Time and time again, we hear from politicians that we need more pipelines to get Alberta’s oil to new markets. But Paul Mckay, an award-winning journalist who has looked at this issue closely, says this is all a shell game, smoke and mirrors designed to distract us from what’s really going on. McKay says the economics of new oil sands pipelines simply don’t make sense in today’s world, particularly if we have any hope of reducing our carbon emissions.
Paul McKay is an award-winning investigative reporter and author. His reports have been published by the Ottawa Citizen, Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, and Vancouver Sun. He recently wrote a series of articles for The Energy Mix about the faulty economic logic of Canadian oil sands exports called ‘Out of the Loop’.
In my post below, I recommended following a new investigative reporting series being produced by The Tyee. I commend this initiative as it is important, timely and deserves our attention. Now for some thoughts on what The Tyee is hoping to achieve with this project.
First, a few words of caution beginning with David Beer’s premise in launching this series on the polarized debate between “Oil sands full bore? Oil sands full stop? Neither is realistic.”
This is not really accurate. I agree that “Oil sands full stop” seems highly improbable for the reasons that David points out, but “Oil sands full bore” is very much within the realm of possibility and is in fact the desired outcome by many (most?) of those individuals in government and industry who are currently controlling the levers of power.
Will an appeal to “the middle path” as this Tyee project endeavours to do convince the political and economic masters to alter their course? I am highly skeptical.
Correct me if I’m wrong but the premise of this series seems to be that both sides are taking an extreme position but we can indeed have our cake and eat it too if we manage this resource better. That there are both “challenges” and “opportunities” that lie ahead. [An aside: when I worked in government, “challenges” was always used as a euphemism for “problems”.]
Yet such a “solution” is only feasible IF both of the so-called “extreme” positions are in fact wrong. In other words, if the truth therefore lies somewhere in the middle. If it turns out, as many scientists believe, that climate change and the state of the global environment is so serious as to warrant a revolutionary shift in how we produce and consume energy, it seems to me that the “middle way” will only delay, yet not solve the inevitable crisis staring us in the face.
Yes, it’s true due to political/economic realities that we can’t/won’t shut down the tar sands or get off fossil fuels tomorrow but that doesn’t mean taking such a position is wrong from the perspective of what science is now telling us. I fear that any meaningful solution will not come from an appeal for all of us to “just get along” (R.I.P Rodney King) but will only come through conflict and confrontation. I hope I’m wrong about this.