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An Irresponsible Energy Strategy


The Conservatives in Canada’s federal government, as well as those in Alberta’s provincial governmental, are eager to expand the production oil in Alberta’s Tar Sands.  But, in order for that to happen, pipelines must be built to get the bitumen into the hands of new customers.  There is the Keystone XL pipeline to Texas.  The Northern Gateway pipeline to the Pacific Coast of British Columbia.  And now, the latest addition to the collection of Tar Sands pipeline that will (I hope) never get built is a proposed pipeline that would go from Alberta, through Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec to end up at refineries in Atlantic Canada.  The distance between those two end points, in a straight line, is beyond 3,000 km (or 2,000 miles for those who do not use the metric system).

Alberta to the Maritimes, according to Google Earth.

Alberta to the Maritimes, according to Google Earth.

Obviously, the real length of this pipeline will be much greater.

Politicians here in Atlantic Canada (most notably the premiers of PEI and Nova Scotia) seem very excited about the idea.  They make the usual arguments that this pipeline will create “economic growth” and “jobs” while “reducing energy prices”.  All of which is highly debatable.  But now, there is a new argument: that of a “national energy strategy”.  At their annual meeting last weekend, Canada’s premiers made us believe that this Alberta-to-the-Maritimes pipeline will be the first step in a Canadian energy strategy – one that is founded on the exploitation of non-conventional fossil fuel sources such as the Tar Sands and shale gas.

I couldn’t help myself… I decided to write to my local paper (although I don’t believe they’ve printed my letter.  But that’s OK because I also e-mailed it to various politicians).  Here is what I had to say (limited to only 350 words):

An Irresponsible Energy Strategy

During their annual meeting last weekend, Canada’s premiers discussed the possibility of a national energy strategy revolving around a proposed pipeline from the Alberta Tar Sands to the Maritimes.  Such a pipeline is terrible idea for a variety of reasons.  However the strongest argument against it happens to be the one that nobody talks about: climate change.

The math on climate change is simple.  The proven reserves of fossil fuels (oil, coal, natural gas) around the world add up 2,795 billion tonnes of carbon.  In order to limit warming of the planet to 2 degrees Celsius (which, according to climatologists, is the point at which dangerous climate change becomes catastrophic climate change) we can only burn the equivalent of 565 billion tonnes. In other words, we need to leave 80% of the world’s reserves in the ground in order to avoid catastrophic climate change.  Not only that, but we need to get off of fossil fuels very quickly: at our current pace we will burn through that 565 billion tonnes in 16 years!

The International Energy Agency (IEA) supports these numbers.  They are the facts we have to work with.

That makes a pipeline from the Tar Sands to Atlantic Canada completely irresponsible because it will encourage the burning of fossil fuels and delay investments into renewable sources of energy.  And that is the complete opposite of what we must do.  Canada does need a national energy policy.  However, that policy needs to based on the fact that we must aggressively tackle the threat of climate change.  To do so, our energy policy needs to revolve around energy conservation, energy efficiency and the development of renewable sources of energy.

We have to adapt our policies to the reality of climate change.  Let us start by stopping this irresponsible pipeline.

I hope somebody reads it…

12 Comments leave one →
  1. 2012/12/02 8:56 am

    I read it, and I will pass it on to

  2. 2012/12/02 10:44 am

    I reposted this to the Harbinger, if that’s ok with you.

  3. 2012/12/02 11:12 am

    Please join my campaign to stop the escalating tar wars.
    Write To Rex, Write Away –
    My latest letter to Rex quotes your letter to the editor. ;-D

    • 2012/12/02 6:43 pm

      Are you sending these letters by mail or e-mail?
      By the way, I’m glad my letter was of use!

      • 2012/12/03 2:04 am

        Snail mail, sometimes Certified – Return Receipt. I know they are being opened, but only one actual reply from Larry L. Harlan, Manager, Corporate Citizenship and Community Investment.

  4. 2012/12/02 11:12 am

    “They make the usual arguments that this pipeline will create “economic growth” and “jobs” while “reducing energy prices”.”

    Bloody morans can’t see beyond their noses. Brilliant strategy: boost jobs building a pipeline to transport a resource that is killing us, and don’t worry about what happens down the line when the resource runs dry.

    No doubt their strategy at that point in the future-they-don’t-want-to-think-about will be to promote the creation of ‘economic growth’ and ‘jobs’ while ‘reducing energy prices’ by installing a treadmill inside the pipe and having slaves running down it all day long.

    P.S. typo alert: “… that policy needs to be based on…”
    Intriguing. The last typo I spotted (not on your website) was also a missing ‘be’. Maybe it’s a subconscious meme going around: “to be, or not to be…”.

    • 2012/12/02 6:45 pm

      And they are all very temporary jobs. Except for the three guys that will be hired to monitor the pipeline (if that!).

  5. Daniel Plourde permalink
    2012/12/02 3:53 pm

    Joce, I read it too and you are absolutely right.

    Canada’s National Energy policy is something that we as Canadian should have had a long time ago. The only thing we have close to this is how much money we can put into the oil sand and how much can we let other countries dilapidated our resources on the only basis that it will create more employment. The argument that the pipeline to the Maritime would reduce to cost of energy is bogus. We live in an open market and Canada does not control the price of oil. The international market does.

    I believe that oil is a resources that need to be part of our National Energy but this must be balanced with the serious development of renewable energy and a conservation culture that need to increase with time so that we rely more on renewable than non-renewable energy in the long run.

    Our current approach to our National Energy Policy is irresponsible and immoral.

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