It seems that underlying issues are not discussed in most articles about the Oilsands. The environmental issue is front and center and the economic importance of the oil sands project for Alberta and Canada. Nothing is said about the US economy. The oil sands project is regarded as in effect a source for US oil supplies and part of a US plan to ensure its own energy supplies.
The US wants Oil Sands production to increase five fold:
U.S. urges 'fivefold expansion' in Alberta oilsands production
Last Updated: Thursday, January 18, 2007 6:31 AM ET
Also, 99 per cent of our oil exports are to the U.S.:
Over 99% of Canadian oil exports are sent to the United States, making Canada, not Saudi Arabia, the United States' largest supplier of oil.
So the relationship of Oil Sands production to US energy needs is just left out of the story. Our relationship to the US is also left out when our role in Afghanistan is discussed.
Canada's economy depends on Alberta oil: Stelmach
Updated Mon. Jan. 28 2008 9:34 PM ET
The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER -- Canada depends on Alberta's oil-rich economy to fuel prosperity and any shut down in the province's oil industry would be felt across the country, says Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach.
The Alberta leader was greeted by protesters as he joined other provincial and territorial leaders in Vancouver Monday for Council of the Federation meetings focused largely on climate change.
But he was unapologetic.
"It's fact,'' Stelmach told reporters. "I'm not saying that in a boastful way.''
Stelmach said he knows Alberta is being singled out by environmental groups but the premiers were told that deep cuts by Alberta would be felt across Canada.
"Today, the economy of Canada is dependent in large part on the economy in the province of Alberta,'' he said at a press conference at the end of Monday's meetings.
"So if we were to race everyone and immediately reduce greenhouse gas emissions, that would mean a total shut down, a total shut down of the oilsands.''
Environmentalists have been calling on Alberta to re-evaluate the multibillion-dollar oilsands industry, saying pollution from the industry threatens to wipe out any gains other provinces make in cutting the greenhouse gas emissions largely blamed for global warming.
Stelmach, who is preparing to call a provincial election, said 1.25 million barrels of oil a day come out of the oilsands, most of it exported.
"If that happens, not only will there be significant job loss across the country, but there will be a radical change and we will lose a considerable amount of investment,'' he told reporters.
Stelmach said Alberta needs more time to implement its climate change agenda, which he deemed a real plan for a real problem.
"Albertans are buying it,'' he said.
Alberta plans to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions before they are released into the atmosphere.
Once in place, oil from Alberta's oilsands will produce fewer emissions than conventional oil, Stelmach said.
Alberta's plan calls for cutting emissions by 14 per cent by 2050, compared to British Columbia's plan to cut emissions by 33 per cent by 2020.
Talks could heat up as the provincial leaders try to find common ground on the issue of climate change but New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham, who served as the meeting chairman, said the other premiers didn't ''gang up'' on Alberta.
B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell said the leaders are all committed to reducing emissions but some will use different methods to meet the challenge.
"Setting the bar where we've set it will be successful for us in British Columbia,'' Campbell said. "Premier Stelmach will follow, obviously, the course he thinks is best for his province.''
Campbell said he didn't preach climate change to Stelmach or the others. He said British Columbia prefers to lead by example.
Manitoba Premier Gary Doer said he recalled days when Alberta would not admit climate change even existed.
"Having a plan and trying to deal with it is a step in the right direction,'' Doer said of Alberta. "We've gone from denial to acceptance.''
About two dozen protesters gathered outside of the waterfront hotel where the politicians were meeting, some dressed in polar bear costumes, other carrying placards denouncing Alberta's oil sands as "dirty oil.''
"Oooh, it's hot in here, there's too much carbon in the atmosphere,'' they chanted.
Protester Tzeporah Berman said Alberta is becoming politically incorrect because of its dirty oil.
"It takes three times as much energy from the tar sands than it does to produce conventional oil,'' she said. "This is dirty, dirty oil at a time when the world knows we have to clean up our act to address global warming.''
Monday was their only chance to target Stelmach during the two-day council.
He will not be attending Tuesday's federation meeting devoted solely to climate change. Alberta Environment Minister Rob Renner will take his place.
But global warming wasn't the only issue of concern to the premiers.
The premiers of Quebec and Ontario held a joint news conference calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper's federal government to aid their ailing manufacturing and forestry sectors.
"We have done much in order to ensure we can go through a transition period and emerge stronger,'' said Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty. "But we can do even more with the help of the federal government.''
Harper has proposed a development trust fund to help traditional industries that have suffered job losses and shutdowns.
But the prime minister has warned the money won't flow unless opposition parties pass his minority government's next budget.
"I am urging the prime minister to do as much as he possibly can by way of providing supports to Ontario and Quebec that are not dependent upon the outcome of the next federal election,'' McGuinty said.
He and Quebec Premier Jean Charest called on Ottawa to help companies invest in new economic opportunities. They also called for Employment Assistance changes to help laid-off workers.