Todd Hirsch is an educated man. His daytime job is senior economist at ATB Financial (formerly known as the Alberta Treasury Branch, our very own bank created in 1938 by William Aberhart to thwart the evil machinations of eastern Canadian financial institutions ). So when Mr. Hirsch laments "no one’s telling the complete truth" about the oil sands, everyone should listen up.
That's the problem with spin-doctoring. As he says, "Both [environmentalists and industry] are busy 'educating the public' on what they want us to believe. Yet sadly, we’re left not knowing what to believe at all." Unfortunately, the same may be said about government efforts to sell the sands. It's unlikely, for example, that the Alberta Premier's $55,000 open letter in the Washington Post is going to sway too many Americans.
Obviously the main players need to improve their game. What we need is an energy narrative that tells the whole story, and authentically presents thorny issues at the same time it praises the sweet smelling roses. Likely that will require some kind of joint effort by ENGOs, industry and governments. The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement presents a useful model. Although it took two years to negotiate and was done without governmental participation, at least it shows what can be achieved when people get truly serious about forging a common future.
Posted On Jul 06 01:38PM
Looks like the $56,000 letter had less than the desired results. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Henry Waxman has sent a letter to SoS Clinton requesting a review and a delay of the Keystone and Alberta Clipper pipelines. Stelmach's PR team must be apoplectic - Waxman refers to the "tar sands" throughout his three page letter, using the term some 10 times. Can't even get the term "oil sands" to be used anymore in the halls of US power.
Posted On Jul 06 12:44PM
Good for Mr. Hirsch. True open dialogue and cooperation is so rare but the only way forward. Let's face it: we are not going to be done with oil any time soon! Not even oilsands oil! Polemicizing the debate (for-against) helps no one. We need to be pragmatic about this.
But climate change and environmental concerns are not just some hippie's extreme views either: the science is pretty clear. And so is the public opinion. The oilsands snub environmentalists at their peril (and maybe ours too).