Last week, I had the opportunity to visit Fort McMurray’s oilsands with my Wildrose Caucus colleagues. It was truly an amazing site to behold. Not only are these multi-billion dollar projects impressive in their size and scope, just as amazing if not more so, are the lengths to which our industry is going to restore the land to its original use after mining operations are complete.
I saw dozens of wood buffalo stampeding across miles of restored grasslands that were once massive craters hundreds of feet deep only a few years earlier. I learned about the billions in investments being made in environmental research and technology, and the incredible advances that are underway to reduce water usage, tailings ponds and emissions.
To see this kind of world class development in Alberta being conducted by Albertans and Canadians left me feeling incredibly proud and hopeful for our children’s future.
I don’t think Canadians, and even Albertans, realize the incredible amount of good that will flow from the riches of our northern oilsands. Think of the billions of dollars in royalties that will be used to build our health and education systems; the hundreds of new environmental and industrial technologies that will be used to reduce pollution and environmental impacts around the world; and the trillions of dollars of earnings to be enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of Canadians and their families.
There are, of course, many detractors. Most of whom are generally ignorant of the facts, or worse, knowingly ignore the facts in pursuit of an extremist ideological agenda intent on shutting down the oilsands entirely regardless of the economic devastation it would cause our province and country.
The methods used by these propagandists are pretty straightforward. They distort the facts. They demonize the people and companies involved.
They prey upon people’s good natures, spreading fear of the unknown and claiming sickness and death will befall our loved ones should we not conform to their twisted way of thinking.
They also ignore the other side of the story. They never show pictures of the reclaimed land. They never disclose the new technological advances continuously being implemented to reduce environmental impacts. And they would never think to point out the consequences that would result if the oilsands were actually shut down.
Whether they care to admit it or not, there is no miracle fuel that is even close to replacing the oil which powers our world’s economy and standard of living. Alternative energy sources are being developed, but the process is slow and none have shown the ability to completely replace the energy-intensity and cost-effectiveness of carbon-based fuels. Assuming the United States refuses to shut down its economy, they will simply purchase their oil from somewhere else should the oilsands be cut off.
And if you look at the potential candidates, it is a who’s who list of dictatorships, human rights abusers, and state sponsors of terror.
In fact, of the top 10 countries with the largest reserves of oil, Canada is the only stable and functioning democracy that respects and protects human rights. Others on that top 10 list include Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Venezuela, Nigeria and Russia.
It is telling that the environmental extremists would have us place our economic future, and that of the United States, in the hands of such volatile and dangerous regimes.
The fact is that Canada is the gold standard of all oil producing jurisdictions on earth. Our governments use every cent of oil royalties towards improving public services such as health and education; we allow our citizens to personally invest and profit from every stage of oil production and export; our energy reserves are not overseen and exploited by corrupt cartels, dictators or human rights abusers; our oil industry spends billions in researching and minimizing the environmental impacts of the oilsands and shares such technologies all over the world; and we haven’t gone to war, nor will we, with anyone over access to our oilfields.
Dirty Oil…hardly…Alberta produces the most ethical oil on earth.