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.
It's gotten to the point where people in this region are wary of journalists. I've had some visiting journalists comment to me that they were surprised at how reluctant people have been to speak to them, how they have expressed alarm at the idea of speaking to a journalist from the outside media. And my only response is "Well, if somebody came to your house, visited you, ate dinner with you, laughed with you, talked with you, and then went away and wrote a story about how filthy your house is would you throw open the doors to speak to them again?"
Sometimes reading the national press makes me giggle. From those news stories one would get the impression the residents of my community fight about things like lack of parking, high rental costs, and our shortage of women. The funny thing is that we certainly have boomtown issues of just that nature, and other ones, too. But that isn't what gets Fort McMurray residents all hot and bothered. What gets people going here are issues that arise over where this community is headed - and one of those issues raised it's head recently over a little body of water in downtown Fort McMurray, a body of water called the Snye.
Basing our national energy strategy on the oil industry would would lead to too many emissions and too few jobs. Increasing our dependence on oil drives up the Canadian dollar which in turn hurts export-oriented sectors like manufacturing and forestry. The petro-dollar also makes our economy vulnerable to the boom and bust cycles typical of oil. In short, it's unwise to put all our eggs in an oily basket.
Many things are written and said about the oil sands, and one of the allegations frequently made is that the oil derived from the naturally occurring bitumen is "dirty", tainted with the stain of environmental destruction. While that debate rages on one rarely hears about what happens to some of the money generated by that so-called "dirty" oil. One may hear about corporate profits, and royalties, and high salaries - but one very rarely hears about philanthropy.