Alberta oil is ‘ ethical’
We have long called on government and industry to fight activists’ false claims with the facts. Now, two prominent leaders have joined the chorus — one from industry, the other an environmentalist.
Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE Corp., had harsh words for his audience of oil and gas producers at a chamber of commerce luncheon.
“ You guys have a collective problem that you have done a terrible job of marketing the technology, and that is on you,” he said in a speech last Friday. “ The fact that you’ve allowed yourself to be painted into this corner is ridiculous.”
Environmentalist and Greenpeace founder Patrick Moore hit all the salient points that need to be made when telling the narrative of the oilsands.
In a meeting with the Calgary Herald editorial board to discuss his new book, Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout, Moore says it simply comes down to providing the world with secure oil.
“ The ethical oil argument is watertight,” said Moore, who has a PhD in ecology from the University of B. C. “ There is nobody with a better environment or human rights record selling oil in this world.”
Part of Moore’s work in Calgary will include meeting with members of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, who can use all the help they can get in countering the loud-mouthed activists opposed to the development of carbon-intensive resources. They’re gaining ground by disseminating incorrect information.
Take the term Dirty Oil, which has gained tremendous traction as a catchall phrase for the evils of the oilsands.
Moore, who left Greenpeace when it put ideological beliefs over science, rightly questions the term.
Oil is not dirty, it’s oily. It’s also toxic. But so is all oil, not just oil from the oilsands. The oilsands is a piece of toxic real estate the size of Florida. Just because it’s natural, doesn’t make it any less toxic than an oil spill under a gas station, he argues. The difference is companies forced to clean up spills, spend millions to do so, while those extracting the oil from the sand make a profit. What’s more, they’re leaving the soil cleaner than they found it because they’re removing the oil from it. Moore, who does believe there are “ serious environmental issues involving oil,” simply wants a more truthful debate around the subject.
He explains the difficulty in measuring contaminants in the Athabasca River to determine what’s natural and what comes from industrial activity. There is a lack of baseline data because today’s technology now allows us to measure parts per billion.
The anti-oilsands campaign is a growing threat, with several American states mandating low-carbon fuel standards for transportation fuels. Lobby groups have succeeded in delaying a key pipeline expansion to Texas, on hold since July because of environmental concerns. The Keystone expansion would provide the first major access to a deepwater seaport for the oilsands, opening export to worldwide markets.
“ I think it’s pretty cut and dried,” says Moore, of his defence of the oilsands. “ We are the United State’s most important trading partner. They need the oil to run their economy and they’re going to need it for a long time to come. We are a friendly supplier of that oil.”
A friendly supplier, who needs to stop playing nice when it comes to countering smear campaigns that spread false information about Alberta oil.