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Joel Gehman (Independent Author); Jacob Goerz (Independent Author)
Published in:
19 pages
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Over the last decade, development of Alberta's oil sands expanded. The royalty revenue from bitumen provides a significant portion of the province's income. Covering a land area that is roughly the same size as the state of North Carolina, 20% o the bitumen deposits by volume lie at depths that allow for surface mining. When mined, there is a massive shift in the local wetland ecology. Since wetlands (especially peatlands) are impossible to fully restore to their pre-disturbed state, current legislation requires oil sands operators to reclaim the land to an 'equivalent capability.' Through policy, the government has attempted to balance economic needs with environmental stewardship. However, conflicting stakeholder interests and long project lifecycles that extend beyond traditional business and government cycles make policy development difficult. Alberta requires a security deposit for all disturbed land in case oil sands operators are unable to address their environmental liabilities. Concerns have been raised that current land reclamation policies and the security deposit backstop are insufficient; yet, strengthening such policies might render oil sands projects financially infeasible.
Learning objectives:
1. The case is targeted to MBA and graduate students. The purpose of the case is to generate discussion around multi-stakeholder policy making and its relationship to the wicked problem associated with land reclamation liabilities in the oil sands. The case.
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