In my life as a community blogger I occasionally get emails and messages from those curious about where I live. Sometimes they come from those who have been to northern Alberta, and sometimes they come from people from countries far away, wondering if this is the place they have been looking for to change their fortunes.
We should learn from history. What the oil lobby glosses over is that this boom, like every other boom, could go bust. Instead of putting all our eggs in the oil sands basket, instead of digging up Alberta at a break-neck pace, we should be more balanced and strategic in our approach. And we should develop a plan to wean our economy off oil.
The same U.S. foundations that fund conservation in Canada also fund American groups working towards energy security, including a foundation called Securing America's Future Energy. The name says it all. American foundations aim to reduce fossil fuel dependence to stop global warming and strengthen U.S. national, energy and economic security. That's clear. What's unclear is whether they fund conservation initiatives in Canada, in part, to foster U.S. energy security.
We looked at the $1.3 billion in taxpayer money our federal government currently hands to the oil industry in the form of subsidies and asked: what if, instead of subsidizing polluters, the money was invested in industries that cut pollution? We crunched the numbers and found that $1.3 billion invested in renewable energy or energy efficiency could create between 18,000-20,000 jobs.
A group of Canadian businessmen has obtained the blessing of Alaskan tribes and Canadian First Nations to build a railroad through their lands that could carry up to five million barrels per day from the oil sands to the super tanker port in Valdez, Alaska. This is truly a nation-building project that must be seriously evaluated by all governments and the oil industry.
Canada's entire "energy superpower" strategy hinges on high-priced oil, and a recent International Energy Agency report demonstrates that betting on high prices is risky. Canada should pin our future prosperity to the burgeoning renewables market, rather than doubling down on oil. It's the only choice we have for the sake of our environment. And it's the best path forward for our economy, too.