Let's just call it 'reclamation.' The return of Alberta's oil and bitumen fields to a pristine, natural state. The bad news? It could take up to 2,800 years. The good news? Mankind could be long gone by then but, give nature three or four millennia and it will do the job. From the National Observer -
It may take more than 2,800 years to clean up some of the decommissioned oil and gas wells currently dotting Alberta’s landscape, a senior regulatory official warned in a recent presentation made privately to the industry.
That means the burden of returning the land to a natural state — called reclamation — could fall on the next 93 generations. The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) official outlined the situation in a September 2018 presentation to oil and gas professionals as he made the case for stronger regulations.
...It’s unlikely that well-owning companies will be around to clean up the mess in a few hundred years, said Blake Shaffer, a post-doctoral fellow at Stanford University who has studied well liabilities in Alberta.
“This is a big issue, and we need some policy changes,” said Shaffer, who is also a C.D. Howe Institute fellow and economist at the University of Calgary. “These shouldn’t be things that are multi-generational.”
National Observer obtained the presentation through a freedom-of-information request as part of a joint investigation with Star Calgary.There's a whole lot of 'multi-generational' going on these days. That's how we kick our responsibilities down the road, offload them onto future generations that have not yet even come into being. If they're not already
You see, you need plenty of sleight of hand parlour tricks when you want to pretend that there's value in something that really has no value. And that includes fudging the books. Making liabilities vanish by disappearing into the distant future is top drawer stuff. Making others bear the immediate risks of your reckless ventures is also a good one. Externalize, externalize, externalize everything you possibly can.
One thing you can count on. If you can keep the current generation off the hook for this massive liability, each succeeding generation will be even more unwilling to shoulder the cost. Why should they? They didn't make the mess. It wasn't their Mardi Gras so why should they get the hangover?