Oil’s Deep State

How the Petroleum Industry Undermines Democracy and Stops Action on Global Warming – in Alberta and in Ottawa

That’s the title and subtitle, and twitter-length summary, of a recent book by Kevin Taft, who was a member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta with the Alberta Liberal Party, and Leader of the  Opposition.  He had access to the inner workings of the petroleum industry on the democratic state, provincial and national, which is, in brief, as he demonstrates, not for the common good.

The deep state is not the same thing as the petro-state, which describes a country or region which has become dependent economically on petroleum, particularly for export. Canada and Alberta clearly meet that description.

The deep state is a deeper matter where the oil industry is in charge, behind the scenes, pervasively, and covertly. It has captured the state, seized power.  There are elections. Governments can be changed. There is the illusion of democracy but not the reality.

This Taft documents, chapter and verse. The most telling evidence is the way individuals move back and forth from the industry to the state in Alberta.

We all know why this matters. It’s the warming of the planet in the midst of extreme climate change.  We know this is happening. Now we know why too little is being done about it.

Consider Alberta. It’s been a one-party state most of the time but, incredibly, it elected a NDP government in 2015. And, though the NDP is thought to be more progressive than the others, nothing really changed. Premier Rachel Notley simply says and does the things the oil industry says and does. She persists in doing that as the evidence of planetary warming, perhaps to the point of no return, mounts. The deep state is unarguably the fact in Alberta.

Taft himself sees Canada as also at the mercy of oil’s deep state though to a lesser degree than Alberta. Canada ruled by Stephen Harper  from a Calgary riding qualified. But he is replaced by Justin Trudeau and, incredibly, it hardly seems to matter, with Trudeau actually laying out 4.5 billion dollars for Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline, Kinder Morgan having lost enthusiasm for the project.

The moral of this dreary story? We need to dig our heels in deeply and do all we can to get us out of the deadly petroleum trap. We owe this to ourselves, to our children and grandchildren, indeed, to everyone on this planet.

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