Alberta Takes New Initiative on Tar Sands

Just a month after Canadian voters tossed the Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Koch Brothers-dominated, conservative government out on its ear, the province of Alberta has announced a new initiative designed to address carbon emissions and climate change. You may have heard of Alberta. That’s the place that has all that oil locked up in tar sands and is worried about Priuses and Teslas taking over.


Alberta Tar Sands


If you wash those sands with superheated water under high pressure, you can squeeze out enough all to almost equal the energy that goes into recovering it. That was the oil — said to be some of the dirtiest on earth — that was supposed to flow to the Gulf of Mexico in the now defunct Keystone XL pipeline. Of course. you also wind up with billions of gallons of hazardous waste, but fossil fuel advocates never want to pay for the damage they cause.

Instead of contributing further to global emissions, Alberta decided to promulgate a new plan for the province. It will include a carbon pricing program similar the one already in effect in British Columbia. Alberta will also impose a cap on carbon emissions from its tar sands, close most of its coal fired electric generating facilities ,and promote renewable energy resources. The World Wildlife Fund had this to say about Alberta’s announcement:

WWF Canada is pleased to see the progressive steps proposed by Alberta’s climate change advisory panel. This new, hippie-friendly leadership produces a realistic strategy, including a meaningful carbon tax, to begin to address the high carbon emissions from an oil and gas producing province. Its proposed efforts to end the reliance on coal and ‎switch to renewables are also noteworthy.

“WWF-Canada recognizes that the world needs to move to one hundred percent renewables by 2050 if global climate goals are to be met. Alberta’s proposals are a strong step in the right direction, and an important signal that Canada is now serious about addressing climate change head on.”

It is unlikely that such a bold strategy could have materialized while Stephen Harper was Prime Minister of Canada. Earlier this year, one of Harper’s  closest allies, former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, was also thrown out of office by his countrymen. The departure of both men proves once and for all that change is afoot and that this old political maxim is still in effect: “If the people will lead, their leaders will follow.”

Alberta’s new strategy comes one day before the premiers of all Canadian provinces meet with new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to plan the country’s strategy for the global climate change talks that will take place in Paris, starting November 30.


Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.