May 14, 2012
By Matt Palmer
It is time to begin, in earnest, a conversation about how to create a comprehensive National Energy Strategy. Just the mention of an NES makes some people excitable, and defensive, because of memories harkening back to the dreaded NEP of the Trudeau era. How do we move forward?
The first step is starting the conversation, something Alberta Premier Alison Redford has done. Whether a NES is a popular idea or not, Canada has a unique opportunity, given our wealth of natural resources, to show leadership to the global community in sustainable resource development, and in energy production, distribution, and consumption.
Success is possible. Innovation is possible. The magic lies in the realm of ideas, based on solid science, environmental stewardship, vision, foresight, receptive dialogue, and systems thinking. Success comes from daring to let go of defining resources as good and bad, and instead weighing opportunities that exist within the shades of grey.
What will a National Energy Strategy will look like? We have the resources to supply most if not all of our own energy needs. The economic opportunities, the global opportunities, to be completely self-sufficient are tremendous, and would make us the envy of the world.
What a Canadian Energy Strategy Might Look Like by Mike Priaro was printed last week online in The Beacon News. You may agree with all or some of Mr Priaro’s ideas or none, but it is a great way to generate conversation and more ideas. The idea of a national pipeline distribution system for bitumen, and oil and gas and related products, that would negate or radically reduce Canada’s need to import from other countries is an attractive idea. The national economic stimulus from the building of energy infrastructure like bitumen upgraders, refineries, and pipelines would be substantial. None of this would be done unless it adheres to the strictest environmental guidelines.
I know many people will argue that investing in new infrastructure to support further use of oil is dinosaur thinking. But is it? It is incumbent upon all of us to have a deeper understanding of how oil and petrochemicals impact our lives. There is an opportunity right now to move beyond rhetoric. It is no more helpful to brand all oil companies as evil, as it is to brand all environmentalists as extremists or terrorists. There are parties on all sides who make questionable decisions, or act in ways that many in society find unethical and distasteful. Accountability in conjunction with substantial consequences is top priority.
We know the problems that using oil creates. We know pipelines can leak. Energy efficiencies in the production, distribution, and consumption chain can and should be higher. Oil companies can and must do better. Environmental stewardship must be the number one priority, and it can be done with a benefit to the long-term financial success of the corporation and society. The good news is there are many companies already doing this work, showing leadership to make the system better.
The prospect of developing a National Energy Strategy is an exciting prospect for all Canadians. We can look at where opportunities exist and where there are serious challenges, and this includes oil sands, natural gas, coal, nuclear, wind, solar, geothermal, and bio-fuels. All have pluses and minuses.
If you have ideas you would like to share on this, I invite you to submit a video or a written response which I will post will full credit on this site. I always welcome guest blog submissions. One of the goals of this project is to inspire open dialogue. Please keep all responses respectful. Challenging ideas is fine, personal attacks or disparaging someone’s intelligence is not. We all come from different levels of understanding. Solutions can come from anywhere.