Sketchy economics from oil and gas boosters

Costs matter, especially in economics.

Costs matter, especially in economics.

I have heard the pitch for developing Yukon’s oil and gas sector, from the Yukon Party government, from the Opportunities North conference, and more recently in this very paper, from Keith Halliday.

It’s wrapped up as an economics argument, but cost analysis is mostly absent.

Oil and gas subsidization (for Halliday, that’s economic jargon for when the government uses the public purse to give a financial benefit to a specific industry) is huge in Canada at roughly $3 billion a year. Whether the financial benefit is a direct cash handout, or an indirect tax break, the effect is public money for industry. That $3 billion could pay for a lot of other things besides fossil fuels.

Even the World Trade Organization thinks the oil and gas sector is over-subsidized. The Trudeau government made a platform promise to phase out subsidies for the fossil fuel industry. But in its latest budget, the government locked in some fossil fuel subsidies for another 10 years.

To have a fact-based economic discussion about oil and gas, we need realistic estimates of costs, including what should be subsidized by the public purse, and factoring in externalities like the climate and water. With realistic costs, the benefits can be measured more accurately. Further, costs and benefits would allow for an options analysis. With energy, that means comparing fossil fuels with a suite of renewables over a timeline.

Halliday is not contributing to a fully informed discussion about Yukon’s energy future. One-sided pictures have their purposes, such as promoting or lobbying.

But let’s not call that economics. It’s more like a really long-winded bumper sticker.

Tory Russell,

Whitehorse

Just Posted

City of Whitehorse tells taxi passengers who feel unsafe to not travel alone

Suggestion criticized by advocates for placing burden of safety on passengers, not taxi companies

Whitehorse’s new emergency room slated to open in early January

40,000-square-foot building will be more efficient, officials say

Judge finds Whitehorse man not guilty of raping teen in 2015 after second trial

Judge Raymond Wyant found Jackie James Kodwat not guilty of sexual assault.

Whitehorse’s sidewalks are a deathtrap

In the interest of safety and simplicity, the city should just plow the sidewalks

Police, coroner investigating suspicious death in Pelly Crossing

Investigators have ordered an autopsy, which will take place in Vancouver Dec. 18

Two Yukon projects shortlisted for the Arctic Inspiration Prize

Projects from Whitehorse, Carcross up for cash

Lower Post, B.C., man suing Yukon RCMP over assault allegation

Suit alleges man ended up with ‘ended up with bruising on his arms, biceps and chest’

Yukon needs a better plan for long-term care

The government can find solutions if it has the will. Does it have the will?

Hard travel over the Yukon’s winter trails

The overland trip to Dawson City today is a cakewalk compared to a century ago

Globalization infiltrates the Yukon’s recycling bins

You’re going to have to do a better job sorting your junk or else China won’t take it

Driving during the holidays

It’s hectic on the roads at Christmastime

Whitehorse council chambers needs new audio-visual equipment

‘More than 10 people’ watch city’s televised meetings

Most Read