2012 30 x 38” 76 x 98 cm Acrylic on Canvas
Although there are discrepancies between what people in the industry, and environmentalists think about the oil sands development, it is agreed even by people in the oil industry who have an interest beyond the bottom line that development is happening too fast, every few years production is doubling. Oil companies, mostly foreign owned, are given tax breaks which allow 100% of the oil sands capital investment to be written off. We also have one of the lowest royalty rates in the world, which is contributing to “a runaway pace of development.” Already much of the easy conventionally drilled oil in Alberta is depleted, this combined with soaring oil prices, has led to a massive ramping up of development in the oil sands. The oil industry is working on better and cleaner ways to extract the bitumen, but they are not giving technology time to catch up with the environmental problem. Extracting oil from the raw bitumen in the oil sands produces 3 to 5 times more CO2 green house gasses than oil from a conventional oil well. Despite oil companies voluntarily reducing carbon emissions, daily increases in the scale of the oil sands operation mean that every “environmental parameter is worsening.”
The Oil Sands are employing the largest trucks in the world, which have a 400 Ton payload, to move out the raw bitumen for separation from the sand. Then the bitumen has natural gas added to it so that it will flow, and in this unprocessed state it is shipped, or piped to other countries for processing. The only thing shipping out raw bitumen helps is the immediate bottom line for oil executives and politicians. Preventing any more new projects from coming online and refining more of the bitumen into oil here in Canada would reduce the shipping costs, increase the number of jobs created in Canada, extend the life of the oil sands as a source of revenue, and give technology a chance to reduce the harm to the global environment. We are having a fire sale on our raw resources at the expense of the environment, our long term prosperity, and the industrial sector in Canada. The way the massive influx of money is being dealt with by the federal government harms Canada’s industrial sector, check out “Dutch Disease”.
SCA's 44th Open Juried Exhibition, Paper Mill Gallery, Todmorden Mills Museum, Toronto, ON 2012