Costly Fix: Power, Politics, and Nature in the Tar Sands
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.
- World Rights
- Page Count: 368 pages
- Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.0in x 9.0in
"The sweep and density of Ian Urquhart’s analysis will ensure that, for years to come, Costly Fix will be a standard text in the Canadian political economy canon, placing it in the company of such classics as Larry Pratt and John Richards’ Prairie Capitalism (1979)."
The Tyee.ca, January 28, 2019
"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 InformationIan Urquhart is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Alberta.
Table of contents
Tables and Charts
Introduction: A Neo-Liberal Klondike
A Modern Klondike…If Not for the Role of the State
The Path Ahead
1. Market Fundamentalism and the State
Capital's Privilege in Market Societies
Economic Liberalism's Resurrection: Market Fundamentalism
2. State, Capital, and the Foundations of Exploiting the Tar Sands
The Social Credit Years: The Birth of Great Canadian Oil Sands (Suncor)
Confused Seas on the Voyage to Free Trade
3. Building Canada's Oil Factory: Reregulating the Tar Sands
Struggling to Survive?
The Liberal Renaissance
The State Embraces the Sermon: Alberta
The State Embraces the Sermon: Canada
"An Era of Unprecedented Growth"
4. Landscape of Sacrifice: The Environmental Consequences of Reregulating the Tar Sands
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
5. First Nations: Resistance and Compromise
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
6. Prison Break? The Political Economy of Royalty Reform
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?
7. Taking Environmental Issues Abroad: Toxic Tailings, Dead Ducks
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
8. The Tar Sands and the Politics of Climate Change
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
9. An Inconvenient Truth: New Government, Same Approach
Let's Talk Royalties (Again)
Directive 085: Letting the Fox Guard the Henhouse?
Alberta's Climate Leadership Plan
10. Conclusion: Market Fundamentalism in the Tar Sands
Market Fundamentalism and the Character of Exploitation
Market Fundamentalism and Nature
Market Fundamentalism and Countermovements
Appendix 1: Oil Sands Production, 1995–2015, BPD (000s)
PrizesThe Donald Smiley Prize awarded by the Canadian Political Science Association - Short-listed in 2019
Subjects and Courses