‘We don’t need saving by you, by the way. We want you to leave us alone so that we have a level playing field.’
Attention: Elizabeth May, Member of Parliament
Dear Ms. May,
I debated writing to you, but I cannot sit back and allow your hateful speech towards the oil and gas sector and its workers go unchallenged. I assumed by now you would be humbled by the insensitivity of your gaffe and that you would quietly shirk into a corner or would sheepishly apologize to the thousands upon thousands of people you have deeply offended. However, I see you’ve doubled down in your article in the National Post.
Saying “Oil is dead.” is not only disrespectful, it’s dishonest. There will be a demand for oil for decades to come, credible studies show this. Demand may taper off once alternative sources of energy become competitive, both from a price and reliability perspective, but that does not mean its use “dies” imminently. Look at coal. Even though consumption has steadily decreased, it’s still an integral part of the world energy mix. It has not “died”.
The lockdowns resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic have created an unprecedented drop in fossil fuel demand that is likely to continue for the remainder of 2020. However, the US Energy Information Agency data released on May 12, 2020, predicts oil demand will recover to pre-COVID levels in 2021. Let’s not disregard the significance of the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) comment about why there hasn’t been a decrease in the consumption of renewable energy sources: “Renewables were the only source that posted a growth in demand, driven by larger installed capacity and prioritydispatch.” [Emphasis added].
You appear to have taken an absolutist, short-sighted view of the consumption data, and that won’t help create quality, long-term energy policy in Canada.
You’ve also taken a myopic view of the Canadian oil and gas industry. What you ignore is that the sector is not only oil sands owned by large multinationals. It’s made up of various types of product — crude oil, liquids, and natural gas — produced and serviced by companies of various size, from one person to several thousand. That you focus solely on the oil sands and consider it the “oil and gas industry” suggests your knowledge of the subject matter you speak so authoritatively about is rather weak. This is unfortunate because people in the climate movement, including the media, believe without question the things you say.
The Oxford Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment Working Paper that has influenced your opinions may have included a large cross-section of esteemed interviewees, but it did not even consider direct stimulus support for fossil fuels. As a result, it’s hard to compare the impact from those dollars against the twenty five other “fiscal recovery archetypes” presented. Using this incomplete data could have serious negative ramifications on energy and economic policy.
Ms. May, your denigration of Alberta and the oil and gas industry is a personal attack against the very people you pretend to care about – oil and gas workers. We don’t need saving by you, by the way. We want you to leave us alone so that we have a level playing field, not one riddled with regulatory bullet holes and virtuous carnage. Let us do what we do best – innovate and problem-solve – and we’ll figure out the economics.
As someone who believes strongly in environmental protection and a diversified energy mix, your ill-informed, misguided comments cut me deep. When politicians don’t strive for honest debate and conversation, but rather for soundbites that get air time, we lose the opportunity to implement sane, well-constructed public policy.
Ms. May, you owe Albertans and the oil and gas industry an apology.
If you agree with this open letter, click the EMAIL Icon below and send this to Elizabetrh May at Elizabeth.May@parl.gc.ca
with the words “I agree” or use the email to send your own note to Elizabeth May.