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Senator Daniel Lang represents Yukon and serves on the Energy, Environment and National Resources Committee and on the Standing Committee on National Security and Defence.
The National Post’s editorial board recently highlighted the need to explore new avenues for getting Canadian oil to market. I agree. In the Senate, we have been considering a recent report on Canada’s energy sector — Now or Never, Canada Must Act Urgently to Seize its Place in the New Energy World Order. It is important that all Canadians understand how vital our energy reserves are to the economy, and the challenges that lie ahead for us.
The energy sector plays a vital role in keeping Canada strong, free and prosperous. It employs over half-a-million Canadians and contributed a staggering $94-billion to our country’s exports in 2010. It also contributed $35-billion in taxes and royalties in 2008 to various levels of government. With oil production set to double by 2030, these contributions to our tax base and our living standards will prove crucial to all Canadians. I stress all Canadians. Even provinces without abundant oil resources will share in the wealth through transfer payments.
The energy sector is the largest private-sector employer in Canada. Young Canadians need to be introduced to the opportunities in the energy sector as they plan their careers. Moreover, these opportunities must also be accessible to all Canadians, including aboriginal youth, 400,000 of whom will be eligible for the workplace between 2012 and 2020.
But none of this potential prosperity can be taken for granted. Canadians face significant challenges on the road to fully developing these natural resources. First is the prospect of our biggest customer becoming self-sufficient for its petroleum needs. Energy experts believe the United States may soon no longer need to import oil, and could become a major exporter of natural gas.
Second, Canada loses approximately $28-billion a year in revenue from oil sales to the U.S. Because we do not have access to a diverse global market, there is a glut of Canadian oil that can only be sold to the U.S. This drives down the price our oil can get to below the going rate on the world market. Yet building pipelines to ease this bottleneck faces serious regulatory and environmental challenges.
For the rest of this article, please go to the National Post website: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2013/01/07/senator-daniel-lang-the-energy-sector-will-secure-canadas-future/