Elizabeth May: Break up letter to bitumen

Dear Bitumen,

I must be blunt – I don’t know what we ever saw in you. You seemed popular, as though all of the countries wanted to be with you. We thought maybe your exports could support us financially. We wanted to believe that a future with you would be prosperous.

Oh Bitumen, how very wrong we were. Our dreams of a happy future have been dashed by an ugly, sticky, polluted reality. Just getting you to open up has required so much energy – you’re one of the most carbon intensive resources I’ve ever met! You are so high-maintenance. And for what? All those “benefits” you promised turned out to be a lie. Just to get you to market, we had to mix you with toxic diluent. Even after all that work, you had a corrosive effect on everything around you. You always mired us in expensive messes that were impossible to clean up. You are just too unpredictable – leaking and spilling, sinking and floating at the same time, destroying entire ecosystems. You’ve been an ecological disaster!

Now, you’ve come crawling back with another round of promises. You say if we would only ship you through the proposed Northern Gateway, Kinder Morgan, or Energy East pipelines that you’ll do better. You won’t hurt our environment like you have in the past, you say. The tankers carrying you won’t destroy our fragile Pacific Coast. You’ll create real long-term employment and economic growth, you promise!

But Bitumen, you can’t fool us again. The jobs you would bring are few, and short-term. You would crush our innovation and turn us into a resource colony. And you’ll destroy our lands and waters.

I have to be honest with you – we’ve met someone else. Clean Technology will support us in a way you never could. Even with just one per cent of the $1 trillion global market, Clean Technology has created over 52,600 Canadian jobs in 700 companies. He’s not stuck in the past, or in a pipeline – he’s growing. Clean Technology was worth $10 billion to Canada in 2013, and is projected to be worth $60 billion in 2020 – a six-fold increase in just seven years.

With the right support and investment, Clean Technology will provide for our energy needs, protect our environment, and generate real economic growth like you never could. The truth is, Bitumen, you were always too unrefined and expensive. We’ve got better options now.


Elizabeth May