Opinion Letters

Re: “Province launches tax rebate program for delinquent wells”

It is interesting to read that Minister McCuaig-Boyd finally met with the Camrose County Council to discuss the problem of 129 delinquent oil companies not paying their ($664,778.15) taxes in Nov. 23’s story in the Camrose Canadian, “Province launches tax rebate program for delinquent wells.” Her staunch announcement that, “We are not going to put a Band-aid on it,” belies her solution. 

How can Minister McCuaig-Boyd use Alberta School Fund Foundation dollars to bail-out Big Oil? These dollars are intended to, “provide stability for education funding.” Those School Foundation dollars, according to Alberta Government documents are to be “distributed to public and separate school boards on an equal per-student basis” ... to help pay for basic instruction costs including teacher salaries, textbooks, and other classroom resources.” 

This current misuse of tax dollars smacks of the same $235 million big oil handouts Premier Notley doled-out (May 2017) as a “loan” to big oil to “clean-up” the roughly 2,000 orphan well sites left by companies that have gone bankrupt. (What about the “much larger problem” of additional “inactive and abandoned” wells?) 

The province has continually lowered the royalties, given drilling incentives/subsidies, etc., to such a level that the revenue from the oil industry does not cover the cost of infrastructure and services required by the oil industry and the people employed by this industry. Alberta’s oil industry model is an uneconomic venture. It must be remodelled. No more tax-payers dollars, subsidies, or reductions in royalties should be given to the oil industry. 

In addition to the delinquent county taxes, many farmers/ranchers have not received their (oil) lease payments either. Many leases, when deemed “cleaned-up” are not restored sufficiently to be farmed/ranched. The additional restoration costs are borne by the landowner, while the Alberta Energy Regulator hands out reclamation certificates without even consulting the landowner when the sites are still a mess. 

So, be it McCuaig’s use of Alberta School Fund Foundation dollars to pay big oil’s unpaid taxes, or Notley offering to clean-up the “orphan/abandoned” well-sites, both are an abuse of Albertan tax dollars. 

T.W. Leithead 


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