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2011 Election, Environment

Defending the Oilsands

Image courtesy of the New York Times

In the June 2010 season finale of Bill Maher’s 2009-2010 season of Real Time, Maher noted with regards to oil development in the Gulf of Mexico that:

I may have hurt a few feelings when my response to the complaint that jobs will be lost in the offshore drilling business was, “Fuck your jobs!” But I meant it, and it goes double for burning coal and chopping down redwoods. Sorry, roughnecks, but eventually you’re gonna have to find something else to do.  Try building windmills.  You know what happens when windmills collapse into the sea?  A splash.

And in that same spirit of not feeling like apologizing for lost jobs as a result of my desire to see the Oilsands permanently closed, there is this headline today from the Calgary Herald:

“Oilsands in Crosshairs: Layton wants to nix subsidies; Ignatieff calls for regulations.”

Nixing subsidies to a multi-billion dollar industry to increase competitiveness and accountability and suggesting regulations to ensure ‘smart growth.’ You would think from the Herald employing the crosshairs visual that Layton and Ignatieff had pulled a Bill Maher and said “Fuck your jobs!” to the Oilsands workers, rather than the meek suggestions of subsidies being nixed to increase efficiency and environmental awareness and regulations to promote…less dirty oil?

Layton watered his criticism down even further by saying not that the project ought to be reevaluated or canceled or scaled back, but that the NDP “just don’t think the projects need the taxpayers’ help.”

True, but what it misses is the point: that we now talk about job loss and subsidies and regulations when the bigger picture, the promotion of unethical and dirty oil, goes assumed as a given. And when we no longer talk about options and alternatives in a serious manner, but about the best way to regulate and reduce the costs of environmental degradation, we can only be reminded of what a long way we have to go.

About awreeves

Editor-in-chief at Alternatives Journal. Author of 'Overrun: Dispatches from the Asian carp Crisis'.


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