Alberta’s oil sands are back on the Green’s hit list. And this time the Greens are playing dirty.
A couple of weeks ago the San Francisco based environmental group, Corporate Ethics International—which has few ethics and works closely with the Sierra Club and Greenpeace—spent $50,000 erecting billboards in Denver, Portland, Seattle and Minneapolis that deride Alberta as home to "the other oil disaster.” The campaign urges tourists not to go there.
The billboards—which may be coming to a city near you even if you live in Europe—showcase a dead duck found in a Syncrude tailings pond and an oil-soaked pelican in the Gulf of Mexico.
Now I have been to Alberta’s oil sands on a couple of occasions and I can tell you that the land is scarred. Squeezing oil out of shale is a tough and dirty business and the waste ponds there do kill ducks, although hardly enough to create a frenzy over. In fact fewer ducks die from being soaked in tailings ponds in the oil sands than are killed by flying into wind power turbines.
I need to make one more point: Canada produces 2 percent of the world’s greenhouse-gas emissions and the oil sands account for about 5 percent of that total. So while the Fort McMurray area is tarnished, it has a smaller carbon footprint on the world than a handful of Chinese coal-fired power plants. Still I can’t remember Greenpeace damning people that went to the Summer Olympics in Beijing.
I can also tell you that the last time I was up in the Fort McMurray area where Alberta’s giant oil sands are located was October, 2001. I took this trip in the wake of blown-up buildings and murdered Americans—Americans killed by Arabs, most of them Saudis, whose oil production American Greens don’t seem to have a problem with.
At that time I told my subscribers to Outstanding Investments that if I had to choose between energy security and some scarred land I would choose energy security. I also told them that if I had to choose between ducks and people; I would choose people every time.
My real outrage over this slander by the Greens against Alberta is that it is full of lies and it doesn’t even target what the environmentalists consider to be the problem—the oil sands themselves. Instead, it goes after an entire province and its tourist industry.
It was a topic of conversation here in Calgary last week at the Pacific Northwest Economic Region Summit. I was on hand and heard as people in business and government on both sides of the United States/Canada border condemned the latest smear tactics.
“I voted with my feet, I’m here (in Calgary),” said David Jacobson, the U.S. Ambassador to Canada. “To tell you the truth I think that ad campaign makes about as much sense for people not to come to Alberta to vacation because of the oil sands as it does for people not to visit Chicago because Illinois has coal.”
As an American who was born and now lives in Alberta, I can tell you it is a majestic place to visit. I have not seen greater beauty anywhere in the world than the Rocky Mountains that flank Calgary.
You might think that the Corporate Ethics group would understand that propaganda doesn’t work when the truth is allowed to get out.
Even the infamous liar, Supreme leader Kim Jong-il, has a better understanding of propaganda writes the Montreal Gazette: “The North Koreans don’t let their citizens travel. That is why Corporate Ethics International would like Alberta to be as isolated as Albania.”
There is just another tiny problem with the Alberta attack ads—they are filled without outright lies. Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach is particularly angry at the anti-Alberta ads, calling them a "propaganda campaign that is full of lies.”
Stelmach pointed out that claims about the size of the oil sands development, as well as the damage to water and air, are all grossly wrong.
Corporate Ethics International claims that Alberta’s oil sands are “twice the size of England.”
Not even close says Travis Davies, a spokesman for the Canadian Association of Petroleum. "There is a massive difference between 260,000 square kilometres and the reality of the Alberta oil sands, which is 600 sq. km. impacted and 65 sq. km. reclaimed." So much for truth in advertising.
Still, Alberta’s oil sands might seem like an easy target for the environmentalists, even in an age where radicals in the Middle East are targeting the U.S. That doesn’t mean that the Greens are being honest about the utility of Alberta’s oil sands.
“The environmental risks of the oil sands have been greatly exaggerated and overblown by activist organizations that have different agendas,” says Hal Kvisle, the former CEO of TransCanada, a North American pipeline giant. “These parties, such as Natural Resources Defense Council and Greenpeace, make statements about the oil sands that mostly aren’t true.”
America Needs Alberta’s Blue-Eyed Sheiks
I have some other news for the Greens—if they want to count on Arab oil—some of it from places where extremists continue to plot death and destruction on America—Alberta has plenty of other buyers. In fact China must be tickled pink at the Greens’ attack on Alberta because they are plowing plenty of money into Alberta’s oil sands so that they can secure their energy future in America’s backyard.
As for the U.S., it is on track to import as much as 3 million barrels of oil per day from Alberta’s oil sands by the end of this decade. Right now the U.S. consumes almost 1 million barrels per day of Canadian oil sands. Yet there are Greens in the Obama administration and in the Democrat party that want to derail oil sands imports in pursuit of more expensive green energy technologies—technologies that frankly do not yet exist and may not exist for years or even generations.
The politics of Green are blissfully ignorant that Canada has one of the largest stable oil deposits in the world just a scant distance from America’s borders.
If the Greens get their way and reduce or shut down the flow of Canadian oil, the U.S. will be more vulnerable, paying higher energy prices; in some cases for oil held by maniacal mullahs. And inevitably, China, America’s major competitor, will be enriched and empowered. If you ask me, it is a pretty stiff price to pay over some dead ducks.
Action To Take
Could Alberta’s oil sands do a better job of cleaning up the mess they are making? You bet. Meanwhile there is too much at stake for the U.S. to turn its back on this rich and secure energy source. As a result oil sands stocks will continue to prosper. I recommend you buy Suncor Energy Inc. (NYSE, SU, $30.82) and Canadian Oil Sands Trust (TSX: COS-UN.TO, C$27.52).
In fact just last week the Oil & Gas Journal wrote: “The blowout in the Gulf of Mexico and resulting ban on deepwater drilling in U.S. waters may prove a boon for Canadian oil producers,” including oil sands stocks. I couldn’t agree more.
Yours for real wealth and good health,
Myers’ Energy and Gold