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Oil sands: Unbridled growth or measured pace?

Proposed investments in Alberta's oil sands would create one of the world's largest industrial projects, with the resulting impact on the economy and environment. The Harper government is clearing the path for unbridled growth, while NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair has called for a more measured pace. Mr. Mulcair also wants industry to cover the full cost of pollution. emissions. On the eve of Mr. Mulcair's Thursday visit to Suncor Energy Corp.'s operations in Fort McMurray, two reports give sharply contrasting views of the cost/benefit equation for oil sands expansion. Energy reporter Shawn McCarthy sums up their arguments

00:00 EDT Thursday, May 31, 2012

CONS

PEMBINA INSTITUTE

Booming oil exports have driven up the value of the Canadian dollar, making it harder for the manufacturing sector to compete in foreign markets.

About 94 per cent of the anticipated economic benefits will occur in Alberta, making the expansion hardly a "nation-building" exercise and exacerbating regional tensions.

Development of the oil sands will make it virtually impossible for Canada to meet its international climate-change commitments.

PROS

MACDONALD-LAURIER INSTITUTE

The oil sands industry will become a major customer for Canadian goods and services from across the country, replacing export markets that might be lost due to a higher dollar.

Tax revenue from the oil and gas industry benefits governments across the country. The industry is expected to generate more than $400-billion in federal income tax over the next 25 years.

Overall economic gains in Canada from oil industry expansion outweigh any negative impact from a higher currency, which also has benefits such as lower inflation and greater purchasing power in foreign markets.

*****

Estimates of regional impacts from Alberta oil sands development, 2010-2035

Assuming Keystone XL and Northern Gateway pipelines come on stream in 2013 and 2016 respectively

Alberta

GDP ($ million): $3,142,308

Employment (thousand person-years): 15,222

Ontario

GDP ($ million): $95,274

Employment (thousand person-years): 1,296

B.C.

GDP ($ million): $42,446

Employment (thousand person-years): 628

Quebec

GDP ($ million): $20,721

Employment (thousand person-years): 311

Saskatchewan

GDP ($ million): $6,802

Employment (thousand person-years): 82

Manitoba

GDP ($ million): $6,425

Employment (thousand person-years): 100

Nova Scotia

GDP ($ million): $1,267

Employment (thousand person-years): 18

New Brunswick

GDP ($ million): $1,241

Employment (thousand person-years): 18

Newfoundland and Labrador

GDP ($ million): $545

Employment (thousand person-years): 5

Northwest Territories

GDP ($ million): $223

Employment (thousand person-years): 3

Prince Edward Island

GDP ($ million): $95

Employment (thousand person-years): 2

Yukon

GDP ($ million): $59

Employment (thousand person-years): 1

Nunavut

GDP ($ million): $44

Employment (thousand person-years): 1

© The Globe and Mail


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