Ah the bountiful Athabasca, source of Alberta's "boom & bust" prosperity. Or is it?
The Pembina Institute has issued a report saying that the cleanup of the Tar Sands could cost billions. In fact they've worked the cost out to upwards of $6,300 for every man, woman and child in the Wild Rose province.
Hey, you really didn't think the oil companies were going to cover that, did you? Did you?
As Andrew Nikiforuk points out in his book Tar Sands, the Tar Sands own water boy, Alberta's permanent Tory government, has deliberately let Big Oil off the hook by requiring minimal security deposits for reclamation that are just a small fraction of the actual cost.
The Pembina Institute report says the government has roughly $820 million set aside in its Environmental Protection Fund for almost 69,000 hectares of disturbed land.
"It seems that number of quite low," said Nathan Lemphers, one of the report's authors.
He estimated the total cost of reclamation may be in the range of $10 billion to $15 billion. The liability works out to $4,300 to $6,300 per taxpayer, the report says.
"The government isn't being honest about the cost of reclamation," Lemphers said. "This leaves Albertans open to risk."
The Alberta government not being honest with its people? Really? Isn't that exactly what every other petro-state does? Of course it is.
Right now that $6,300 a head is the good news. The overall cost if one of those large tailing ponds fails would be astronomical.