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LETTER: Action to diversify the economy is essential

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The estimated costs to clean up the estimated 91,000 inactive, and 7,300 abandoned oil wells is estimated by OWA (Orphan Oil Well Association) be $40 to $60 billion. Many of the wells are inactive as the operators find them non-profitable. Many of these companies are also not meeting their tax obligations to the counties and municipalities in which they are located. The counties are also facing increased costs offloaded from the provincial government for operation and maintenance of parks and recreation in their areas, increased policing costs, as well as loss of income from oil company failures to meet their tax obligations.

The Premier suggests a $100 million loan to the nonprofit orphan oil well association. Perhaps it should be viewed as another bailout for the oil and gas industry. (A non-profit paying back a loan when its liabilities are $40 to $60 billion?) The Government should legislate action to ensure this obligation is enforced pre-oil company insolvency.

This is the Premier that has spent millions to cut red tape and vows to invest in oil and gas projects. He claims the companies are not investing in oil and gas because of regulatory red tape. Teck Resources and Meg Energy and others, have put their expansion plans on hold as the current world oil price is 60 per cent less than the cost of production. OPEC and partners have cut production by one million barrels per day (bpd) and Saudi Arabia was contemplating another 600,000 bpd cut to maintain the present world oil price.

The inane policy of the UCP to invest in increasing oil production and pipeline capacity will not  improve the financial budget. A bigger truck hauling more lemons will not improve industry profitability. The UCP mandated investment by AIMCO (Alberta Investment Management Company) in oil and gas industries is unconscionable and harkens to the previous government recommendations with the Alberta Heritage Trust Fund. How did that go? Now the UCP suggests "rare earth investment strategy".

The UCP claim they "inherited a spending problem". With the world oil price at $50 they are soon going to experience a "revenue problem". Action to diversify is essential.

The $30 million per year to finance the war room to disprove the "Truth about Alberta Dirty Oil" and $100 million to support the oil industry would be better spent maintaining trades education for Alberta students, or maintaining grants to our counties to maintain vital infrastructure and camping recreation facilities for Alberta citizens.

Our premier "HOLDS THE PEN" and "Absolute power corrupts" is truth.

Howard Schettler, St. Albert