Koch-Oil, Part 3: The unspeakable contradiction: Jobs, environment and prosperity lost

Written by John McMurtry on June 24, 2019

A caribou walks alongside the Trans-Alaska pipeline. Photo by Stan Shebs, Wikimedia Commons.

No one yet recognizes the Koch-led US Big Oil plan to extract Saudi-like treasure from Canada’s boreal forests and to transport its toxic crude through and out of Canada with ever-rising environmental damages at all levels is actually throwing away all the Alberta “jobs,” “investment,” “tax revenues” and “prosperity” which it promises to deliver. All of these economic benefits would actually materialize and multiply many times if the tar-sands were processed and refined for Canadian, US and global sale inside Alberta.

Most ironic of all, the biggest immediate danger of Alberta tar-sand crude is that is irreversibly toxic because it is not processed first before transportation over land, aquifers, shorelands, and inland ocean channels. This is what the BC resistance on the ground is most motivated by – the irreversibly disastrous consequences when this unprocessed toxic crude spills anywhere along the rocky, ocean-tempest way. The spills are an historically demonstrated certitude, but like climate destabilization itself are denied by the Big-Oil beneficiaries in future tens of billions in private profit.

As always in the ruling narrative, there is ‘no alternative.’ ‘It must be done now to create jobs and get product to market.’ Astonishingly, no-one in government or the mass media observes the fact that many more well-paying permanent jobs, far more oil revenues, and infinitely more safety from tar-oil spills and dirty-oil carbon effluents are assured by processing the raw bitumen in Alberta itself.

On closer examination not yet considered, the political stampede for the trans-mountain pipeline of toxic Alberta crude through  the BC mountains and coastal waterways is based on a very big lie. If Alberta and Canada’s government, globally competitive Canada oil firms and working people really want to “create jobs,” “get product to market,” “achieve environmental  security,” “provide needed investment and revenues for the Canadian people,” and “reduce climate-destabilizing gases” the option is economically self-evident.

Process the tar-sand product in Canada and Alberta where the uncleanable toxins can be stripped out first by rigorous regulation and safely precautions before flooded through huge breakable pipes across mountains, aquifers, forests, and ocean coasts and the world-renowned lands and waters of a 5000-year-old ecological wonder larger and more unspoiled than any in the world.

Yet just as climate science does not matter to rogue Big Oil, so too the prevention of toxic Alberta crude running through Canada by processing it in Canada first is erased from discussion. No public voice even mentions the environmental risks of pipelining the toxic crude through the mountains and coats of BC when it could be cleaned up in Alberta first. None yet flags all the lost Canadian fortune and economic development going down the drain by raw-crude pipelines straight to the control, refineries and global sale of foreign Big-Oil multi-billionnaires like the Koch brothers. As for the foreign interference in Canada’s elections manipulating every step, no-one reports this either.

For what? The driver is not “jobs and prosperity,” “creating and sharing wealth,” and “making the indigenous people independent” (what a Canada Senator incredibly just wrote to me). The truth is the opposite on every count. Tens of thousands of high-paying jobs, escalated tax revenues, immense new domestic profits and investment opportunities are now all wasted for Canada by letting four times more of the value-added go south to US Big Oil management, refineries and high-grade global sales.

The real driver here is dispossession of Canada’s workers, First Peoples, taxpayers and the common wealth by ever more multi-billion private profits extracted from its public lands at the lowest oil-royalties in the world to further enrich the already obscenely rich who are mostly not taxpayers and are, in effect, lead destroyers of the life support capacities of the planet.

Read: Koch-Oil, Part 2: Canada’s love-in with US Big Oil

This article was originally published by CounterPunch. NB Media Co-op is publishing it with permission of the author, in three parts. John McMurtry is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. His most recent book is The Cancer Stage of Capitalism: from Crisis to Cure.

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