Skip to comments.Yedlin: New York Times editorial attacks oilsands with clear vitriol, murky facts
Posted on 04/03/2013 1:16:30 PM PDT by thackney
Its one thing for citizens to have a healthy debate about a controversial issue affecting a jurisdiction but its another entirely to take the discussion outside those boundaries.
Thats exactly what Thomas Homer-Dixon did with his editorial page piece that appeared in the New York Times on Monday, excoriating the oilsands and suggesting it would be good for Canada if President Barack Obama does not allow the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.
The Waterloo University professor who is at the Centre for International Governance Innovation and Chair of Global Systems at the Balsillie School for International Affairs makes an assertion in the third paragraph of his article that Keystone is not supported by 42 per cent of Canadians.
For that to appear in prime real estate in the New York Times is anything but helpful.
But he isnt telling the whole story.
The Nanos poll from 2012 that he quotes actually showed 45.2 per cent support for the project and when you drill down into the numbers opposed, its clear a segment of the opposition is related to a concern regarding the need to diversify markets beyond the United States and to keep more jobs in Canada by boosting upgrading and refining capacity. In other words, while the environment is a concern and primarily in Quebec, which is far away from Alberta its not the whole.
Homer-Dixon also states many in the country want to see the tar sands industry wound down.
In survey after survey, the number of people in this country that want to see the oilsands shut down is between 12 and 15 per cent. The vast majority prefer to see continued development that addresses issues of sustainability and the environment, said Janet Annesley, vice-president of communications for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.
Has Homer-Dixon interviewed the owners of companies in Ontario who supply the so-called tarsands with equipment and pipe? What about the individuals who work at those companies who have jobs which enable them to pay taxes and provide for their families? And what of those workers in Ontario who travel to and from the oilsands region and wouldnt have as many options for work in the province without the oilsands? Those tax receipts help Ontario coffers and fund programs within the province.
Surely Homer-Dixon is aware of the challenges facing Ontarios economy. One would think that he would understand the economic theory of income distribution and the benefits of a mobile labour force.
And then theres the simple fact that energy is part of the everyday economy.
One wonders how Homer-Dixon chooses to travel. Does he ride a bicycle to and from his office? Does he eschew foods grown outside a 100-kilometre radius of where he lives? And is his clothing made from fabric grown in Canada? Do the labels of his clothing say Made in Waterloo, Ont.?
Homer-Dixon also asserts that the energy sector is causing Canada to take on petro-state characteristics. The revenues flowing from the development, production and sale of the resource, he says, is preventing Canada from investing in research and innovation at a level that it should be.
That may well be true but to put the blame entirely on the energy sector is to engage in, as economists say, spurious correlation. In fact, were Homer-Dixon to take a closer look, hed realize there has been plenty of innovation in the increasingly technologically heavy energy sector.
Lets take the development of technology that has unlocked the millions of barrels of light oil from tight formations in Canada and in the U.S. Thats the result of technological innovation. Then there are all the advancements in the oilsands extraction business that have contributed to greenhouse gas emissions per barrel dropping by 26 per cent since 1990.
What Canada and the energy sector do need to do a better job of is examining how the technology being applied in the energy sector could be used in other industries.
Oh, and one more thing. He needs to take the time to learn about COSIA the Canadian Oil Sands Innovation Alliance formed last year for the purpose of accelerating the environmental performance of oilsands producers through collaboration. There is no mention made of the progress made by Suncor on its tailings pond reduction operations, which will dramatically reduce the time it takes to reclaim the tailings generated by its mining operations.
Homer-Dixon also needs to check a few facts.
He asserts oilsands operations sucks up huge quantities of water from local rivers.
Clearly he is unaware that the energy sector as a whole is allocated seven per cent of the available water in the province. Yes, the Athabasca River is the primary source of water but the oilsands producers use less than three per cent of the lowest weekly winter flow of the river. In other words, not huge quantities.
He also appears to be unaware that when it comes to in situ development, almost all the water used is brackish cant be used for anything else because of the high salt content. And its recycled.
The biggest user of water in Alberta remains agriculture at 45 per cent where recycling isnt as easily done.
And, for the record, the oilsands industry uses 40 per cent of the water consumed by the city of Toronto.
Finally, there is the comment about the oilsands undermining Canadian democracy.
Now thats really funny.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper may call Calgary home, but the energy sector is anything but in his pocket. Can we start with the elimination of the royalty trust structure in 2006, which happened with nary a word of consultation with the industry and was simply presented as a fait accompli?
More than $30 billion in the value of oil and gas companies was erased overnight; if the industry was in bed with the government, one could argue this would not have taken place.
To suggest the country is prevented from having a debate is ludicrous. To debate and discuss is part of our Canadian values, said Annesley.
Homer-Dixon has done himself, and the country he calls home, a huge disservice.
He has chosen to interpret poll results in a manner that does not tell the full story. And he used the energy sector as a way to show his deep frustration with the federal government.
What he should have and could have done is aired his concerns within the confines of the country. In this way it could have formed part of what is really needed a national dialogue on energy strategy.
Instead, by taking the approach he did, Homer-Dixon has effectively excluded himself from any national discourse that will, eventually, take place.
I am not talking about the physical product but figures on paper, or a screen. It does not vary even if you are talklng about crude of different gravity. Like gold that stays in the vault, it still changes hands.
I don't follow. Unlike investments in gold, crude is bought and consumed, not held. Only the Strategic Petroleum Reserve buys oil to hold, but it doesn't change hands, unless it comes out of the ground and is delivered.
Trading on the market is not trading oil, it is trading the future delivery of oil. But I don't see how that relates to Alaska oil to Japan.
The oil that is produced in Texas and in Saudi Arabia ,all part of the pool of oil available for sale and use. in this respect, it is like the grain produced in the Ukraine or Argentina or Kansas. All is pretty close to being fungible,like cash.
To all- please ping me to Canadian topics.
Fungible based upon the limits and cost of transportation. There is a reason that essential the same quality oil in North Dakota has sold for ~$10 less than in Cushing, and that has been $10~20 dollars less than the coast.
typical lefty spewing out misinformation and manipulating the facts to suit your personal agenda..in short a bullcrapper...
The above article will give a flavour of the leftist hellhole where this Thomas Homer-Dixon bird “teaches”. This guy is a phoney back stabbing hypocrite and the article is riddled with the standard socialist talking points.
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