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Oil is Bankrupt (If We Want It)

This figure shows how Alberta’s let-the-future-pay-for-cleanup funding model is playing out. The red curve shows the growth of cleanup liabilities, which accumulate as new wells are drilled and not cleaned up. The blue curve shows the assets that will pay for this cleanup — the industry’s future income (assuming various prices of oil and gas).

Albert’s oil-patch is a zombie, the walking dead. The companies that extract oil there owe more money than they can pay, more than they can borrow, more than they can earn. If they were made to pay their lawful debts, they would all go bankrupt, and, in so doing, would end the extraction of one of the dirtiest, worst sources of oil in the world.

Now, there’s an argument that all the oil companies are busted, Alberta or no. If they were made to pay for the damage they’ve done to our world, the millions their deadly products have killed and the billions they threaten, they would all be cleaned out.

But that argument depends on making those companies pay for those debts, which are not legal debts, but moral ones. Big Oil has proven itself remarkably adept at avoiding those moral debts . The costs that Big Oil imposed on all of us are diffused, the profits they gained through their crimes are concentrated into their hands, so it’s very hard to hold them to account.

The economics researcher Blair Fix has written a long companion piece to The Big Cleanup, a report by his collaborator Regan Boychuk for the Alberta Liabilities Disclosure Project (ALDP).

In his essay, Fix examines the power relationships that have allowed the oil companies to go on risking our civilization and our species with impunity. He observes that many environmentalists claim that if the true costs of the oil industry were borne by the extraction companies, they’d all be bankrupt already.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

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