Monday, November 09, 2009

Green Oil Author Satya Das Drops the Gauntlet

Here is a link to an interview Satya Das did with the Toronto Star that ran last Saturday in their business section. It is a strong statement that says Albertans need to start acting like owners of their resources and demanding better public policies from their government and more accountability and revenues from the energy industry.

That means the citizens of the province need to take back some political control and make demands of the political class to better represent the public interest and not just the interests of the resource industry - the tenants! The Premier promised to make some changes coming out of the 77% party support at the PC AGM last week end. Here is another area that needs some serious policy changes by the Premier - especially in royalty revenues and reclamation responsibilities.

The royalty rates for energy resources are ridiculously low compared to all other energy jurisdictions. Alberta is using non-renewable resource revenues as substitute for a responsible rate of taxation that would fund a pay-as-you go approach to the public interest. What we do now is mortgage the future of our children with social and environmental problems and precious little long term value added benefits from the oilsands in particular.

The Lougheed legacy of saving a significant portion of the resource revenues in the Heritage Trust Fund has been dishonoured for too long. It is time to take the money from royalties off the policy and political table. We should make a stretch goal to save 80% of those revenues in the Heritage Fund as our legacy to future generations. Then we need to tax ourselves at the level needed to pay for the necessary operational needs of the province that we decide are in the public interest. This is instead of the current model of constantly subsidizing the energy industry and beggaring everybody else.

The long term benefits of the Alberta energy resources are being squandered by poor planning, lax royalty collection and revenue policies that favour short term industrial growth and ignoring longer term potential benefits and turning a blind eye to the ecological and social costs of unrestrained growth.

Time to wake up Alberta. Time to dust off your citizenship and start paying attention to what is going on. Time to take on the responsibility of citizenship again. Time to get informed and involved in the politics of this province in a positive way. Indifference is a luxury Albertans can't afford any more. The world is run by those who show up.

Learn more about Satya's ideas for the future of Alberta in his book Green Oil