First off, industry experts don't think you can increase production five-fold in the short term. Estimates range from 2.5 to 3 million barrels per day by 2015, so we could triple production in 8 years. I use the more "modest" estimates, lest anyone accuse me of fear mongering. I also use 2015 because it just so happens that the Tories are planning on introducing short-term targets:
Sources said the government will soon announce a short-term target of 2015, by which time companies will be required to reduce the amount of energy they use to produce every barrel of oil or megawatt of electricity.
What a farce! Baird plans to announce "intensity" targets, which will reduce emissions per unit. For arguments sake, let's be optimistic and say the government can reduce emissions by 25%. 100 megatonnes becomes 75, woohoo! Now, factor in the expansion of the oil sands, that 75 megatonnes now becomes 225 megatonnes. In other words, emissions more than double in the eight years. It is so ridiculous, I'm not sure if I laugh or cry?
No one argues that Alberta's economy isn't operating beyond full potential. No one argues that Klein had no plan to deal with the rapid growth and Albertans are having an difficult time dealing with the challenges. Water shortages, labor shortages, housing shortages, infastructure shortages, environmental damage, etc, etc, etc. I'm not an economist, but given the current situation, plus the fact that the tarsands are now a guaranteed revenue stream, is it not time for a plan that ensures solid growth, while addressing the problems. Is it really in Alberta's best interest to have such massive American investment for short-term gain? Is there not a way that tempers development, while still maintaining good growth? Why do we need a five-fold increase? What if development only rose 5-10% a year, is that not enough to keep Alberta humming?
What is in the best long-term interest for Alberta? Are we only interested in quenching the American appetite, so we can claim the "energy superpower" booby prize? Someone needs to be bold, and tie future development to environmental considerations and sustainability. In other words, someone needs to stand up to big oil. The problem, no one every steps up to big oil, hence the futility. Our current "debate" on the environment is a mirage. Who will really tackle the elephant in the room??