Reboot Alberta

Monday, February 15, 2010

How Dare Jean Charest Suck and Blow on Alberta's Oilsands

Prime Minister of Quebec Jean Charest is high quality politician and an staunch Federalist. He is someone I admire and have met a few times.  He is a leader that I value very much in his Quebec role in Canadian politics. What I can't fathom is his duplicitous political posturing over the oilsands.

He has a responsibility in Quebec and every right to "go it alone" on emissions control standards for Quebec. Environment is a shared Fed-Prov constitutional responsibility. Minister Prentice has to learn to adapt and realize he can't dictate provincial policy from Ottawa. 

But Mr. Charest must learn to adapt and not dictate to others as well.  He has no right to dictate to Alberta as to what we should be doing in the relationship of our energy based economy.  His uninformed interference on how we meet our ecological responsibilities or what impacts we will allow on our societal well-being from rapid and poorly planned growth in the past is our business, not his.  Albertans are well aware of the blessinsg and the burdens of the oilsands.  We Albertans are very engaged in dealing with the consequences as well as the opportunitity and stewardship responsibility of our oil sands.

There is lots of history that shows Quebec is hardly an environmental poster boy. It has a history of allowing destructive forestry practices to go on for far too long.  It has shown a breathtaking lack of concern for sewage treatment and condoned dumping raw sewage into the St Lawrence for decades. But I digress and risk engaging in the same rhetoric I bemoan from Mr. Charest.

What burns me about Mr. Charest is the anti-Alberta rhetoric coupled with the recent advertising campaign and political push by the Quebec government to subsidize local business to come on a trade mission to exploit the business opportunities of our oil sands. This Quebec government program encourages Quebec business to take come to Alberta in late March and learn how to advantage of the opportunities that the oil sands offers.  Isn't that running the risk that Quebec will be seen as adding to the "problem" and not become part of the solution as they too move in to exploit the so-called dirty oil in Alberta?

As a Canadian and as an Albertan, I welcome Quebec businesses to our province to find oil sands business opportunity. I enthusiastically encourage Quebec businesses to come to Alberta and seek out oil sands based opportunities.  I applaud that these are opportunities enabled by Alberta that they can take home and use to benefit my fellow Canadians living in Quebec.

I also ask those same Quebec business people to push their own provincial politicians to eliminate the isolationist and protectionist policies  in Quebec.  That province adheres to that protectionist stance to the point that it often makes interprovincial trade with Quebec harder than international trade with other nations. I live in a province that encourages and creates interprovincial trade opporunities. The best recent example is the TILMA trade agreement with B.C. Look it up and learn from this example of regional co-operation.  With these trade linkages between Alberta and B.C. we have created an market with the population of Quebec and a GDP about 50% larger than Quebec. 

What burns me is the concurrent finger pointing, myopic political rhetoric and self-serving sanctimony inherent in the posturing of the Quebec Prime Minister over the Alberta oilsands.  These are not core character elements in the Jean Charest personality that I know. Still he has consistently spouted inaccurate public statements decrying an alleged disproportionate amount global damage he deems to be caused by Alberta's oilsands. And he does this at the same time he is subsidizing Quebec business to jump on the economic gravytrain of the oilsands.  That is hard to reconcile logically and morally - never mind politically. It is not the sutff of nation building that I have come to depend on over the years from Mr. Charest.

Oilsands are a dirty business but it is not nearly as bad as its opponents pretend it to be.  Its environmenal future is destined to be significantly better as we move forward from open pit to about 80% SAGD extraction.  With new cleaner technologies, reduced GHG emissions and lower water use we are making significant progress as the demand for oil sands sourced energy grows.  SAGD, like conventional oil and gas extraction, will still destroy and fragment significant amounts of wildlife habitat.  That habitat destruction can be alleviated and mitigaged with an accelerated reclamation approach coupled with a conservation and biodiversity offsets policy to ensure equivalent habitat protection in other parts of the province. (Full disclosure - I am working on establishing a policy on conservation and biodiversity offsets in Alberta).

On a well-to-wheels, full-cost accounting of equivalent conventional oil sources, including lives lost, defense spending and the funding of global instability caused by the US sourcing of Middle East oil, the Alberta oilsands come out as an economic, ecolgical, social and political bargain...all things considered.  That full-cost accounting approach does not reduce the ecological stewardship responsibility of Albertans one iota.  It does show why the oil sands are a preferred, reliable, safe and stable energy source and put the oil sands issues in a more comprehensive and proper perspective.

As an Albertan I welcome the Quebec businesses to Alberta and encourage them to learn how they can gain economically from the oilsands development. I also hope that they spend some time learning what Alberta industry and government is doing to reduce the ecological impacts and mitigate the other damages inherent in this development. 

I encourage them to ensure whatever oil sands business opportunites they undertake that they do so with a serious commitment to sustainable ecological and responsible economic principles.  I hope the Quebec business people will come and bring some new and practical ideas to help Albertans serve the ecological stewardship efforts around reducing the impact of oilsands deveopment. That is a responsibility they might also bear. It presents another way for them to benefit as they come to cash in on the oilsands business opportunities.

We Albertans are far from perfect stewards of our oil sands development.   We are aware of our stewardship duty and we are on the right track towards meeting it.  We have to pick up our game and the pace of our environmental play for sure.  That said, we are far from the irresponsible philistines that many would like label us when it comes to our oilsands development.

I hope the Quebec business people spend some time while in Alberta to learn more about the reality and not just the rhetoric around oilsands development. I hope they take the business opportunities and their new found and informed reality of the oilsands back to Quebec.  I hope they have the opportunity to debrief their politicians.  I hope they can help to temper and teach Mr. Charest a thing or two about the reality of the oilsands.  Constructive criticism is always welcomed by Albertans. Destructive self-serving rhetoric is not.

Might I also suggest a business opportunity of my own around oil sands development?  To those from Quebec and elsewhere, who are planning to find some new business in Alberta. I encourage them, to read the book "Green Oil" before they come.  It was written by my business partner Satya Das. It serves well as an owners manual for Albertans on how to better develop the oilsands but also as an instruction manual for others to help them undersantd what this oil sands resource is all about.

BTW, you can go online at Green Oil and download it.  That way you can save some trees and reduce your own carbon footprint in the process.   There is an interesting online conversation happening on the Green Oil book site too.  I encourage you to join in and share your thoughts and ideas on the oil sands too.


  1. "...We are aware of our stewardship duty and we are on the right track towards meeting it..."

    No we are not. Didn't you notice that Stelmach cut funding for environmental monitoring in the budget while increasing money for propaganda?
    Hat tip

    The Government of Alberta and the fools who elected it deserve all the criticism we are getting.

    And if you want to attack Quebec, talk about their asbestos industry.

    But don't make excuses for Alberta's absolute failure to deal intelligently with the oil sands.

  2. Your facts are correct Holly. It is misguided for our government to be cutting environment money and pumping spin-prone PR budgets at the same time. But if we press them on this they can and will change.

    I do not say we are close to being where we need to be on the environomental stewardship agenda around oil sands but we are not ignoring it like we used to. I know that is faint praise to be sure but we are far from absolute failure anymore.

    I think citizens can and must press our government and industry tenants for responsible and sustainable change. We have to press harder, louder and more focused than we ever have. The Stelmach government responded to overt pressure in the last Budget. Time to be more overt about our demands on oilsands development.

    We have started but as I said in the post, we have to pick up our game and the pace of our play. That will not happen if government and industry get to set self-serving rules behind closed doors like the pending Competative Review. They seem interested only in meeting pure political purposes and short-term profit goals with such opaque policy processes. Citizens need to get serious about what we expect from our resource proxies who we call government and our tenants who we called industry.

    We also need to raise royalties to reasonable levels to ensure we are not giving our oil and gas resources away. We are cheating future generations from the benefit of these non-renewable resources in exchange for short term and shallow goals only. We have the second lowest total hydrocarbon energy resource revenues (taxes and royalties) to serve the public good on the planet.

  3. Anonymous2:32 pm

    This blog has become so far right wing. Time to stop the oilsands now.

  4. Anonymous9:43 pm

    HAHAHA! Ken, you are being accused of being a WAP supporter!

    Mind you, Premier Smith could much more eloquently defend Alberta's position in confederation than stumblemouth Stelmach against eastern hypocrites, usurpers and tax collectors.

  5. Anonymous8:59 pm

    Reboot is pretty much run by Wildrose Alliance people anyways.

  6. Nice post Ken. I agree that Quebec, and to a lesser extent Ontario should stop scoring cheap political points on Alberta. It is not healthy for Confederation to have any province lording itself over others.

  7. Anonymous1:41 pm

    Anyone who reads international media now knows that Global Warming "science" is absolutely wilting now that proper technical scrutiny is being done.

    The atmosphere is already thermally saturated with CO2 and all warming that can ever be attributed to CO2 has already occured. This is because CO2 absorbs heat only at certain wavelengths dictated by the C to O bonds and that virtualy 100% of these wavelengths being sent to Earth from the sun are already being absorbed. Additional CO2 will have no effect.

    This simple law of physical chemistry completely refutes the AGW theory and needs to be communicated to a public eager for the truth.

    New oilsands extraction technology like SAGD and THAI and others exert minimal damage on the environment and are rapidly taking over from traditional mining technologies. Yes, there is still an environmental footprint. But that footprint is much, much smaller than that of a farming operation, a forestry operation or a city suburb.

    Both these facts need to be communicated by governments yet they seem unable to communicate them. Hopefully the next government will be able to.

  8. Anonymous, the atmosphere is not saturated with CO2. Even if the lower atmosphere was saturated (which it is not), there are a bunch of layers of atmosphere above it which are also not saturated. Increased CO2 emissions will cause increased global warming. This is what the physicists say.

  9. Graham Fletcher12:39 am

    Holly: the "science" behind global warming is junk. Phil Jones in the UK, and Andrew Weaver in Canada - both the kings of "global warming" in their own respective countries of the UK and Canada, the science cheerleaders of global warming - have now admitted that global warming is a fraud. What we are seeing in the warming and cooling cycles of the last decade, century, and millenium are normal oscillations that have nothing to do with man's insignificant impact. The enormity of this fraud, and the years of public manipulation by "science agendas' (agendas sounding like science but aren't - Al Gore's book, the IPCC reports, the CRU reports) are only just beginning to be realized and understood for what they are. There are tens of millions of global warming believers who have been duped by this fraud, and they have a long way to go before they realize their intellectual and physical investment in this corruption was a complete and appalling waste.

    CO2 may or may not increase warming - the debate is not over - but certainly mankind does not produce enough CO2 for us to worry about. It is why as we produce more CO2 in the past two decades than ever, the world has been COOLING.

  10. "...Phil Jones in the UK, and Andrew Weaver in Canada - both the kings of "global warming" in their own respective countries of the UK and Canada, the science cheerleaders of global warming - have now admitted that global warming is a fraud..."

    That is a lie; so you are either repeating lies deliberately or you are deluded.

  11. Graham Fletcher3:42 pm

    Phil Jones and his team at East Anglia - the CRU - has collected over $22 million in research grants over the last decade, part of which was used to file charts and reports to the UN's IPCC warning of the certainty of catastrophic man made global warming. The IPCC and Phil Jones are at the heart of the global warming "debate is over" debate.

    Jones admitted in the BBC interview a week ago that there has been no statistically significant evidence of warming since 1995, and it is very possible that the Medieval Warm Period was at least as warm as the present period.

    So he provides his research results to the UN which is almost hysterical in its predictions of AGW disaster, and now calmly in front of the BBC says "not so".

    So was he lying to the UN or was he lying to the BBC?

    If he was lying to the UN, and collecting money for further UK resarch grants to further define the global warming doomsday, and now says that there is no global warming - how is this not fraud?

    Holly - understand this. The guys at the heart of the whole CO2, AGW industry, where billions are pledged, spent, demanded by third world countries, - Jones, Mann, Weaver - all under investigation, cannot produce data, are hiding data, have had whatever data they produced proven false and incompetently arrived at (the Mann Hockey Stick, the Al Gore movie) or are distancing themselves from the antics at Copenhagen and the IPCC.

    Sorry kid - I am not the one making this stuff up. And the deluded - they are the folks that, now that the BBC et al are reporting in greater quantity the collapse of the whole AGW house of cards, are hanging on, as you are, to the hope that this betrayal is not happening to them or you. Want the URLs? Just google "Phil Jones and climategate", and choose from the million or so hits.....Start with the BBC.

    And Waever - different story, same result.

  12. Sorry, Graham, what you wrote about Jones is false; he was saying that you can't be 95% sure that the warming trend over 15 years is statistically significant, because there is too much statistical noise over that short a period. The quotation from Jones is here:

    "...BBC: Do you agree that from 1995 to the present, there has been no statstically-significant global warming"

    Prof Jones: Yes, but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995-2009. This trend (0.12 per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level. The positive trend is quite close to the significance level. Achieving statistical significance in scientific terms is much more likely for longer periods and much less likely for shorter periods..."
    quoted from this website, which includes a link to the BBC website:

    Also, the following post deals with the Jones interview, including what he really said about the MWP:

    Graham, you have got to stop paying attention to rightwing denier websites. They lie, and they lie, and they lie, and they will make a paranoid delusional fool of you.

    I would like to see a link showing what Weaver is supposed to have said because I don't believe you have that right either. Come up with some actual evidence, could you now?

  13. Graham Fletcher1:55 pm

    Holly: How could you miss it:
    BBC Question: "Do you agree that according to the global temperature record used by the IPCC, the rates of global warming from 1860 - 1880, 1910 - 1940, and 1975 - 1998 were identical?"

    Jones answer: "... as for the two periods 1910-40 and 1975-98 the warming rates are not significantly differet"

    Huh?? The IPCC AND Jones both said that the latter period was unique in history!!! Until they got caugnt. Where is Jones proof, his own data collected from around the world? He, by HIS OWN ADMISSION, "lost it". But let's spend billions, on his suppositions, now completely 100% reversed.

    You won't find any of this discussion admittedl in any leftist papers - AGW is a basic tenet of left wing beliefs - but Weaver said specifically:
    "There has been a dangerous crossing of that line" - google this phrase to find several references to the context, in that the UN IPCC has crossed the line from science to advocacy.

    Could your suggestion that I am too stupid to read through the lies of the right wing be equally applicable to people on the left being too hardened in their beliefs to look at the possibility, post "climategate" and numerous other non-global warming peer reviewed research filings, to perhaps realize that the warmists may be exaggerating the warming position?

    You may not like him, or find him approachable, but try reading Lord Monckton once, and see if you can fine any truth to what he says.

    Then tell me again I'm stupid.

  14. Weaver was inaccurately reported on in this article of Jan 26 (may have been Jan 27 in some Canwest papers):

    He wrote to correct the errors: his letter was in the Edmonton Journal on Jan 31, 2010:

    "...A recent article published on Jan. 27 in many Canwest papers suggested I believe that the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was tainted by political advocacy, that its chairman should resign, and that its approach to science should be overhauled. These statements do not accurately reflect my views..."


    "...None of this changes the conclusions of the IPCC concerning the human contribution to past, present and future global warming. These conclusions are supported by the national science academies of the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Canada, China, India, Japan and a host of other nations. The real question is whether or not we want to deal with this problem. And for this, the IPCC cannot provide the answer..."

    Also listen to this interview:

    And read this blogpost:

    Your gibberish about Jones is not worth checking into. Provide good evidence instead of vague nonsense; provide actual links and actual quotes.

    Monckton? Possibly he told the truth about boozing it up with Maggie Thatcher, but he tells no truth about climate change. If you believe him you have very poor judgment.

  15. Graham Fletcher5:06 pm

    Holly: it is a waste of time to argue with the religion of the left. I did point to very specific quotes from Jones and Weaver. Jones himself cannot provide the data that he filed with the IPCC that forms most of the so-ocalled hard peer reviewed research that led the IPCC to the outrageous chicken little announcements the IPCC has made. If Jones says there has been no significant warming in the last 15 years, after he has been saying that there has been remarkable warming in the past 15 years, then take your pick of which statement you want to believe. I believe he said there was no statistically significant warming in the last 15 years after he was caught in his emails. He cannot give you his data because he admits to losing it in the mess in his office, but he is sure he is right.

    This is not some right wing conspiracy to get him to provide his data. It is the scientific process to provide your hypothesis and the data that allowed you to make that hypothesis so that others can repeat the science to confirm. This Jones cannot do.

    When Mann tried that on his hockey stick graphs, a couple of Canadian math guys torpedoed his results. Proved he was wrong, and the myth of the hockey stick warming is still in strong circulation around the AGW folks. They believe what they want to believe.

    If you want to take your hard-earned dough and throw it at AGW initiatives, have at it.

    Just don't expect me to do the same thing, based on absolutely assailable AGW science. How many retractions from the IPCC et al to do with Himalayan Glaciers, Amazon rainforests and rising sea waters do you want to hear to be just a little sceptical on how hard the claimed peer-reviewed science actually is?

    Are you not just a little nervous? Do you really want to shut down most of North American industry (the Chinese and the Russians are laughing at us, and Hugo Chavez and Robert Mugabe get standing ovations at Copenhoggen - sp intentional) just because Jones 'thinks' he's right?

    I read Weaver's letter. You should reread it. it is so milquetost in its denial of what he was reported as saying, that one wonders about the intent of the letter. I got the impression, esp based on his example of erroneous glacier reporting, that he was only softening what he said. This is no strong denial. He seems to be saying what the IPCC ought to be saying, instead of what the IPCC has actually been saying. "These statements do not accurately reflect my views" is a matter of degree. He did not say for instance "the article is without merit" or "I condemn the article in the strongest of terms" etc.
    He mildly wanted to alter a perception probably because he wanted to reverse a moment of candor after he saw what it looked like in print. His letter does not reverse his position. It only attempts to modify it.

    I note btw that all your references come from heavily left of centre publications. As I said - AGW is a religion, based on dodgy science. Just because I believe that Warmists are of the same ilk and of the same accuracy as the "ice age is coming" folks of the '60's doesn't mean that I deny your right to hold your own beliefs on the issue.

    Just, as I said, don't ask me as a taxpayer and businessman to fund your craziness.....


Anonymous comments are discouraged. If you have something to say, the rest of us have to know who you are