Costly Fix: Power, Politics, and Nature in the Tar Sands

By Ian Urquhart

© 2018

Costly Fix examines the post-1995 Alberta tar sands boom, detailing how the state inflated the profitability of the tar sands and turned a blind eye to environmental issues. It considers the position of First Nations, the character and strength of environmental critiques, and the difficulties that environmental groups and First Nations have had in establishing a countermovement to market fundamentalism. The final chapter discusses how Alberta's new NDP government, in its first couple of years, has addressed the legacies they have inherited from the previous Progressive Conservative government on climate change, royalties, and the blight of tailings ponds in the boreal forest. Throughout the book, Urquhart demonstrates that too many actors have done too little to prevent Alberta's boreal forest from becoming a landscape sacrificed for unsustainable economic growth.

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Product Details

  • Division: Higher Education
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 384 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.0in x 9.5in
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SKU# HE000773

  • PUBLISHED JAN 2018
    From: $39.95
    ISBN 9781487594619
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    ISBN 9781487594626
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Quick Overview

Costly Fix examines the post-1995 Alberta tar sands boom, detailing how the state inflated the profitability of the tar sands and turned a blind eye to environmental issues.

Costly Fix: Power, Politics, and Nature in the Tar Sands

By Ian Urquhart

© 2018

Costly Fix examines the post-1995 Alberta tar sands boom, detailing how the state inflated the profitability of the tar sands and turned a blind eye to environmental issues. It considers the position of First Nations, the character and strength of environmental critiques, and the difficulties that environmental groups and First Nations have had in establishing a countermovement to market fundamentalism. The final chapter discusses how Alberta's new NDP government, in its first couple of years, has addressed the legacies they have inherited from the previous Progressive Conservative government on climate change, royalties, and the blight of tailings ponds in the boreal forest. Throughout the book, Urquhart demonstrates that too many actors have done too little to prevent Alberta's boreal forest from becoming a landscape sacrificed for unsustainable economic growth.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Division: Higher Education
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 384 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.0in x 9.5in
  • Reviews

    "Costly Fix provides a rich and provocative historical analysis of the development the Alberta tar sands. Urquhart demonstrates that the boom in Canadian bitumen production is not merely a result of economic forces, but an outcome of concerted and sustained state support through advantageous royalty, tax, and regulatory regimes. The environmental consequences of these actions will be felt for decades to come."
    Kathryn Harrison, Professor of Political Science, University of British Columbia

    "In Costly Fix, Ian Urquhart examines the two-decade history of Canadian politicians facilitating the economically irrational and environmentally destructive resource boom that transformed Alberta's tar sands into petroleum exports for the US market. Anyone who cares about the planet's future has much to learn from Urquhart's richly documented analysis of the duplicity of political leaders who pretend to protect the environment."
    Fred Block, Research Professor of Sociology, University of California, Davis
  • Author Information

    Ian Urquhart is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Alberta.
  • Table of contents

    Acknowledgements
    Tables and Charts
    Acronyms

    Introduction: A Neo-Liberal Klondike
    The Boom
    A Modern Klondike…If Not for the Role of the State
    The Path Ahead

    1. Market Fundamentalism and the State
    Introduction
    Capital's Privilege in Market Societies
    Economic Liberalism's Resurrection: Market Fundamentalism
    Conclusion

    2. State, Capital, and the Foundations of Exploiting the Tar Sands
    Introduction
    Alberta's Bitumen
    Early History
    The Social Credit Years: The Birth of Great Canadian Oil Sands (Suncor)
    Syncrude
    Confused Seas on the Voyage to Free Trade
    Conclusion

    3. Building Canada's Oil Factory: Reregulating the Tar Sands
    Introduction
    Struggling to Survive?
    The Liberal Renaissance
    The Missionary
    The State Embraces the Sermon: Alberta
    The State Embraces the Sermon: Canada
    "An Era of Unprecedented Growth"
    Conclusion

    4. Landscape of Sacrifice: The Environmental Consequences of Reregulating the Tar Sands
    Introduction
    State Institutions: No Friends to Environmental Concerns
    Integrated Resource Planning in Name Only: Sacrificing a Potential World Heritage Site
    The Cumulative Environmental Management Association: Too Little, Too Late
    The Pembina Institute and the Limits of the Reformist Critique
    Conclusion

    5. First Nations: Resistance and Compromise
    Introduction
    First Nations' Concerns and Objections: Developing a Scientific Critique
    First Nations' Concerns and Objections: The Constitutional Critique
    Compromise: The Other Face of the First Nations' Relationship to the Tar Sands
    First Nations: Partners in Exploiting the Tar Sands
    Building First Nations' Organizational Capacity...with Strings Attached
    Conclusion

    6. Prison Break? The Political Economy of Royalty Reform
    Introduction
    The Politics of Leadership Succession and Petroleum Royalties
    Establishing the Public's "Fair Share": The Alberta Royalty Review Panel
    Industry Strikes Back
    Alberta's 2007 Oil Sands Royalty Changes: Draconian or Reaffirming?
    Conclusion

    7. Taking Environmental Issues Abroad: Toxic Tailings, Dead Ducks
    Introduction
    Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
    "The Press Is the Enemy"
    Dead Ducks, Tarred Images
    The Bitumen Triangle: Industry, Government, and Universities Unite to Tell a Better Story
    Directive 074 and the Politics of Tailings Ponds Reclamation
    The Institutional Framework
    Conclusion

    8. The Tar Sands and the Politics of Climate Change
    Introduction
    Dirty Oil, Climate Change, and the Transnational Environmental Critique
    Congress, the Bush Administration, and the Security of Tar Sands Access to US Markets
    What to Reduce in Alberta? Emissions and/or Emissions Intensity?
    The Specified Gas Emitters Regulation: Alberta's 12 Percent Solution
    The Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation (CCEMC)
    The Keystone XL Pipeline
    Conclusion

    9. An Inconvenient Truth: New Government, Same Approach
    Introduction
    Let's Talk Royalties (Again)
    Directive 085: Letting the Fox Guard the Henhouse?
    Alberta's Climate Leadership Plan
    Conclusion

    10. Conclusion: Market Fundamentalism in the Tar Sands
    Market Fundamentalism and the Character of Exploitation
    Market Fundamentalism and Nature
    Market Fundamentalism and Countermovements
    The Future

    Appendix 1: Oil Sands Production, 1995–2015, BPD (000s)
    References
    Index