The Alberta taxpayer has been saddled with the responsibility for cleaning up over 300.000 end-of-life and abandoned wells in Alberta. These are the legal obligations of conventional energy operators that are being let off the hook by irresponsible provincial government politicians and lax regulatory enforcement and an unaccountable industry.
Albertans, and Now Canadians, Are Likely to be Screwed Around on well Clean-Up?
This video is a year old. It is well worth the half-hour of your undivided attention. I assure you that it will demand your attention and create some tension in you as well. So much destruction is being in your name as a Citizen of Alberta. You need to be More Aware, Better Informed, Effectively Engaged and yes, Assertively Activated around these issues.
You can up your Citizenship roles and responsibilities, in this context, with the forthcoming October local elections. Oil and gas companies are not paying local levies, taxes, and landowners, and the Kenney government is obliging them but hurting your local government’s ability to provide necessary community services as a result. Start by making oil and gas well clean-up a local election issue!
The only thing that has changed in the year since this video, is the Canadian taxpayer is now also in for over a Billion Bucks for well clean up in Alberta. This federal subsidy for the industry is being justified as job creation. Not a bad thing but there is no monitoring of these funds, so far as we can tell. How many jobs are being created, at what actual cost? Are we learning how to do better more efficient well clean up through the process?
How many wells are being cleaned u, where, by whom, how quickly, and based on what quality control criteria? What about independent inspections so we can be assured the work being done properly, well with good value for money and slipshod? Is the industry still using its own funds to augment the tax dollars to accelerate the clean-up even more or are they continuing to avoid investing in well clean-up and continuing to evade their legal obligations?
Are landowners and local governments being paid now that there are tax dollars available to alleviate the clean-up pressures on operating companies?
COVID Exposed Many Failings, Faults, and Fragilities
There are serious economic and social pressures due to COVID. We need to get that under control before we can be effective in any post-pandemic shift to reviving the economy on a sustainable basis. The immediate downside of partial lockdowns is burdensome for sure. But we can’t just focus on the immediate.
We need to embed the additional post-pandemic social obligations to focus on fixing the multi-billion dollars needed for the energy sector well clean up and the low-carbon economy we need to create and adapt our economy towards to address climate change.
That means we need to grasp that all of this is cultural and therefore a societal problem. The economy is a social construct. We, as Albertans who own the natural resources, get to decide what kind of economy we want in the future.
The environment is not a social construct we create, nature imposes limits. However, we do have our stewardship responsibilities to the environment and that is a social-cultural dynamic that is within our control.
We Albertans have done a terrible job of resource development management, creation of equitable sustainable wealth from them, and ensuring environmental protection in the process. The frailty of our economy, the clear and present danger to the environment, and the social cohesion of our province, and even our Democracy, are all now in serious jeopardy.
We are now more aware of these faults and frailties than ever, thanks to the truths being exposed by COVID. We have a short-term, fiscal, social, and political focus on vaccinations as a device to enable responsible “re-opening” of the economy in a controlled pandemic province.
That is good. so far as it goes, but it cannot deflect and divert from the even greater issues we need to grapple with, like well clean up and climate change as part of the immediate future planning.
We need to Grow Up, Show Up, Clean Up and Change…by intentional design not imposed disaster.