OMG! Energy industry faces ‘existential threat’ from Hollywood, ‘ever-growing matrix of activists’

Posted on June 15, 2016, 1:38 am
10 mins

PHOTOS: Brad Wall, increasingly the Mr. Disagreeable of Confederation (Photo: Daniel Paquet). Below: Calgary’s Glenmore Reservoir as dreamed of by supporters of the Saskatchewan Party of Alberta. Actual Calgary beaches may not appear exactly as illustrated, either with regards to oil production or the quality of surf. Below that, environmentalist Mike Hudema in a tie that’s way too green and U of C economist Trevor Tombe’s recent chart comparing investment in Alberta and Saskatchewan. (Hint: You’ve been misinformed.)

Maybe Brad Wall should just calm down. I don’t know, take a Valium or something? Pick up his phone messages.

Yesterday, Saskatchewan’s still-popular-at-home Saskatchewan Party premier was enjoying the bright lights of Toronto, where he warned a well-heeled audience on Bay Street that if those darned Liberals in Ottawa try to impose a carbon tax, they’d better be ready for a constitutional challenge seeing as they’d be taxing two Saskatchewan Crown corporations and governments can’t tax governments.

OilyBeachThat’s an interesting argument for an old free marketer like Mr. Wall, but any old port in a storm, as we used to say in the heady days when I still lived on tidewater, for the man who clearly wishes to be seen as the oil industry’s palliest pal on the planet.

I expect the Trudeau Government’s lawyers will have four words for him, or for the justices of the Supreme Court, anyway: Peace, Order and Good Government. (Hint: They’re in the Constitution, and they mean something more than just a different take on Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.) But I guess we’ll have to see about that in the fullness of time.

It’s a weird strategy, though, for a guy with only one other item on his to-do list: get those pipelines built. Maybe if Alberta Premier Rachel Notley’s approach works out, he hopes he’ll be able to grab some of the credit and stake a claim for the efficacy of being disagreeable.

But it seems to me there’d be nothing like a long court case over the first thing to make the second thing as unlikely as possible to get approved in those parts of the country where a little bit of social licence is going to be required to get a pipe laid, even for Mr. Wall.

HudemaLast week, the increasingly disagreeable Mr. Congeniality of Confederation was in Calgary with the same message, plus more.

During his stopover in Cowtown, Mr. Wall told a sympathetic oil and gas crowd that their industry faces big trouble from Hollywood moguls, folks colloquially known as tree huggers, university-educated eggheads, self-righteous churchgoers, unco-operative pension fund managers, and “Grim Leapers.”

The latter, by the way, would be author and environmentalist Naomi Klein and her husband, who are supporters of the Leap Manifesto that was controversially approved for discussion by delegates to the NDP’s national convention in Edmonton last spring.

The former Cowtown, of course, is known nowadays as Oiltown. Mr. Wall took this particular message to a crowd at the Explorers and Producers Association of Canada, which purports to represent “Canada’s oil and gas entrepreneurs.” They met in the Petroleum Club. Readers will get the idea of why this was a simpatico venue for Mr. Wall to talk about what he summarized as “an ever-growing matrix of activists.”

He also expressed his usual opposition to carbon taxes – Cough! Cough! – seeing as one had been passed by Alberta’s NDP Government, the one that has a different strategy for getting pipelines to seawater than Mr. Wall’s Harperite approach, just the day before.

Now is not the time for a carbon levy, Mr. Wall intoned. (Hint: Never is the time for a carbon tax as far as Mr. Wall and his enthusiastic supporters in the Saskatchewan Party of Alberta are concerned. And that’s OK. It’s a position you can argue. But they really ought to argue it, instead of pretending they just want to tarry a little until the economy improves.)

TombeChartNaturally, as premier of a whole province with a population about the same size as Calgary, Mr. Wall took the opportunity last week to invite small oil and gas companies to leave Alberta for Saskatchewan, where they won’t have a provincial carbon tax to hate. This has sort of become a ritual with the Saskatchewan premier every time he comes to Alberta nowadays, and it ain’t real neighbourly.

Anyway, anyone who takes up the offer should be warned that investment is down in both Saskatchewan and Alberta, and it’s likely to remain higher in Alberta. The University of Calgary’s Trevor Tombe did the warning, and he’s an economist. Plus, they’ll have a 5-per-cent sales tax to hate in the flat province and nothing much to do on the weekend except carp about how they much miss the opera and the Stampede.

But never mind that just now. Because the biggest news in Mr. Wall’s Calgary speechifying was that, wait for it, “today there continues an existential threat to this industry.” That really got the MSM representatives scribbling in their steno pads and pounding their laptop keyboards.

“That might seem alarmist, or overly dramatic,” Mr. Wall said accurately. “… Except that it’s not,” he went on, rather less so.

“It’s posed by some who just aren’t comfortable that we have all this oil and what oil might mean,” he explained, channeling George W. Bush’s why-do-they-hate-us moment. (Possible answer: It’s our freedom?) “And it’s also posed by some who just want to shut it down completely.”

According to the CBC’s account of his well-publicized Calgary remarks, Mr. Wall said the fossil-fuel industry is losing the battle for public opinion and government policy. This much, at least, seems true, although it’s hard to see how he is going to turn that around by blustering about existential threats to a trillion-dollar-plus industry.

Unsurprisingly, this prompted chortles of glee in environmental circles. “And sometimes Brad Wall tells you you’re winning,” exulted Edmonton-based Greenpeace Canada climate and energy campaigner Mike Hudema on his Facebook page. “Amazing work to everyone on the front lines and all those pushing to respect climate science, Indigenous rights, and move to a 100% renewable energy future. #‎Winning.”

Indeed, Mr. Hudema could thank Mr. Wall for that, although, like the Saskatchewan premier, the environmentalist may be overestimating the degree of the movement’s success on this file for his own reasons.

Interestingly, there was none of this existential threat talk when Mr. Wall took his charm(less) offensive to Toronto.

As to Mr. Wall’s motivation for his Calgary warning, perhaps he’s pondering a run to be premier of Alberta now that Wildrose Leader Brian Jean seems to have shot himself in both feet and his party in all four. After all, surely it would be more fun to be in charge of a province that has two cities as big as the whole province you’ve got the keys to now!

Still, I thought a guy like Mr. Wall would have been opposed to governments “picking winners and losers” for special treatment, especially an industry he’d just officially designated to be a big loser.

Oh well, maybe Mr. Wall was so dazzled by bright lights he forgot to check in with the big bosses at CNRL, Suncor, Cenovus and Shell. They’re all on side with Alberta’s carbon-pricing plan and – who knows? – may be with Ottawa’s too.

Maybe he should check his Blackberry for messages.

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

27 Comments to: OMG! Energy industry faces ‘existential threat’ from Hollywood, ‘ever-growing matrix of activists’

  1. TENET

    June 15th, 2016

    You adroitly link George W. and Brad W.: they are quite a pair. They are little men who try and tackle big problems with their simplistic logic. They share a common platform atop a rusty, leaking oil barrel. Their personal interests and crusades are the petro interests.

    In places like Texas and the prairie outback, men like W and W can always find favour, a dinner audience, and some back slapping good ole boys, at the petro parlour.

    Brad W, like the nearly extinct prairie chicken, can still put on a brief display of courtship behaviour, but it is no longer a game of chicken.

    Reply
  2. Farmer B

    June 15th, 2016

    The day Brad Wall gave his speech they played excerpts on my favorite radio station. In one excerpt he talked about how if we switched to zero emission electric power as set out in the Leap Manifesto it would take 1.8 trillion in new infrastructure. Fair enough, but how much of our our electricity is produced with oil? Lots of coal but as far as oil I would think only in the arctic with diesel powered generators.

    I bring this up because environmentalists talk of a future without oil. We have a ways to go. In Canada in 2014 there were over 32.5 million vehicles registered in Canada. In 2015 there were just under 7000 plug in electric cars sold in Canada. Oil still powers our transportation. It also powers industry. As a farmer I use diesel powered equipment to plant and harvest my crop. At present no alternatives exist. My cattle can harvest the sun by eating grass which requires no oil but environmentalists want us to quit eating meat.

    Mining for iron ore and copper require the use of oil. The refining of iron ore requires coal. We transport goods by train and by ship this requires oil. Are we going to ground all airplane flight? This requires oil. I think using less C02 intensive methods to produce electricity is a great idea, let’s do it. But for this mythic future without oil at present is nothing but BS. Have a good day:-)

    Reply
    • political ranger

      June 15th, 2016

      The fact that you can’t drop in to your local walmart and exchange your existing petro-using products for some other kind of energy use does not mean that we won’t have a “future without oil”. There is plenty going on today.
      It’s likely that even in your lifetime you will see the end of petro-use for transportation. Industry, manufacturing, electricity production and heating are another thing entirely. You’re quite right to point out how embedded petroleum is in our economy.
      Nonetheless, governments, industry and society are already moving towards greater efficiency of use, a kind of ‘nega-watts’ scheme that will reduce the need, eventually, for more petro-production. Also and eventually governments will begin to claw back the massive subsidies being offered to the petro-business and a great many marginal producers will fail. This is part of the ‘creative destruction’ needed to transition from a (subsidized) petro-based energy grid to a (subsidized) renewables-based energy grid. Something else we are likely to see in our lifetimes.

      Reply
    • Expat Albertan

      June 16th, 2016

      Fair enough, Farmer, but you’d be surprised how fast things can change when there is a will. Take powered flight – at the beginning of the 20th century a couple bike mechanics invented a proto-airplane with canvas and wire. Sixty-six years later, humans set foot of the moon. That’s one lifetime (with maybe a decade to spare, at least at the time).

      To say we are still going to need oil tomorrow is not to say we will always need it. That’s a red herring argument we here a lot these days when people are arguing against renewable energy.

      Reply
    • Sam Gunsch

      June 17th, 2016

      ICYMI This story below of an electric-turbine long-haul truck was posted in another comment.
      But it’s worth posting everywhere and anywhere anyone challenges the viability getting off of oil for most transportation.
      It’s happening more rapidly than most forecasts of the last couple decades.

      And very likely, in a few short years we’ll see these trucks traversing Western Canada’s hilly and mountainous terrain.

      =================
      Al Gore’s Revenge — Internal Combustion Engines Stink and This Ridiculously Powerful Electric Turbine Truck Proves It

      excerpt: This vehicle boasts 2,000 horsepower (regular ICE trucks only have 500 horsepower), the ability to travel up hill at 65 miles per hour (ICEs really lag going up hill and can only do 20-40 mph on an incline) and to regenerate electricity from breaking while going downhill (ICEs regenerate nada).

      https://robertscribbler.com/2016/06/15/al-gores-revenge-internal-combustion-engines-stink-and-this-ridiculously-powerful-electric-turbine-truck-proves-it/

      excerpt: And, in total, more than 7,000 preorders for these beasts have been logged so far. A value of 2.3 billion dollars for the emerging electric vehicle trucking company. Nicola’s CEO noted in a press release yesterday:

      “Our technology is 10-15 years ahead of any other OEM in fuel efficiencies, MPG and emissions. We are the only OEM to have a near zero emission truck and still outperform diesel trucks running at 80,000 pounds. To have over 7,000 reservations totaling more than 2.3 billion dollars, with five months remaining until our unveiling ceremony, is unprecedented.”
      ===============================

      excerpt: As of yesterday, Nikola Motors announced the performance specs and preorders for its new hybrid electric long-haul truck. It’s a ridiculously awesome design — one that boasts across the board superior performance when compared to internal combustion engine based trucks that are currently available. The company producing this amazing feat of electrical hybrid vehicle engineering calls its new vehicle the Nikola One.

      Reply
      • Farmer B

        June 18th, 2016

        The Nikola Motors design uses a natural gas powered generator to power the electric wheel motors. Train locomotives use diesel powered generators to do the same. Natural gas would undoubtably better for the environment. The 375000 dollar price tag, 200000 more than existing trucks would dictate a change in freight rates to make it viable. At the end of the day still powered by fossil fuel.

        Reply
        • Sam Gunsch

          June 28th, 2016

          re: The 375000 dollar price tag, 200000 more than existing trucks would dictate a change in freight rates to make it viable.

          Viable? Viable?!!!

          ‘7000 preorders’

          Did you somehow not read this?

          excerpt: ‘And, in total, more than 7,000 preorders for these beasts have been logged so far. A value of 2.3 billion dollars for the emerging electric vehicle trucking company…’

          Reply
  3. Art

    June 15th, 2016

    “…the Leap Manifesto that was controversially endorsed by delegates to the NDP’s national convention in Edmonton last spring.”

    Not quite. The convention voted (narrowly) merely to discuss this misguided idea, not wholesale adoption.

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      June 15th, 2016

      Quite right, Art, illustrative of the dangers of writing late at night. I have amended it accordingly. Thanks as always to my readers, who are sometimes pressed into service as my editors too. DJC

      Reply
      • Shawn

        June 15th, 2016

        Except it is not a misguided idea Art. Maybe you should try reading it!

        Reply
        • Expat Albertan

          June 16th, 2016

          Agreed. In fact, the Regina Manifesto was more radical (after all, it called for the end of capitalism – and that position sustained the CCF and the NDP throughout the 20th century).

          Reply
  4. ken

    June 15th, 2016

    One hamburger at a fast food joint is an oil intensive product if you follow the energy input needed to get a cow from pasture to processing to market.

    As far as Brad Wall goes, he is denier of climate change. As Albertas need for irrigation increases due to increased drought conditions throughout the province and as snow packs and ice fields reduce, how is the province of Saskatchewan going to secure it’s future water supply? This is a far more important issue than watching Brad Wall jumping up and down with his hair on fire while speaking to a business group.

    Reply
  5. David

    June 15th, 2016

    Mr. Wall is sort of right – the rest of the world is moved on and he is a bit like Don Quiote fighting a battle of the past. Maybe that news hasn’t made it to all parts of Saskatchewan yet, but I think they have figured this out or are figuring it out at the petroleum club in Calgary.

    For those in Saskatchewan or elsewhere who wonder why they “hate” us, the answer is that they don’t. They hate the idea of continuing to dither while the world suffers more and more from the effects of climate change. These effects may not be as noticeable in Prince Albert right now, but climate change is not doing good things for islands in the south Pacific or drought prone areas like southern California or many other areas in the world. The rest of the world is acutely aware that time is running out to deal with this problem.

    Reply
  6. Mike from Edmonton

    June 15th, 2016

    “Mr. Wall took the opportunity last week to invite small oil and gas companies to leave Alberta for Saskatchewan, where they won’t have a provincial carbon tax to hate.”

    I wonder if these are the same guys who called Ed Stelmach a “traitor” for daring to suggest the oil guys should pay higher royalties? Good riddance! They’d get along just great with ol’ Brad, and Alberta would be better off without them.

    Reply
    • Sam Gunsch

      June 17th, 2016

      Very well said: I wonder if these are the same guys who called Ed Stelmach a “traitor” for daring to suggest the oil guys should pay higher royalties? Good riddance!

      Reply
  7. Colleen

    June 15th, 2016

    http://www.theenergycollective.com/robertwilson190/344771/can-you-make-wind-turbine-without-fossil-fuels#.Vw-sgGcqPAI.facebook http://business.financialpost.com/fp-comment/canada-may-already-be-carbon-neutral-so-why-are-we-keeping-it-a-secret http://www.examiner.com/article/public-turning-against-climate-alarmists-as-more-evidence-of-fraud-emerges http://www.examiner.com/article/update-top-15-facts-that-humiliate-and-discredit-climate-alarmists http://www.examiner.com/article/african-deserts-getting-greener-anarctic-sea-ice-growing-zero-global-warming https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7P5RW0Tmp-U http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/energy/windpower/10971762/Wind-turbine-fires-ten-times-more-common-than-thought-experts-warn.html http://www.breitbart.com/london/2016/04/28/icegate-now-nsidc-caught-tampering-with-climate-records/ http://www.petitionproject.org/
    http://www.windvictimsontario.com/
    http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/11/02/nasa-shock-study-antarctica-growing-not-shrinking/ http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/10/31/ooops-new-nasa-study-antarctica-isnt-losing-ice-mass-after-all/ http://www.breitbart.com/london/2016/03/30/green-europe-is-killing-40000-poor-people-a-year/ http://stopthesethings.com/2016/03/20/51-ontario-towns-municipalities-call-for-wind-power-subsidies-to-end/ http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/10/13/top-physicist-freeman-dyson-obama-picked-wrong-side-climate-change/ Wind farms and solar plants require gas plant back up. There is no savings in carbon emissions, but rather an increase. It takes fossil fuels to build a turbine and transport it. It will never reduce the amount of carbon emitted during its lifetime. Since the wind and sun are not always optimum they need the gas plant back up, these plants cant be turned off and on, so they run continuously like now. So there is no savings in emissions. Solar and Wind only produce a fraction of the energy needed. I am all for alternative energy, but if carbon is the problem, then why implement wind and solar alternatives, they actually increase the problem. They destroy ecospheres, cause health hazards, destroy valuable agricultural land and the government cant reduce carbon with taxes, and they dont plan to, they plan to implement more wind farms with some of the funds and send more of the funds to other countries and these countries do not have to reduce fossil fuel use. Please do some research, the carbon tax is a money grab for wealth distribution.

    Reply
    • PJP

      June 15th, 2016

      If even one of your links as a reputable primary (or even merely an objective) source then I would support your plea that people do more research. But….perhaps we can start with looking up “confirmation bias”.

      Meanwhile, the rest of us could consider this Francis Bacon statement, quoted in a peer-reviewed scholarly review published in 1998, Review of General Psychology ( http://www.sakkyndig.com/psykologi/artvit/nickerson1998.pdf ):

      “The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion (either as being the received opinion or as being agreeable to itself) draws all things else to support and agree with it. And though there be a greater number and weight of instances to be found on the other side, yet these it either neglects and despises, or else by some distinction sets aside and rejects; in order that by this great and pernicious predetermination the authority of its former conclusions may remain inviolate.. “

      Reply
    • anon

      June 15th, 2016

      Pretty one sided stuff. I would just point out our real need is liquid fuels, not electricity. Of oil about 40% goes to gasoline, about 30% to diesel and the balance to heavy fuels, lube oil etc.

      Over 80% of the pop lives in cities, so mass transit can effectively lower gasoline demand. Given a small improvement in battery tech and a few million electric communter cars connected to a smart grid, and the requirement for fossil fired electricity will be very close to zero. Electrify the rail system and move more freight to rail and essentially all you will need diesel for is the trival amount used for farming.

      Plastics can be recycled almost forever. So this is all very bad news for people who have made a very good living drilling for oil. But it also stretches out the time we have abundant fossil fuel resources to use (not burn) into the very long future.

      This represents a better use of resources and should be done regardless of climate change. Here is a fun map. Find your farm here:
      http://www.albertaclimaterecords.com/

      Reply
    • Kang the barbarian

      June 15th, 2016

      The carbon cost of building a wind or solar system is amortized over the life of the system. You are mixing up operating and capital costs with your assertion about it being impossible to have sustainable wind/solar without natural gas.

      An integrated wind/hydro/solar grid should need very little fossil back up. (Peak demand moves with the sun)

      We have a sort of grid integration already with BC where off-peak BC hydro comes into Alberta and off-peak Alberta sourced electricity pumps water back up into BC hydro dams – enriching the middlemen all day, every day thanks to DeKlein. If we connected with Mb. hydro, pretty much all we would need is wind and solar.

      Add in gas fired turbines and using waste industrial heat and things on the electricity front look pretty good.

      Reply
  8. El Loco Diablo

    June 15th, 2016

    Can anyone here list all of the countries that are reducing the producing and selling of their resources?

    Reply
    • Farmer B

      June 17th, 2016

      Interesting El Loco, after 2 days no response to your question. The answer in no country except maybe Canada eh!

      Reply
      • Rocky

        June 17th, 2016

        More likely, Farmer B, the crazy devil probably just had something better to do. We don’t all wait breathlessly for the latest dispatch from Olympus Farm. Asbestos is probably an example – only Canada and Quebec still try to push the stuff on (unsuspecting?) foreigners. Even the Russians have given up mining it. But then, human greed being what it is, the market usually dies before the marketers give up. This is what is going to happen to petroleum too, and what was unthinkable only a year or two ago is becoming more thinkable every day.

        Reply
    • David

      June 17th, 2016

      Seeing as you asked, actually, production of resources – especially oil, has been reduced by many countries numerous times in recent years for various reasons.

      The list of countries is fairly lengthy, but would include Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran and Libya in the past and more recently Nigeria and Venezuela. I don’t think that list is exhaustive, but that is all I can think of off the top of my head.

      Of course, there are actually no plans to reduce the production of oil in Alberta in the next few years, so I am not even sure why this question arises. Oilsands production in Alberta will likely to continue to grow in the near to medium term.

      Reply
  9. dude

    June 16th, 2016

    Columbia and cocaine and BC and BC bud

    Reply

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