There's these two guys, see? Regan Boychuk and Brent O'Neill. Two Albertans. They want to revive Alberta's collapsed labour market while, at the same time, cleaning up the mess "up north." And they figure a hundred billion dollars should just about cover it.
First, however, they'll have to get the Alberta government to face the problem it's spent decades ignoring - the environmental catastrophe sometimes called the Tar Sands.
Their proposal, "is built on several premises. The first is that the time for fossil fuel extraction has ended in Alberta. The low fruit has been picked and nobody saved anything for the future.
"The second is that climate change has become a clear and present danger. “We need to start making a real reduction in man-made emissions so our future generations have the same opportunities we once did” says the RAFT proposal.
"The best way to respond to this emergency — as well as increasing oil price volatility — is to wind down the industry and re-employ people in a massive environmental clean-up, RAFT proposes. While industry has a legal obligation to clean up its inactive wells and abandoned pipelines, it probably won’t spend the money unless government tackles some surprising legal obstacles.
"Cleaning up has many economic benefits. It puts oil service companies back to work and would employ thousands throughout the province. The clean-up would last decades and fixing leaking wells would reduce methane pollution into the atmosphere."
"Current liabilities for the conventional sector, the plan notes, include 444,000 oil and gas wells (only 200,000 are actually pumping liquids), 430,000 kilometres of pipelines (the distance to the moon is 384,000 kilometres), 30,000 oil and gas facilities, 900 square kilometres of oil sands development, 220 square kilometres of tailing ponds and “a 11.2 million ton sulfur pile that dwarfs the great pyramids of Egypt.” (The sulphur is another waste stream from bitumen upgrading.)
"No one has argued about the environmental necessity of a clean-up.
But there's a snag.
"Incredibly, the regulator holds only $240 million in its clean-up fund. That potentially leaves taxpayers on the hook for a $29-billion clean-up bill if laws and policies don’t radically change in the province and country.
"It’s widely agreed the industry-funded regulator, directed by a former oil patch lobbyist, has failed to grasp the gravity of the situation or the inadequacy of its current policies.
"The oil sands add to these growing environmental liabilities.
"Alberta’s auditor general has already warned that the province’s clean-up fund of $1.6 billion is grossly inadequate to cover an estimated $21-billion clean-up liability for just eight oil sands mining sites and 19 coal mines. Treating the toxic water in the tailing ponds might cost another $24 billion.
"Industry and the Alberta government have known about these liabilities for years. And the principle that industry is responsible for cleaning up its polluted sites is widely accepted.
And what would theft be without an Artful Dodger?
"That would give clean-up costs priority over creditors who extended risky loans to the company.
"More importantly, it would force bankers and other creditors to factor in environmental risks when lending to the highly indebted oil patch."
The Scam - Three Card Monte
"CNRL Resources paid $6 million on sales of $1.9 billion worth of bitumen.
"Suncor paid $48 million in royalties on $4.7 billion worth of gross bitumen sales. And on it goes.
"Many of the oil sands companies making money tend to own refineries and are what industry calls “integrated producers.” They include big oil sands players such as Suncor, Imperial, Husky and Cenovus.
"Even when oil prices are low these integrated players make huge profits by buying low-priced bitumen, upgrading and refining it and then selling high-priced refinery products in the North American market. Oil prices might be low but gasoline prices remain surprisingly high."
In other words, the screwing of the province and people of Alberta is nearly complete and, as usual for someone screwed over, they're left with a parting gift - environmental devastation and an enormous clean up bill. That's what they get from decades of utter neglect by Conservative governments (and now Notley's to boot).
Ralph Klein instilled the Mardi Gras mentality in Alberta's legislature and no one's been able to shake it since. Oh there was wealth, vast wealth supposedly but, oddly enough, there's nothing to show for it today except for that cesspool in the backyard. Shoulda listened to Peter Lougheed ...but, no.