Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A Made In Alberta Canada First Energy Policy

Gordon Laxer, brother of Progressive Blogger James Laxer, had the guest editorial/opinion article in the Edmonton Journal yesterday, well worth the read.

The energy resources in Alberta are also Canadian resources, as Harper finally recognized the other day.

In fact in many cases they are not Alberta owned, but owned by First Nations peoples.

The Aboriginal Role in the Development of Alberta’s Oil & Gas

It is time for Alberta to plan for a national energy policy, not just a drill, process, ship to the U.S. policy.

Canada-first energy strategy needed

This presentation was made last week to the provincial Oil Sands Consultation Committee by Gordon Laxer, professor of political economy and director of the Parkland Institute at the University of Alberta

To conserve energy, Canada must first regain control over energy supply and use. Our NAFTA partners already have this. Only Canada must export a majority of its energy in perpetuity. Canada, with Alberta's backing, should demand a Mexican exemption.

Mexico is in NAFTA and got an exemption from proportionality. Why can't we get the same? If the U.S refuses to budge on this, we are allowed to unilaterally leave NAFTA by giving six months notice.

NAFTA isn't of much use. The U.S. ignores rulings favourable to Canada, and insists on those, like proportionality, which aren't. If one party ignores an agreement, other parties aren't bound by them either.

What might an energy security strategy for Canada look like?

In contrast to the 1980 national energy program that Ottawa imposed, a security strategy must be a provincial-federal partnership. What could it include?

First, the Dinning principle: R. J. Dinning headed a 1949 Alberta commission that recommended the province retain 50 years supply of natural gas before exporting to other provinces. The Dinning principle that only after Canadians are taken care of should energy surplus to long-term reserves, be exported, should be extended to oil. But, with dwindling, conventional oil and gas supplies, the period of proven supplies before exports, should be 10 to 15 years.

Second, halt projects in the tarsands which have not yet been approved. Replace them with aggressive conservation initiatives. More can be gained by reducing energy use than through more production. Using less will prolong energy supplies and reduce greenhouse gases. Banking oil for the future will increase its value when it's removed in 15 years.

Third, raise royalty and lease rates, and taxes to Norway's levels to capture the full value of nature's capital, for the owners -- the citizens of Alberta and First Nations. Follow public opinion and include Crown energy corporations, like Norway's Statoil, to capture more of the economic rents.

Fourth, reverse the Sarnia-Montreal pipeline and bring western oil to Quebec again.

Fifth, change Alberta's leasing policies so that no further oil is exported until Canadian needs are met.

But, we are not doing these things.

"No plan" Ralph inadvertently captured Canada's current energy policy when he said 25 years ago: "Let the Eastern Bastards Freeze in the Dark."

Today, thanks to governments led by Klein, Harper and his Liberal predecessors, Canada has an America-first energy policy. When, not if, the first big energy crunch hits, Canadians will demand that their governments meet their needs first.

Do you think anyone is listening? Nah.


Tar Sands

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