Alberta Oil Industry "Stunned" By Venezuelan-Style Regulation of Oil Sands

globe and mail headline image

Scan, Globe and Mail April 6

I just had to scan that headline in Canada's National Newspaper. Is this April Fools? When has the Alberta government done anything that would "stun" the oil industry? But according to the Globe and Mail, the recent announcements of new environmental rules and protected areas...

sent shock waves rippling across an industry that has spent vast sums of money to acquire land in the region. The prospect of having parts of it ripped away prompted one executive to compare Alberta to Venezuela, and to warn that any expropriation of land may frighten away investment crucial to developing one of Alberta's most important economic resources


And what has Premier Eddy Chávez done?

lower athabaska map image

Image credit Government of Alberta, pdf here at Globe and Mail

Not much.

Even the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers is quoted as saying that the government was careful to avoid protecting really productive lands.

The protected areas cover 1.5 per cent of Athabasca's land, although those areas do not appear to be highly prospective, [Athabasca Oil Sands CEO] Mr. Svarte said.

Indeed, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers said it appeared Alberta has attempted to leave the most prospective oil sands areas untouched, moving instead to protect parts of the region less blessed with bitumen.

"Largely, they've kept it on the periphery of the rich lands," said Dave Pryce, CAPP's vice-president of operations. But CAPP is already girding for a fight as it seeks more money for companies that lose land.

More in the Globe and Mail
Greenpeace calls the whole thing a sham. From their press release:

You are likely going to hear a lot about something called the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan (LARP) today and from the Alberta government's tar sands spin machine in the coming days, weeks, months and years. The plan is supposed to set out ecological thresholds to ensure the ecological integrity of the lower Athabasca (or tar sands) region, propose conservation areas to ensure environmental protect and Indigenous treaty rights are respected, and basically be a guiding document for how the region should be developed.

Instead we got a document that looks like is was written for and by industry. The Alberta government seems more interested about big oil's profits than it is about protecting the public interest, upholding Indigenous rights, listening to sound science and upholding the environmental integrity of the region.

The Alberta government's plan has parks that allow oil and gas development, others that will allow forestry, and still others that will rest adjacent to an oil sands or uranium mine. Apparently glow-in-the-dark fishing is the Alberta government's new recreation plan.
The majority of 'protected areas' are not in areas where there are bitumen deposits. They aren't in ecologically sensitive areas, they're not in caribou ranges. The Alberta government is simply not willing to challenge industry.

More at Greenpeace
More on the Tar Sands:
Alberta Tar Sands Oil Flows South As Keystone Pipeline Opened : TreeHugger
Tar Sands: The Most Destructive Project on Earth : TreeHugger
Obama Admits Canadian Tar Sands' Carbon Footprint a Problem (Phew...) : TreeHugger

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