We know that the oil industry has been pushing for a massive bail out (the latest estimate was $30 Billion) and secretly lobbying for deregulation and dismantling of climate policy under cover of the COVID-19 crisis.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that only a fraction of those oil dreams would come true. And funding announced is for pollution reduction, not deregulation.
The Prime Minister announced $1.7 Billion to begin dealing with the cleanup of orphaned wells, an initiative you helped push for: thank you! These wells leak methane and pollute land and water, creating environmental and health risks for landowners and nearby communities. The estimated cost of cleaning up wells in Alberta alone is between $40-70 Billion, so this is just the beginning of what will be needed to deal with this problem, but it's a start.
We will also need to watch closely to ensure this funding is administered by an arms-length body that incorporates the voices of local communities and indigenous people. The funding must also be contingent on new legislation requiring existing oil companies to clean up their mess, and not leave it for the rest of us to clean up.
Also announced was a subsidy to the oil and gas industry to the tune of $750 million for an emissions reduction fund, $75 million of which is intended for Newfoundland and Labrador offshore oil and gas industry. Although these funds are meant to be paid back, it still means we are using much-needed resources to help the fossil fuel industry with their pollution problems. Also announced are loans to the energy sector - including the fossil fuel sector - to help them through the economic downturn.
It is unfortunate that we are having to pay collectively for the oil and gas industry's pollution problems. Clearly, there is still work to be done.
But for now: thank you for raising your voice to push back and speak up for what we want now and coming out of the current crisis - a cleaner and fairer Canada.
On that note, please check out recommendations we have made as part of the Green Budget Coalition on how this moment of crisis must be used to address our underlying climate emergency and spiralling biodiversity loss.
All the best and have a good weekend,
Gretchen Fitzgerald - National Programs Director
P.S.: The oil industry is going to keep pushing, so we have to be vigilant. Please stay in touch and keep up the pressure.