Friday, November 02, 2007

What Does Responsible and Sustainable Oil Sands Development Mean to You?

So it has been an interesting and intense few weeks since the “Our Fair Share” Royalty Review came out. The ferociousness of the energy industry response and the anger and tactics of many of them was as lively as good theatre. However, the Alberta audience did not suspend their disbelief and we were not transformed by the industry messages or their performances.

The Expert Panel engaged in clarifying, explaining and defending their process, findings and recommendations - and at times even defending themselves. Some were enlightened by the Panel's engagement, others were offended.

Then the Stelmach government came up with its decision and we have seen some interesting post announcement poll results. there have been some supportive endorsements, some serious reservations and others who say Stelmach did not get the job done that should have been done.

This week is considerably quieter. I expect people in the energy industry are trying to digest the economic and political implications of the Stelmach royalty decision and the consequences of their lobbying campaign. Those not directly involved seem to have “moved on” into other issues or back into their so-called “normal” Alberta lives. Others have a lingering sense that there is a new normal emerging in Alberta around citizens relations with government and our governments role with the energy industry coming out of all of this.

After a bit of a breather from the blather, Albertans will once again have to re-engage and this time it should be about the future of the oil sands. We at Cambridge Strategies Inc. and The Policy Channel are already into that re-engagement process. We want to encourage other Albertans back into “active duty” through a survey we are doing on the future of the oil sands.

We are doing this web-based Discrete Choice Modelling survey ourselves and not for any client. It is looking into the values Albertans attribute to the responsible and sustainable development of the oil sands. What we are looking into is what does responsible and sustainable oil sands development mean to Albertans? What is really important about that concept and just how important is the future development of the oil sands to us?

We invite all Albertans to participate. We are actively reaching out to Albertans in all walks of life to have some input. The more the merrier and so far some 2000 Albertans have done the survey. We will use the results to hopefully influence government and industry on future policy directions for our oil sands in ways that align with our values and aspirations.

In the survey you will be given optional scenarios to choose from. Be advised they are not likely to be practical choices but also understand that is not the purpose of the survey. What we want to know is what aspects of the choices offered are the most important and the least important to you. Your choices of the various scenarios sets in the survey will tell us that. Be forewarned, it is not easy. It will take about 8 minutes to do and you will be asked to make some very difficult choices. You will have to make trade-off decisions attributes around oil sands development. Just like real life.

It is an anonymous survey but you can leave an email address at the end of the survey if you want us to send you a report on the results – expected that in mind January.

Thanks for participating.