Costly Fix: Power, Politics, and Nature in the Tar Sands

Costly Fix Power, Politics, and Nature in the Tar Sands
By: Ian Urquhart
364 pages • ISBN 978-1487594619

Costly Fix examines the post -1995 Alberta tar sands boom, detailing how the state inflated the profitability of the tar sands and turned a blind eye to environmental issues. It considers the position of First Nations, the character and strength of environmental critiques, and the difficulties that environmental groups and First Nations have had in establishing a counter movement to market fundamentalism. The final chapter discusses how Alberta's new NDP government, in its first couple of years, has addressed the legacies they have inherited from the previous Progressive Conservative government on climate change, royalties, and the blight of tailings ponds in the boreal forest. Throughout the book, Urquhart demonstrates that too many actors have done too little to prevent Alberta's boreal forest from becoming a landscape sacrificed for unsustainable economic growth.

"Costly Fix provides a rich and provocative historical analysis of the development the Alberta tar sands. Urquhart demonstrates that the boom in Canadian bitumen production is not merely a result of economic forces, but an outcome of concerted and sustained state support through advantageous royalty, tax, and regulatory regimes. The environmental consequences of these actions will be felt for decades to come." – Kathryn Harrison, Professor of Political Science, University of British Columbia.

"In Costly Fix, Ian Urquhart examines the two-decade history of Canadian politicians facilitating the economically irrational and environmentally destructive resource boom that transformed Alberta's tar sands into petroleum exports for the US market. Anyone who cares about the planet's future has much to learn from Urquhart's richly documented analysis of the duplicity of political leaders who pretend to protect the environment." – Fred Block, Research Professor of Sociology, University of California, Davis.