Tuesday, July 27, 2010

An improbable failure

Not surprisingly, the Saskatchewan NDP has been all over the apparent demise of the province's joint carbon capture project with the government of Montana. But it's worth pointing out just how remarkable it is that the Wall government has managed not to get any support from the Harper Cons.

After all, carbon capture and storage has been basically the only idea with any environmental application that the Cons happily funded at every turn. And the reason for that is obvious based on their consistent desire to hand money to the oil patch.

If CCS gets fully developed on a commercial scale, it would at least eliminate much of the risk associated with future greenhouse gas emission regulations. But even more significantly, CCS would effectively create a license for the oil industry to print money if combined with the Cons' plan for "intensity" targets - as the industry would be able to ramp up production (and maybe even overall emissions) while using technology developed at public expense to sell carbon credits as well.

That combination of theoretical environmental appeal and a potential windfall for the oil industry is why the Cons have made CCS a regular recipient of federal largesse while they've been in power. So the province's pitch for funding should have been roughly as difficult as selling water to a traveller stranded in the desert.

But even a bar that low is apparently more than the Wall government can clear. Which makes the failure of the Montana project just one more reason to wonder how much else the Sask Party is managing to foul up against all odds.

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