Since 2009, Canada has invested more than $200 billion into extracting oil from the Alberta tar sands. Earlier this month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that his country had agreed to purchase the Trans Mountain pipeline from Kinder Morgan for $4.5 billion. It will cost Canadian taxpayers at least that much or more to complete it, if it ever gets completed at all. Bill Morneau, Canada’s finance minister, said after the purchase announcement, “Make no mistake. This is an investment in Canada’s future.”
Actually, buying a pipeline to transport some of the dirtiest oil obtainable anywhere on Earth is the mistake. A report in The Guardian suggests that if Canada had invested in clean renewable resources such as wind power back in 2009 instead of petroleum, it would now be miles ahead.
For its $200 billion investment, Canada in 2017 derived 912 million barrels of motor fuels, enough to power 73 million vehicles for 16,000 kilometers each — the average distance traveled each year for Canadian vehicles.
Had that same $ 200 billion been invested in wind turbines instead, they would have generated 111,000 MW of electricity — enough to power 122 million electric vehicles the same 16,000 kilometers.
Score: Wind 1, Canada 0
All those cars fueled by oil from the Alberta tar sands would be responsible for 325 million tons of carbon emissions. The electric vehicle fleet? Zero tailpipe emissions.
Score: Wind 2, Canada 0
Getting the tar sands oil out of the ground and converting it to fuels creates an additional 66 million tons of carbon emissions. Wind turbines create no carbon emissions once they are constructed and begin operating.
Score: Wind 3, Canada 0
Oil from the Alberta tar sands costs about $40 per barrel to produce or about $ 36.5 billion a year. The cost of generating 111,000 MW of electricity from wind farms is about $ 7.1 billion.
Score: Wind 4, Canada 0
Based on fuel prices in Fort McMurray as of May 27, 2018, it would cost Canadian drivers $2,688 a year to drive 16,000 kilometers a year, assuming their vehicle uses 12 liters of fuel to drive 100 kilometers. Driving an electric car like the Chevy Bolt the same distance would cost $190, assuming electricity costs 6.8 cents per kWh, the present average cost in Alberta.
Score: Wind 5, Canada 0
Alberta And Canada Get Short Changed
Total up the scores, and drivers in Alberta and all citizens of Canada have been shortchanged, not enriched, by their government’s investment in the Alberta tar sands. The action makes no economic sense at all, although it has attracted support from voters in Alberta who believe their financial well being is tied to fossil fuels. The citizens of Canada should demand a refund from their government for poor fiscal management of precious taxpayer funds.