Setting a deadline 85 years from now to stop burning fossil fuels may be politically safe, but it completely ignores the science that tells us we need to leave the majority of global fossil fuel reserves underground, including upwards of 85 per cent of Canadian tar sands reserves. Time is of the essence, and every day is crucial as we work to wean our society off carbon-intensive fuels on to renewable energy.
While the Alberta Energy Regulator has made regulatory orders in some cases, no charges have been laid related to any of the oil spills that made headlines last summer. And for the most part, the public remains in the dark about how those spills have affected their communities and the environment. As the AER enters its second year, it has a golden opportunity to live up to its big promises.
Stephane Dion, the former Liberal leader, once said that "there is no environmental minister on Earth who can stop the oil from coming out of the sands, because the money is too big." But that was a long time ago and he probably hadn't considered that numerous countries would take action to curb fossil fuel demand.
By the end of this month the federal pipeline regulator, the National Energy Board (NEB), is expected to approve Enbridge's proposal for its 38-year old Line 9 oil pipeline in Ontario and Quebec, which would carry shale oil -- known for its propensity to explode as it did in North Dakota. With that in mind, the province of Ontario must hold its ground on Line 9 and ensure its demands for a safer pipeline are met.
Environmentalists and union activists should be making common cause by explaining how tar sands profits that go to the rich and powerful cost Canadian workers hundreds of thousands of jobs. Expansion of the tar sands and the resulting bouts of Oil Sands fever may be good for capitalists but it will further weaken the job market and do great harm to Canadian workers.