Monday, January 04, 2010

Greener Oil Sands, Greener Planet and Alberta's Role.

The op-ed in today’s Globe and Mail “Greener Oil Sands, Greener Planet” by my business partner Satya Das is a perfect example of how to integrate the guiding principles I set for myself in 2010. Those were, citizenship, ownership and stewardship, especially in an Alberta context.

We clearly need to get serious about a low-carbon future and it is Alberta with the best opportunity and duty to lead the way in Canada and the world for that matter. We have a $15 trillion concentration of hydrocarbon based wealth in the oil sands. That wealth is a key to an effective transition to alternative energy and cleaner greener hydrocarbons too.

Alberta is also the best place for ethical investors to place their energy, and innovation investments, especially when compared to the uncertainty and corruption of other large energy providers in regimes like Saudi Arabia, Iran or Iraq.

Albertans have to exercise their citizenship right and responsibilities and as owners of the oil sands to ensure they are developed sustainably and responsibly. We also have to ensure we get the best value from the resource for the benefit of current and future generations of Albertans and yes – Canadians too.

Stewardship is about the environment and preserving biodiversity. But it is also part of policy and programs to encourage Albertans to personally adapt and adopt new and greener practices in our personal and community lives. That includes investment in capturing the wealth of the oil sands. One way is to have a Natural Resources Severance Tax that would fund the transition and new technologies necessary for a carbon neutral future for oil sands development.

Here is the link to Satya’s Globe and Mail op-ed piece. Here is a link to his book Green Oil too.

Finally if you are also an Albertan interested and concerned about you citizenship, your resource ownership and stewardship you may want ot join in the movement known as Reboot Alberta.  That where you will find like-minded people who are gathering together and starting to get actively engaged in these and other aspects of our democracy in Alberta.


  1. Anonymous1:53 pm

    This is exactly the level of thinking required to ensure Alberta remains properous and contributes to the wealth, health and happiness of millions of people all over the world.

  2. Helene Walsh6:52 pm

    Responsible, sustainable development (good environmental stewardship) means all species are maintained. Woodland caribou are in serious decline all over Alberta including in the oil sands area. Considered the canary in the coal mine, caribou and their population stability is an excellant indicator of a good balance between economic and environmental values. The decline of caribou in Alberta clearly indicates we are not demonstrating good environmental stewardship.

  3. Good to hear from you Helene - and you are right. Can we conserve enough land for them to have a habitat to thrive in?

  4. Helene Walsh10:43 am

    Yes Ken, it is possible and it is also necessary to maintain our caribou habitat. It is not just about the caribou. If our caribou are in decline it is because our boreal forest habitat is not healthy, and we can be certain other species, less well studied, are also in decline.

    Our international reputation is at stake. Alberta has made many provincial, national and international commitments to the maintenance of our province's biodiversity. Albertan's are proud of their wilderness and wildlife. Numerous polls by government and industry have indicated the public highly values the maintenance of wildlife habitat. Indeed Premeier Stelmach implies in his speaches nationally and internationally that we are maintaining our environmental heritage.

    It seems Premier Stelmach does not know about the decline of the woodland caribou in Alberta. Perhaps he does not know that the government department responsible for the maintenance of the caribou has stated in its 2009 caribou action plan for recovery of the Foothill's caribou herds that the mandate of Sustainable Resource Development (SRD) is to: enable, not restrict access to resources. And so the habitat of one of the caribou herds most vulnerable to local extinction (the Little Smoky herd northwest of Hinton) continues to be degraded by industrial use. Wolves continue to be killed to maintain caribou numbers. The Alberta government department (SRD) that is supposed to maintain our province's biodiversity plainly states it will not do so if that involves restricting industrial use, which is the cause of most species' decline. It seems Sustainable Resource Development does not understand the meaning of the word sustainable-- economic needs are met only within the capacity of the environment to remain healthy. The decline of caribou in Alberta is a simple and clear indication that we are not devloping our resources sustainably. To call this department Sustainable Resource Development is an example of false advertising by the Alberta government on behalf of the people of Alberta. Let's just be honest and rename the department Resource Development and acknowledge the reality of our unsustainable resource development.