Monday, March 29, 2010

Pen Meets Paper Mar.29'10

Opinion by Helge Nome
I am one of those people who claim that Big Energy is running Alberta for its own benefit, at the expense of Albertans. In other words, the tail is wagging the dog. When it is all over, we Albertans will be left to clean up the mess at our own expense.
Bold claim. How about some data to back it up?
In this area, at least, our government has kindly been doing its job and collected information setting out prevalent trends. (Source: Alberta Government, State of Environment) Tar Sands: 93,000+ hectares approved for development as at 2006. 41,000+ hectares being mined. 6,000+ hectares claimed to be reclaimed. Zero hectares certified as reclaimed.
Oil and gas well statistics reveal a similar sad tale: At the end of 1963 some 21,000 wells were abandoned for whatever reason by their owners and roughly the same number were certified as reclaimed by the Alberta Government. At the end of 2008, some 135,000 wells were abandoned and around 90,000 were certified as reclaimed. That is a deficit of some 45,000 wells and chances are that the last known corporate owners of a number of these no longer exist.
There are also about 500,000 kilometers, that’s right, half a million kilometers, of oil and gas pipelines in Alberta that belong to somebody other than you and I. Guess who will become the certified owners when their current owners loose interest and jump into the corporate waste paper basket?
That’s another troubling trend in contemporary society: A corporation is given the same legal privileges as an individual, but what happens when a corporation “dies” (goes belly up)? The individual shareholders are shielded for liabilities incurred if it is a “Limited” company. So who picks up the tab for environmental damage caused by its operation?
The Sydney tar ponds stabilization project in Nova Scotia tells the story: The taxpayer is on the hook.
A couple of years ago the Mackenzie BC pulp mill ended up in the lap of the BC government when the last known owner’s track reportedly went cold somewhere in the Caribbean. The workers kept the mill from freezing up over the winter with the help of the BC taxpayer who will likely foot the bill for mothballing it down the road.
That’s the problem when your elected representatives are effectively selected by big business. That’s the state of Alberta today and I invite anybody to challenge that statement.

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