Alberta Tar Sands Ed Stelmach

alberta’s throne speech. take two.

With everything going on these days from the NHL playoffs, to Dick Pound and the Beijing Olympics, and RCMP “raids” on Conservative Party offices (an issue on which I tend to agree with Paul Wells) did anyone notice that Alberta had a Speech from the Throne this week? I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t.

As this is Alberta’s second Throne Speech of the year, the lessened fanfare is understandable. The first Throne Speech of 2008, which coincided with the election call, seemed to consist largely of the Tories’ last minute change of heart on Health Care Premiums (which they promised to scrap in four years) and their vigilant fight against the Pine Beetle (something that was noticeably absent from the second speech).

A large part of this week’s Throne Speech delivered by Lieutenant Governor Norman Kwong, focused on a new direction for “greener energy,” which I can only assume has something to do with the Tories nuclear agenda for the Peace Country. As much as I would hope that Tory Premier Ed Stelmach and Environment Minister Rob Renner’s new green agenda is more than just hot air, I wouldn’t blame Albertans for having a hard time believing that an outspoken defender of the tarsands current environmental record is serious about protecting the environment, rather than just changing political perceptions.

A report card released earlier this year by the World Wildlife Fund highlighted the weak-environmental performance of tarsands developments in Alberta:

the most comprehensive comparative assessment of 10 of Alberta’s operating, approved or applied for oil sands mines. The mines, for the most part, get a failing grade.

The average score among all oil sands projects surveyed was only 33 per cent, demonstrating substantial room for improvement across the sector. The leading operation in the survey was the Albian Sands Muskeg River Mine, scoring 56 per cent. The weakest operations were Syncrude and the proposed Synenco Northern Lights Mine both with scores of 18 per cent.

Oil sands mines were ranked on 20 different environmental indicators in five categories: environmental management, land impacts, air pollution, water use, and management of greenhouse gases. Companies were invited to complete the survey questionnaire and provided with two opportunities to comment on their performance. In total, seven of the 10 projects participated in the survey. Three companies, Total E&P, Syncrude and Canadian Natural declined to respond.

Alberta Royalty Review Alberta Tar Sands Peter Valentine

suiting up for spring session #2: the valentine report.

Just in time for the Spring Session of the Alberta Legislature to start, former Auditor General Peter Valentine’s long-time coming report, “Building Confidence: Improving Accountability and Transparency in Alberta’s Royalty System,” on the accountability of Alberta’s oil and gas royalty review collection system has been released and the reaction seems to be a bit scattered…

Disappointing Valentine royalty report makes things murkier than ever (Paul Simons, Edmonton Journal)

New report looks like a whitewash (Graham Thomson, Edmonton Journal)

No “super-ministry” needed to handle royalties (CBC)

Valentine’s massacre more like a pillow fight (Don Braid, Calgary Herald)

I Read Dunn and Valentine and I Still Don’t Know If Albertans Are Getting Their Fair Share of Royalties (Ken Chapman)

Gov’t says it may have gotten it wrong (Edmonton Sun)

A Billion Questions (Jeff Cummings, Metro)

Royalty Regime up in the air (Neil Waugh, Edmonton Sun)

Public Confidence Continues to Erode in Department of Energy (Alberta Liberals)

Valentine Report New Spin on Bad News (Alberta NDP)

Expect this to be a hot topic when Spring Session begins…

Alberta Tar Sands Exxon Mobil Corporation Imperial Oil Kearl Lake

and in oily tar sands news…

Habitat – 1
Imperial Oil – 0 (well, not really zero, but for the purpose of this post…)

A major oil sands expansion has been thrown into doubt as it has lost a critical permit to proceed. The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has revoked the water permit for Imperial Oil’s Kearl expansion in the Athabasca oil sands.

A spokesman from the DFO said “[Imperial Oil has been notified by letter that they are not authorized to procees with any works or undertakings that will cause harmful alteration or disruption or destruction of fish habitats or that destroys fish.”

Imperial Oil is majority owned by the Exxon Mobil Corporation.

Alberta Tar Sands Fort McMurray

tar sands, the selling of alberta.

Tune in to CBC at 9pm on Thursday, March 13, 2008 to watch a new documentary film on Alberta’s tar sands titled: TAR SANDS, THE SELLING OF ALBERTA.

Tar Sands: The Selling of Alberta captures the intersecting storylines of a remarkable cast of characters eager to cash in on the oil boom in Fort McMurray, Alberta. Washington lobbyists, Newfie pipefitters, Chinese investors and Norwegian industrialists descend on tar-soaked “Fort McMoney”, a modern-day Eldorado, where rents are sky rocketing and cocaine abuse is four times the provincial average. Up for grabs – a stake in a $100 billion energy bonanza and Canada’s economic sovereignty.