20 July 2011

The energy ministers' Orwellian statement

The news release and action plan issued by the provincial energy ministers following their recent conference in Kananaskis stepped rather lightly over environmental concerns. Perhaps this is not unexpected at a meeting paid for in part by oil companies. One statement went beyond treating environmental concerns lightly to the point of trashing them. I refer to the comment in the news release that reads, “As global energy demand is expected to grow over the coming decades, Alberta’s oil sands are a responsible and sustainable major supplier of energy to the world.”

The statement is patently false. The oil sands may be a vast resource, but they are nonetheless finite and therefore, by definition, unsustainable. Furthermore, considering they represent the dirtiest form of oil produced, to refer to them as responsible is Orwellian.

If this reflects the energy ministers attitude toward, to say nothing of their understanding of, dirty oil then we, and the environment, are in serious trouble. The fact that the energy ministers of Manitoba and Nova Scotia signed on to this communiqué particularly disturbs me as I had thought the NDP had a more enlightened approach to dealing with climate change.

All is not dark, however. Ontario Energy Minister Brad Duguid, who did not attend the conference, said his province wasn't "comfortable with the wording that the oil sands are sustainable and responsible.” One province at least is on the side of the angels. As for the others, one despairs.

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