Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Jim Stanford points out that any "bitumen bubble" will only get worse if the Cons and their provincial cousins get their way in shifting the Canadian economy even further toward immediate tar sands extraction:
(I)f the problem exists because we’re pumping out raw bitumen faster than markets can absorb it, will it really help to pump it out even faster? Few analysts believe the Keystone pipeline to the United States would solve the problem, even if it does get built; at best, it would displace downward price pressure from Oklahoma southward to Louisiana. Pipelines through British Columbia are unlikely to be built, for environmental reasons. And even if Canadian oil could reach Asia, remember that there are similar price risks there – including alternative supplies, conservation and environmental constraints. In sum, the inherent limitations of an economic strategy rooted in the extraction and export of raw resources cannot be overcome by simply finding another foreigner to sell to.

The sheer waste and irrationality of the Canadian discount should be addressed with alternative measures. Instead of extracting and exporting raw commodities, we should strive to add more value to our resources right here in Canada. Upstream, we could use far more Canadian-made equipment in resource projects. Downstream, we could upgrade and refine the resource instead of saturating export markets with raw output. Even better would be to use Canadian petroleum refined at home to displace the expensive crude currently imported from Britain and Algeria.

Yes, this would mean slowing the pace of bitumen expansion, since there’s not enough demand in Canada, to absorb all the new bitumen the industry wants to pump. But we would extract much more value from each barrel. And we’d stop cheapening the value of our own non-renewable resources with this mad rush to export.
- Meanwhile, Stephen Leahy takes note of the Cons' effort to brand environmentalists as terrorists in order to silence dissent from the oil-at-all-costs extraction policy. Saskboy reacts with due outrage here at home.

- And Heather Scoffield reports that the Cons' supposed commitment to monitoring the environmental impacts of the tar sands has led to precisely zero public reporting so far - while any future reporting will be based less on the neutral and accurate presentation of actual results than a concerted effort to fit any result into the party line:
The hope is to start releasing data through a publicly accessible portal soon — perhaps by the end of the month, although no date has been made final.

Some types of data would be streamed continuously as scientists produce it. Other data would be released at periodic intervals of three or six months. And other categories would be released more holistically, presented in a way that would prevent analysts from coming to spurious conclusions based on a partial picture, Dodds said.
- Finally, speaking of complete failures, Amy Minsky and Mike Le Couteur took the time to check on the Cons' spin about reviewing ministerial expenses - and found that eight out of nine departments who responded (including Bev Oda's) featured absolutely no effort to determine whether expenses claimed were actually legitimate.

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