Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

American Corporations Have and Will Set Pace of Development: Analyst

Companies, not governments, control energy future: analyst

Today staff
Friday April 13, 2007

The American addiction to oil is fuelling the sizzling oilsands development in Fort McMurray, said a policy analyst from the United States slated to come here Monday.
"The only reason that the oilsands is being rapidly developed is because of the unabated demands from the United States," Tyson Slocum said. He's one of the two speakers at a Fort McMurray forum organized by Edmonton-based Public Interest Alberta Monday night.
Slocum, director of the energy program with Public Citizen in Washington, D.C., and Ottawa-based Tony Clarke, president of Polaris Institute, will be speaking in an open forum at Keyano College's Doug Schmidt Theatre at 7 p.m.
Wise use of oil by Americans can help slow oilsands development, but until then the brakes won’t be put on the environmentally destructive oil development projects, Slocum said from Washington.
But a Fraser Insitute report on Canadian-American energy market said slowing energy development could be disastrous to the Canadian economy.
Clarke and Slocum want to engage McMurrayites in a conversation on how the energy policy in Canada is tied to the future energy policy of the United States.
"We are heavily dependent upon Canadian imports and energy to sustain our consumption," Slocum said.
He said there are new proposals to overhaul the way Americans use energy and it makes sense to have an open dialogue with Canada on sustainable energy practices.

"In the United States, what that means is becoming more efficient in using energy. The United States is among the least efficient in using oil in the world," he said.
Slocum wouldn't say whether Americans dictate Canadian energy policy. However, he said to a certain extent it is tied to the U.S. because Canada's infrastructure is designed to service the Americans.
"What’s really interesting about the situation in Canada is that we really do not have anymore what you might call a made-in-Canada energy policy and strategy," Clarke said from Ottawa.
At one point, Ottawa decided and directed Canada's energy future, then it shifted to Alberta. That's the old model, he said.
“In may ways, decisions that are made in Houston and to some extent in Calgary,” direct Canada's energy future today, he said.
For Alexander Moens, a senior fellow with Fraser Institute, it's not the American nor Canadian governments that controls energy policy.
"It's the industry that's making the key decisions inside an integrated market between Canada and the United States," Moens said from Burnaby, B.C.
"I'm afraid that Polaris has a bit of an anti-American slant on its work and this may affect some of their comments," said Moens, who authored a report on achieving energy security through integrated Canadian-American markets.
He found in his study that Canadian and American industries work very closely together and it's best to stay that way. Government control of a market doesn't work, Moens said, citing the former Sovier Union, Cuba and Mexico as examples.
Market-based energy industries perform more efficiently than state-based ones, the economist said. Therefore, Canadians and Americans should not tamper with the success of the integrated energy industry between the two countries, said the Simon Fraser University professor.
His study concluded Canada must resist two temptations: nationalization of energy and slowing energy production due to pressures from environmental groups.
For instance, oilsands exploration is a complex environmental challenge as well as an energy-intensive process and, as production is ramped up, it is bound to attract critics who will call for ceilings or freezes on production.
For more information on the forum, go online to www.pialberta.org.

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