Re: how "dirty" the tar sands are
OOoooh. A hiway that has a nickname with the word death in it! So scary!
Of course, you don't actually talk about why. You just fearmonger. Which seems to be your MO. Let's discuss, shall we? Why is hiway 63 so terrifying?
Well, the answer is actually a pretty simple confluence of three factors. The first is that it is very, very long. So long that people have a natural desire to speed on it. Not regular speeding, but blindingly fast even for Alberta. The QE2 has got nothing on the morons tear-assing on that hiway.
The second is that the hiway has not been twinned. So it's just a couple of lanes with no median that if you want to pass the car in front of you you have to poke out into oncoming traffic, which is typically speeding and all too often using cars that don't meet Alberta safety regulations for having "always on" headlights.
The third item is that there are enormous trucks going up that hiway all the time. They are slow. They are difficult to get around. They are impossible to see around.
When you put the three things together you get some dumb shit poking his car into the oncoming traffic lane to pass an entire row of enormous equipment (that's probably 300m long) who then gets rammed head-on by some jackass doing double the speed limit.
The solution to this is simple: twin the hiway. Something that the government is in the middle of doing right now. So ooga booga hiway boogyman is far less the terrifying pamphlet-monster that will kill all the poor souls working in the oilpatch and far more "a problem everyone is aware of and one that the entire province agrees must be dealt with before we allow production to increase at all." Indeed, at least six separate projects are on hold - construction cannot start - until the hiway is twinned.
As for housing, Fort Mac got dispensation to create two new neighborhoods of dense urban housing and construction has already started.
Regarding manpower, I believe Newfoundland has not yet been completely depopulated, so we're still good. If we need more, we can just get the federal government to raise Alberta's immigration limit and there are an unlimited number of individuals from around the world eager to come work there for the $250K-$400K/year they pay.
I agree with you that the economic hit of oil production tapering off is indeed coming, but A) there's 100 years of oil left there at convention technology levels. B) Alberta is slowly diversifying it's economy because of the cash from the oil sands; we will be better positioned to deal with it as these other economic elements grow and replace the requirement for petroleum as a key sector.
I'm no fan or friend of the tar sands at all. I think they are disgusting and wastefull and we need to be moving away from them sooner rather than later. The issue I have with your pointless blitherings is that they have no connection to reality whatsoever.
Your arguments are straight out of Mike Hudema's ridiculous pamphlets and at the core of it boil down to "I do not believe that any amount of regulation can possibly make any form of mining activity - but especially tar sands mining - ecologically friendly for the simple reason that I believe companies will renege on their duties to rehabilitate mine sites and that governments will let them get away with it."
Of course, Hudema gets very angry when you present a list of mining and forestry companies that have done superb jobs of rehabilitating their mine sites and of massive government fines levied against those who don't...where the fines are calculated to be the cost required to rehabilitate the site properly.
Alberta has made mistakes, sure. We've let companies get away with some really bad stuff, damn right. But we're not British Columbia. We don't make a law that says "reforest of be fined" and then fine the company $5000 for not reforesting 1000sq km that they cut down for timber.
You also completely gloss over the political and economic realities facing the province - another Mike Hudema trait - in that for all the ills of the current regime the alternative is far, far worse. Bitch all you want about how evil the tar sands are, but you only alternative to the Tories in this province is the Wild Rose, and they so batshit insane the Tea Party denounced them. If you think for a second that they will do a better job of holding Shell's feet to the fire you're loony.
A nuke plant at Athabasca is the only realistic hope to mitigate the damage of the tar sands. Your fairy-tale Hudema-esque "just stop doing it right now" is not going to happen.
So quit pissing away your efforts on unicorn-chasing and start agitating for real-world solutions that will show tangible benefits for the people alive today and the children of tomorrow. Or, hey, bitch more on the internet. You'll convince all the powers that be to change everything that way, I'm sure.