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Winning the War! – The Oilsands Debate


This is a follow-up to my blog earlier this week regarding an Editorial in the Calgary Herald newspaper.
I was invited to be the keynote speaker back in November at the Canadian Waste and Recycling Expo in Toronto. During my presentation I talked about how projects get blind-sided by the environmental movement and by many politicians who take the easy way out rather than support vital projects. I also commented that, in my view, the tide is beginning to turn and accommodations will be found between all parties, using the forestry industry as an example.
I think there has been a major step forward with regard to the oilsands. Patrick Moore has released a book entitled, Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout (I have not read it). Mr. Moore is an environmentalist, has a PhD in ecology from the University of B.C. and was a founding member of Greenpeace. The editorial noted that Mr. Moore left Greenpeace when it put ideological beliefs over science. Now, isn’t that a revolutionary event.
Regarding the oilsands, in my September 2010 blog I commented on the new phrase “ethical oil” versus “dirty oil”. Mr. Moore commented on Alberta’s situation with the oilsands stating that; “the ethical oil argument is watertight. There is nobody with a better environmental or human rights record selling oil in the world.”
Now, for all of you hand-wringers who think that Moore is selling out, it doesn’t sound like it to me because he believes there are serious environmental issues involving oil”. He does suggest, however, that there should be a more truthful debate on the issues and, as the editorial points out, less dissemination of incorrect information by, as the paper puts it, the loud mouth activists.
How does this relate to the events we are seeing in the world over the past two weeks? Let’s be realistic; Moore says it for me; “I think it’s pretty cut and dried, we are the United States’ most important trading partner. They need the oil to run their economy and they’re going to need it for a long time to come. We are the friendly supplier of that oil.”
My summary; politicians and ordinary residents are hearing the message, let’s keep our foot on the gas.
Everyone, including the oil industry, acknowledges the need for continuing environmental due diligence and improvements in how we manage development in the oil sands. But, in my view, Alberta, and indeed Canada, should be proud of what we can contribute to the world in energy, especially during these periods of political upheaval, when we will be playing an even more critical role in ensuring long-term energy stability.
We should not hide our heads in the sand, (if you will pardon the pun) we should demand constructive and progressive dialogue, not just suggest we should have it. And all parties to the environmental movement should recognize the importance of that approach and come to the table.
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