Not only will the emissions possibly decrease due to lower oil sands activity, but maybe those spoiled companies will have to start making some investments into new cleaner technologies.
Hey All, good discussion. I loathe the huge tax subsidies these corporate tyrannies get, in addition to the tens of billions of dollars they suck out of the economy every year in profits and bloated revenue streams, while forcing us to pay exorbitant gas prices just so we can pollute our atmosphere to hell—largely because they have patents on all kinds of clean energy technology they are sitting on and won’t develop until they suck every last drop of crude out of the ground.
However, I don’t think that just cutting the subsidies alone will change their behaviour or make them clean up their act. What is really needed is a more democratic restructuring of that whole sector.
These Alberta oil brats are backed up by and financially tied to what is probably the biggest corporate cartel (with maybe the exception of the banks) in the world. These creeps not only get huge federal tax handouts and billions in clear profits, but the Pembina Institute, an Alberta sustainable economy research group, says they are being grossly under-charged in royalties by the Alberta government, which also refuses to implement any ecological standards on them. In addition, whether you think high gas prices are an issue or not, it’s easy to see the oil tyrants are screwing consumers blind—and yet, even on this front, no one is ready to challenge them.
Hate it as we might, these bonanza benefits and privileges they get are clearly the result of their coercive corporate power and international pull. The same plutarchs that have their paws all over the Alberta tar sands and oil patch also have their paws on energy and industrial complexes all over the world.
And they are protected by the biggest publicly funded goon squad in the world: the US government, which is militarily plowing over several countries right now on their behalf.
It seems all we really have to bargain against them with are:
1) the resources in the ground, and;
2) the skilled labour of Canadians to both extract it and restore the ecology
So, I think, that’s what we have to build on
Back in the 1970s in BC, the NDP government set up the BC Petroleum Export Corporation, a subsidiary of BC Hydro (which still then owned the natural gas production as well).
The idea was to further develop the BC oil patch, in the Peace River country, and sell it to the US, which was suffering from high crude oil prices, at 10 to 15 per cent less than the OPEC rate. Even with that discount, the rate of return was over twice as much as all of the exploration and extraction costs combined.
In addition, the publicly owned firm would set as its operations policy a mandatory ecological reclamation and restoration program, which, in addition to cleaning up the oil patch activities, would pay for new parks and conservation areas all over the province.
Furthermore, that company also had the mandate to use part of the revenues to invest in research and development of new non-fossil fuels and motor technology (remember, this was the early 1970s, when Ballards and solar panels and hydrogen electro-statics, etc. were still just theories). The firm would then patent those developments and begin marketing them when ready.
The rest of the revenues would go into road and highway improvements and public transit expansion.
Sadly—very sadly—when the NDP eventually lost the election and the Socreds took power, one of the first things they did was disband the company and sell its assets and holding to their private sector corporate buddies.
I think it’s time to look at something similar federally. While most of the tar sands and oil patch activity is under the direct or indirect control of multi-national corporations, the actual sands and patches are still public assets. If we can push for the creation of a public enterprise over those assets, with partnerships with community cooperatives, labour-sponsored venture capital funds and union pension plans (if we can change the laws so unions have democratic control over their money, instead of banks and elite investment houses) and local progressive-minded small business. This way we can mandate these operations from the very start to implement Kyoto-style standards and practices.
We can then say that if the US wants our oil and gas that bad, and refuses to even consider clean energy technology and the Kyoto protocols, then we should sell it to them at a rate below the OPEC price. That should keep them reasonably happy.
After all, they are going to pollute the atmosphere with GHGs and other shit whether they use our oil or not. We can sell all they want to them and, like the old BCPEC, use the revenues to develop, patent and mass produce new clean energy and fuel technologies. When the US does finally come to its senses (if it has any), and starts seriously switching more to non-fossil fuels, we can sell them these as well.
I realize this is just an abstract idea right now, full of holes and even some contradictions. But I think it’s something for the NDP, labour and other progressive democratic organizations to look into.
Cutting the subsidies and pay-offs is great.
But given what these energy tyrannies are like, and their history, I don’t think simply slapping them on the wrist by cancelling their subsidies is enough. I think we need to starting taking their toys away and kicking them out of the sand box.