Monday, November 23, 2015

The Alberta Climate Plan: Is Ezra Levant Right?

Not when he says the oil companies don't represent the oil companies, but in his generally negative attitude towards the whole thing?  Well, let's play Devil's advocate for a minute.  What does Alberta get from the rest of the planet for imposing on itself an economy-wide carbon tax?  We know what it wants: pipelines West and South so it can sell its oil to Asia.   Nobody really cares about Energy East.

But Keystone is dead.  So we're down to Northern Gateway and Transmountain.   Does the plan buy them either?  Well, the Trudeau government is going to formally ban oil tankers along B.C.'s North coast, so Northern Gateway is still dead.  What about Transmountain?  Well, a lot of the opposition to this line has nothing to with climate change, and of course there is a faction in the enviro community who would like the oil-sands shut down regardless of any commitments to better behavior the province and the oil companies might make.  They won't be swayed.  So maybe Transmountain goes through, or maybe not, but even if so it will be years down the line and billions spent along the proposed route to grease the skids before its open.  And who knows whether the market will need it by then.

And that's the only prize Alberta gets...potentially...from the whole endeavor.  So: good for the planet, good for Canada, but arguably not so great for Alberta.


jrkrideau said...

Well, the general opinion around the world's capitals seems to be that oil from the tar sands is the dirtiest oil in the world so even the slightest move to make it look better may at least help the oil companies keep current markets. Wasn't the EU planning on banning it? Others, including the US might follow.

bigcitylib said...

EU backed off under pressure from CDN/Alta govs. May come up again, though.

MgS said...

You are assuming that the only material interest that Alberta has is in building new pipelines. Right now, there is no economic justification for any new pipe build simply because tarsands bitumen costs twice as much as anything else to extract and get into the pipe, and sells for less than half of the WTI benchmark price.

The WRP crowd are screaming that the problem is a lack of pipeline capacity, the reality is that for the foreseeable future the oilsands are simply not economically viable.

So, how does Alberta win? Multiple ways.

1. The stranglehold on directing research to the oil patch is over.
2. It sets the stage to transition Alberta away from being held hostage by the oil industry as a whole
3. It actually creates new opportunities in the Alberta economy that have been choked off for the last two decades by the political connections between the oil industry and the PCAA.

Does Alberta win in the short term? No. But we're already in a recession - for the umpteenth time in my memory - what better time to change direction.

Unhappy cow said...

It's time for Western Canada to separate from the ungrateful rest of Canada. BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and the Yukon, time to go. The scumbag politicians of Ontario and Quebec have leached off of us for decades yet they still are dumping on the hands that feeds them. Time for them to be on there own. Pierre Trudeau tried to kill Alberta, and now his loser son will finish the job. Form your own country Western Canada before it is too late, and let those greasy pigs down east wallow in their own mess.