Hicks on Biz: Alberta’s economic suicide BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED Edmonton Sun: SATURDAY, JULY 29, 2017
Will Albertans continue to sit on our hands and do nothing while national and provincial politicians - goaded by a vocal minority - plunge this province, and all Canada for that matter, into what is politely termed "de-industrialization" but ought to be called economic suicide? Are desperately needed new pipelines to carry the lifeblood of the Canadian economy - oil and gas - never to be built?
Earlier this week, any thought of exporting Canadian liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Asia died when the proposed $36 billion Pacific NorthWest LNG project was declared dead by its principal backer, Malaysia's Petronas oil company.
Goaded by environmental groups, Canadian governments piled delay upon regulatory delay upon this and other major energy projects. By the time the NorthWest LNG project was actually approved, Asian demand for natural gas was being met by Australian and American LNG exporters. Canadian LNG is considered no longer economically viable on world markets.
The companies and the investors behind these projects are giving up on Canada. Our reputation for political stability has been offset by overt political hostility to, and endless regulatory delay of, any new industrial activity, no matter how green.
Back in Alberta, the New Democrat provincial government de-industrialized electricity generation, paying out $1.3 billion to three energy companies to close coal burning power plants years ahead of schedule. It was an expensive, needless and hollow gesture. Alberta's coal plant CO2 emissions, on a world scale, are fleas on the elephant's back.
All this wouldn't terribly matter if Alberta was seamlessly transitioning its once-rich oil and gas economy to something else equally capable of building prosperity and wealth.
But we are not. Our government, academic, business and community leaders have no clue what that something else will be.
Just as Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and her merry band of socialists have no idea how the province will pay back the billions being borrowed every month to pay the government's bills, they are equally in the dark about how $10 billion a year in lost oil and gas royalties will be replaced.
What other sector will employ the 135,800 industrial oil/gas/coal workers of Alberta - down from 140,900 employees 10 years ago? Nobody knows.
I can tell you it won't be the renewable energy businesses, other than component assembly and installation. Companies manufacturing solar panels, wind farm turbines, mega-batteries and electric cars are already based elsewhere and have no reason to move to Alberta, far from principal markets.
A fantasy perpetuated by ever-optimistic entrepreneurs, economic developers, environmentalists and New Democrat politicians says, by golly, something will just come along to replace oil, gas and coal.
Just sit tight. High-tech, artificial intelligence, megadata and health companies will somehow flourish, will somehow soak up those 135,800 well-paid but disappearing jobs in the industrial sector. Clean cool technology parks will replace the horrible desecration of sacred Mother Earth at the tar sands.
But where's the blueprint? There's no discernible government/industry plan to replace the deliberate de-industrialization - the economic suicide - that's now taking place.
There is a clear alternative to de-industrialization. It's just being ignored by the New Democrats in Alberta, and the Liberals in Ottawa.
Alberta's place in the new energy world is not about killing fossil fuels, but about greening them.
Dramatically reducing carbon emissions from those industries that made us rich in the first place is not only practical but a golden opportunity.
Instead of vilifying natural gas, Alberta should be celebrating and promoting this fuel that more than satisfies Canada's commitment to reducing our national carbon output ... and still keeps the oil/gas patch alive and kicking.
Alberta should be pouring its research and commercialization effort into cheap technologies to dramatically lower the carbon content and greenhouse gas emissions from all the fossil fuels we have in such abundance. What better world contribution than an inexpensive way to reduce CO2 emissions from coal - the world's cheapest and most bountiful fuel? This will not happen during Notley's watch. Her party has thrown its lot in with the extreme environmentalists and believes deeply in de-industrialization ... with no plan to replace the industry being killed.