Report finds Big Oil can afford to clean up its mess but needs arm-twisting to pay up

Date: Monday, July 11, 2023
Complete Article: National Observer


Oil and gas companies can afford the billions it will take to clean up their messes and it’s up to governments to force them to do so, a new analysis has found.

Right now, it would cost an estimated $123 billion to clean up the environmental liabilities created by oil and gas companies in Canada, according to a new analysis by the Parkland Institute

“Oil and gas companies are not voluntarily going to pay their bills; they must be forced to do so by governments and that’s at every level,” said Julia Levin, national climate program manager with Environmental Defence. “In this world of declining demand for Canadian oil and gas … it is incumbent on provincial governments to start collecting the money ahead of time.”

There’s an enormous risk the public will have to bear the cost of these environmental liabilities, which would be unacceptable, said Levin, pointing out that the current $123 billion of liabilities amounts to roughly $3,000 per Canadian.

“We can’t wait for 10 years from now to start charging these companies their cleanup costs because 10 years from now, production will have fallen,” said Levin. “Now is when these companies are still making massive, massive, massive profits. And they must be forced to use the profits, to use the revenues, to clean up their mess now.”

Canadian law states polluters must bear the cost of cleaning up their mess, but time and again, the cost of cleaning up abandoned oil wells has fallen on the public purse.

“Any public funding for covering the cost of cleanup is an incredibly inefficient fossil fuel subsidy given that oil and gas companies can absolutely cover these costs by themselves,” said Levin.

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