There are plenty of reasons that justify telling Rachel and Justin to shove that Kinder Morgan pipeline straight up their backsides.
Writing in The Tyee, Mitchell Anderson reminds us that Alberta with oil revenue is like a backalley wino on welfare day.
Rather than drinking more oil revenue Kool-Aid, Alberta should be more concerned with being saddled with massive cleanup costs when the market evaporates for the lowest-value petroleum on the planet. The Alberta government estimates that outstanding environmental liabilities now top $31 billion, yet security bonds cover only 0.5 per cent of that amount. Industry’s demonstrated desire to wash their hands of thousands of orphaned conventional oil and gas wells portends big problems if the bitumen market goes bust.
After squandering a resource bounty for decades and having virtually nothing to show for it other than public debt of $45 billion, the government of Alberta seems incredulous that British Columbians are less than enthused about dangerous diluted bitumen shipments off our coast. A spill of this toxic unstable emulsion, particularly in the confined airshed of Canada’s busiest port, would be catastrophic.
Premier John Horgan is correct to put the interests of British Columbians first, as Rachel Notley is doing with her own province.
It didn’t have to be this way. Alberta extracted $500 billion more petroleum than Norway, yet this small Nordic country has so far managed to sock away more than $1 trillion USD from the resource. If Alberta’s finances weren’t in such a shambles, perhaps there wouldn’t be a panic to punch a pipeline with such a dubious business case to the B.C. coast.
Alberta’s self-inflicted financial problems should not become B.C.’s environmental problems.
Mitchell points out that Norway, a country that has exported half a trillion dollars less oil than Alberta, is now sitting on the world's largest sovereign wealth fund. Why? Because when the Norwegians began realizing their North Sea oil bounty they listened to then Alberta premier, Peter Lougheed, who warned of the economic calamity that would befall jurisdictions that didn't treat windfall oil revenues cautiously, prudently.
Lougheed, very accurately, warned of boom and bust cycles. Boom cycles in which prices skyrocketed, like a sponge absorbing the easy money in peoples' pockets, wealth that evaporated overnight when the next bust cycle hit. Alberta prided itself on no sales tax, a benefit that really accrued to vendors who jacked up price tags commensurately.
Little Norway listened. It didn't overheat its economy. It didn't squander its resource windfall. It didn't even invest that money in its own economy. It did everything that Alberta's reckless leaders didn't. An unbroken chain of fiscal sots, Rachel very much included.