Saturday, July 06, 2013

Should We Be Boosting--even Subsidizing-- Bitumen Exports to China?

The attached link to the Munk Debate between Michael Byers and Brian Lee Crowley provides a good summary of the opposing views of  educated protaganists on the expansion of the tar sands.

A couple of years ago the government of Alberta ran fancy ads on TV showing schematically the operation of carbon sequestration in the tar sands. After a year or so they dropped the ads. Why?

Because critics had forced the government to admit that it didn't describe an operational reality, only a technology that wasn't yet economic. Crowley's proposed solution--export as much bitumen as possible and hope that the investment thereby generated will result in the technological improvements needed---is not sufficiently sensitive to the genuine crisis that is climate change. We are far too close to the tipping point of runaway climate change to allow such logic to govern our policy-making.

I suspect that the unspoken fear of conservatives is that cleaner energy alternatives WILL appear in the future--meaning that a window of opportunity to cash in on the trillion dollar bitumen bonanza will have been missed.  That is not an acceptable attitude.  We should limit bitumen exports until technology makes it as clean as conventional energy reserves. That is the only responsible path forward.

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