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Toothlessness of Alberta's Final Oil Sands Plan Worries Conservationists in U.S. & Canada

U.S. watchdogs fear the plan could tilt the State Department to approve the controversial Keystone XL pipeline

By Elizabeth McGowan, SolveClimate News

Jul 21, 2011
Ed Stelmach, the Premier of Alberta

WASHINGTON—Any day now, the Alberta government is expected to release its final version of a long-awaited, overarching proposal designed to protect natural resources in the northeastern corner of the province laden with intensive oil sands mining.

But if it's anything like the draft first made public April 5, conservationists are prepared to be unimpressed. Yet again.

Their top-of-the list concern is that government officials will continue to favor industry's needs instead of laying out science-based specifics to preserve air, land, water and at-risk species such as the woodland caribou. They also suspect that authorities will continue to refuse to submit what's known as the to outside independent experts for review.

"It's widely acknowledged that Alberta needs a plan," Jennifer Grant of Canada's told SolveClimate News in an interview. "That plan is supposed to have three pillars — social, economic and environmental. But it's clear economics have overridden some of the environmental goals."

Grant directs the oil sands program out of the nonprofit organization's Calgary office.

U.S. environmental watchdogs are on the same page as Pembina. Their topmost fear is that the U.S. State Department will cite the plan as a sign that Alberta is executing an about-face by holding the feet of the oil sands industry to the fire. They are afraid that conclusion will tilt Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's team toward greenlighting a $7 billion proposed controversial oil sands pipeline.

TransCanada's 1,702-mile Keystone XL is slated to pump diluted bitumen from Alberta's tar sands mines across six states to Gulf Coast oil refineries via a 36-inch diameter underground pipeline.

Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, an oil sands expert with the , told SolveClimate News the report indicates how far behind Alberta is on environmental and human health issues.

"Alberta is very much thinking about public relations and planning as opposed to actual action that would reduce the environmental impacts of oil sands," she said. "What we need in the tars sands is strong regulation that forces oil companies to clean up their act. This plan, it's not requiring real change."

Enormous Oil Reserves

Back in late 2008, a newly issued land-use framework laid out a supposedly different approach to managing Alberta's land and natural resources to achieve long-term economic, environmental and social goals. A follow-up stewardship act presented in 2009 divided the province into seven regions or watersheds.

The Lower Athabasca region, one of the first plans put on the table, covers about 36,000 square miles abutting neighboring Saskatchewan. Government officials gave the public two months to respond to the plan after it was circulated in early April.

As Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach has announced he will be retiring this autumn or winter but hasn't announced a firm date yet, word on the street is that he doesn't want a long delay in delivering the final regional plan for Lower Athabasca.

About 1.3 million barrels of crude are produced daily in the oil sands, a number that is expected to more than double within the decade, according to information in the 70-page draft plan. What is referred to as the world's second largest petroleum reserve — Saudi Arabia is ranked first — is estimated to contain at least 1.71 trillion barrels of diluted bitumen.

"Our oil sands resource represents a unique economic opportunity for Alberta — an opportunity to be a world energy leader through optimizing opportunities for development, while ensuring our environmental responsibilities are met," the report states.

"Alberta is well-positioned to deliver on this through continuous improvement in how we explore for, develop and extract our oil sands resources, through a strong regulatory system and an emphasis on new technology and innovation. Alberta is committed to optimizing the economic potential of the resource, but will do so in ways that are environmentally sustainable and socially acceptable."

Beyond the Environment the tar sands are a financial disaster!

The present royalty rates (guaranteed for another 6 years) are 5% Can$ BC and Sask are sitting at 21% US.

The Conservatives have pillaged the Heritage Savings and Trust fund; Frozen it at 4% profit taking everything above, good times and bad.

There has been over 70 billion dollars ripped from the fund and put into general revenues.  This is 8 or 9 years total Alberta Budget had been paid for by the fund!  It has allowed the Conservatives to artificially reduce the oil royalty while leaving Alberta citizens with zilch. 

After 6 years, royalty will drop to zero which has always been their intention!

The consortium get free power lines (Albertans pay for all power lines on their bills).  New construction is cost plus 15% guaranteeing it to be hugely expensive, again paid for by the taxpayers.

The roads to and from these sites are paid for 100% by the Alberta Taxpayers.

The consortium not only get their water free they are left in a surplus position in allotments that allows them to sell water to municipalities!

The billions of dollars planned for the CCS program is totally paid for by taxpayers.  It is a scam that pumps CO2 down hole where it is used as a solvent to mix with hard to pump oil,  When mixed, the oil is saturated with CO2 as it returns to the suface the gas boils off.

The experience in Weyburn Sask is the CO2 vents for hours ahead of the flow of oil, sounding like a jet engine.

Down one hole and up the other.

The Feds are on page with huge tax subsidies to these same companies.

Albertans are paying the oil and gas companies to take the resource from the province.

We cannot afford any more Conservative BS!  Time to get rid of them  The WRP offers nothing different.








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