Published or Forthcoming
"Making Energy Policy: The Canadian Experience." forthcoming. Invited chapter in Meeting the Paris Mandate: A Cross-national Comparison of Energy Policy-making, Patrice Geoffron, Lorna A. Greening, and Raphael Heffron, Editors. (In press.)
Describes the evolution of Canadian energy policy and the main factors contributing to policy development: the tension between federal and provincial jurisdiction, regional resource endowments, and the proximity of the United States as a trading partner and primary export market.
"Alberta in Canada’s Net Zero Future: Seizing Opportunities While Adapting to Change" (with Chris Bataille, Sarah Dobson and Anna Kanduth). 2021 (forthcoming). Invited chapter in Alberta’s Economic Future. Robert Mansell and Ken McKenzie, eds. The School of Public Policy, University of Calgary.
We explore what a net zero emissions policy means for Alberta, outlining transition pathways for Alberta along Canada’s net zero pathways, and discuss the challenges and opportunities for Alberta on each of these fronts.
"Fiscal integration with internal trade: Quantifying the effects of federal transfers in Canada" (with Trevor Tombe). 2021. Canadian Journal of Economics. Formerly “What's Inside Counts: Migration, Taxes, and the Internal Gains from Trade”
Costs to trade between regions of Canada are large. We uncover important effects of fiscal transfers on trade flows, specialization patterns, and the gains from trade. In addition, we demonstrate that the effect of transfers on migration is significantly amplified by trade and therefore increases the potentially negative effect of transfers on aggregate GDP and productivity.
“Forks in the Road: Energy Policies in Canada and the US since the Shale Revolution” (with J-S Rioux). 2020. American Review of Canadian Studies 50(1), 66-85.
We examine policy responses in Canada and the US to the shale revolution and changing North American oil and gas markets. We outline the effect of the shale revolution on North American oil and gas markets, and how the subsequent energy policy choices in each country changed the relationship between Canada and the US. In the US, increasing production combined with the policy imperative of maintaining energy security led to less support for Canadian supply, and the subsequent on-off-on saga of the Keystone XL pipeline. In Canada, growing concern about the balance between the environment and the economy led to stalled pipeline development and reform of regulatory systems, problems exacerbated by the new policy direction in the US.
"Carbon Pricing in a Federal State: The Case of Canada." 2020. ifo DICE Report - Journal for Institutional Comparisons. 18(1), 13-19
This short paper reviews the evolution of emissions pricing policies in Canada, and the political changes that led to implementation and political retreat from emissions pricing. Electoral cycles in Canada created a policy window for coordinated and substantive policy development on emissions pricing, relying on pre-existing provincial policies as building blocks for federal policy.
“Canada’s Role in Global Energy Markets.” 2019. Invited chapter in Energy and Geostrategy, 6th Edition.
Increasing use of hydraulic fracturing and the subsequent rise of shale and tight oil and natural gas production has transformed North American energy markets. These changes have been particularly disruptive for Canada, as the United States is its primary export market and these changes have disrupted historical trade flows. Compounding the effects of market changes are a set of energy and environmental policy changes enacted by federal and provincial governments in Canada, as well as rising domestic opposition to energy development. This chapter explores the effects of these changes on Canadian oil and gas markets and production, and describes the impact on Canada’s role in global energy markets.
"Environmental Policy Transformations and Canada at 150.” 2019. Invited chapter in Policy Transformation in Canada: Is Past Prologue?, Peter John Loewen, Carolyn Hughes Tuohy, Andrew Potter and Sophie Borwein, eds.
I describe the challenges associated with successful implementation of climate policy in Canada: policy to address climate change is a collective action problem; benefits and costs are still uncertain; meeting Canada's 2030 emissions targets will require incurring significant economic costs; the distribution of burden across provinces and territories; competitiveness impacts and carbon leakage in the absence of policy action from other countries; and Canada's relatively small contributions to global emissions.
"Environmental Policy and Misallocation: The Productivity Effect of Intensity Standards" (with Trevor Tombe). 2015. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 72: 137-163, July .
We compare energy taxes with intensity standards in the context of firms with market power and heterogeneous productivity in multiple industries. We find intensity standards create distortions between firms that lower productivity; taxes avoid these distortions and are therefore superior. We investigate means to mitigate the negative consequences of intensity standards.
Peer-Reviewed Policy Papers
"A Multiple Account Benefit-Cost Analysis of Coal Mining in Alberta" (with Megan Bailey, Emily Galley, Chris Joseph and Blake Shaffer). The School of Public Policy Publications 14(32). Posted on SSRN.
We examine the positive and negative effects of coal mining in Alberta from a social perspective — that of the province of Alberta rather than the project proponent — using benefit-cost analysis. We find small economic benefits in the form of incremental tax revenues ($440 million, undiscounted dollars) and employment earnings by mineworkers ($35 million, undiscounted dollars). In contrast, costs to Alberta are likely to be significant. These costs come from displacing other economic activity (primarily ranching and tourism); significant and adverse environmental impacts on water, wildlife, vegetation and air; a non-zero probability the province will be responsible for reclamation liabilities; negative social impacts on nearby communities; and interference with Indigenous Peoples’ interests and rights. Overall, we conclude that coal mine development is not likely to be a net benefit to Alberta, and the costs are likely to outweigh the benefits.
"A Review of Barriers to Full-Scale Deployment of Emissions-Reduction Technologies" (with G. Kent Fellows and Victoria Goodday). 2021. The School of Public Policy Publications.
We review the regulatory, economic, financial and policy environment for cleantech in Alberta, focusing on the petroleum industry, and identify challenges and barriers faced by cleantech proponents.
Working paper version
"Enabling Partial Upgrading in Alberta: A Review of the Regulatory Framework and Opportunities for Improvement" (with G. Kent Fellows and Victoria Goodday). 2019. The School of Public Policy Publications, 12 (December).
We examine regulation in Alberta's petrochemical and oil and gas industries, in order to identify any potential regulatory gaps associated with partial upgrading of bitumen, a new technology.
"The Greenhouse Gas Emissions Coverage of Carbon Pricing Instruments for Canadian Provinces" (with Sarah Dobson and Brendan Boyd). 2019. The School of Public Policy Publications, 12 (February).
We compare provincial pricing systems (current and former) and the federal benchmark and backstop in Canada, focusing on coverage of the carbon price (types of emissions and sectors of the economy).
Working paper version (Department of Economics Working Paper 2018-07).
"Assessing Policy Support for Emissions-Intensive and Trade-Exposed Industries" (with Sarah Dobson). 2018. The School of Public Policy Publications, 11 (October).
We provide an overview of the EITE definitions and support policies in place in Canada and compare those to definitions and policies in Australia, California and the European Union. We evaluate both domestic and international EITE support policies using the metrics of administrative costs, economic efficiency, emissions reduction incentive, and equity across and within sectors.
We explore market potential in Europe for East Coast Canadian liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects, and assess the competitiveness of those projects relative to U.S. East Coast projects. As a slower-moving and higher-cost jurisdiction, Canada will face challenges entering this market. However, European desire for alternative suppliers may be sufficient to support Canadian projects.
“The Ground Rules for Effective OBAs: Principles for Addressing Carbon-Pricing Competitiveness Concerns through the Use of Output-Based Allocations” (with Sarah Dobson, G. Kent Fellows and Trevor Tombe). 2017. The School of Public Policy Publications, 10 (June).
We explain the key principles desirable in implementing output-based allocation systems to mitigate competitiveness concerns from emissions pricing.
"Public-Interest Benefit Evaluation of Partial-Upgrading Technology" (with G. Kent Fellows, Robert Mansell and Ron Schlenker). 2017. The School of Public Policy Publications, 10 (January).
Approximately 60 per cent of Alberta’s oil sands production is non-upgraded bitumen which, after being mixed with a diluting agent (diluent) to allow transport, is exported. A popular view within Alberta — and particularly among Albertan politicians — is that a much larger share of oil sands bitumen should be upgraded in the province. We evaluate the potential of partial-upgrading technology from a private and social perspective for Alberta. Based on a model of a single 100,000-barrel-a-day partial upgrader, the value uplift could be $10 to $15 per bitumen barrel.
"Energy Projects, Social Licence, Public Acceptance and Regulatory Systems in Canada" (with John Colton, Kenneth Corscadden, Stewart Fast, Monica Gattinger, Joel Gehman, Martha Hall Findlay, Dylan Morgan, Judith Sayers and Adonis Yatchew). 2016. The School of Public Policy Publications, 9 (May).
This white paper reports on the results of a year-long interdisciplinary collaboration aimed at identifying and summarizing extant research regarding social licence and related concepts, with a particular emphasis on understanding its implications for public acceptance of energy projects in Canada, and their related regulatory processes.
“The Case for a Carbon Tax in Alberta” (with Sarah Dobson). 2015. The School of Public Policy Publications, 8 (November).
We review and assessing the efficacy of Alberta’s Specified Gas Emitters Regulation (SGER), the major policy instrument the used to regulate and reduce emissions in Alberta. While Alberta displayed leadership as the first jurisdiction in North America to introduce a price on carbon in 2007, SGER has been less than effective in reducing emissions. We find that SGER has only reduced emissions by a maximum of three per cent (relative to what emissions would have been in the absence of the policy) between 2007 and 2014. We discuss alternative policy approaches, and the pros and cons of each, before outlining our preferred policy, a carbon tax, and the upper bound on costs to the Alberta economy and consumers.
“Risky Business: The Issue of Timing, Entry and Performance in the Asia-Pacific LNG Market” (with Michal C. Moore, Roman Karski, Dave Hackett, Leigh Noda, Mark Pilcher). 2014. The School of Public Policy Publications, 7 (July).
We assess the costs associated with liquefied natural gas exports from the B.C. coast, global competition and demand in the Asia-Pacific region for Canadian LNG. Canada has potential as an exporter, but a limited time frame in which to sign contracts and develop facilities.
“Aboriginal-Canadians and Energy Literacy: A Survey of Opinions and Thoughts on Energy” (with Andre Turcotte and Michal C. Moore). 2014. The School of Public Policy Publications, 7 (February).
We survey Aboriginal-Canadians on their knowledge of and opinions on energy. This survey reveals their knowledge and opinions about Canada’s energy system are similar to that of Canadians polled in previous surveys. Aboriginal-Canadians place less trust in business, industry groups and the government as reliable sources of information about energy issues.
"The "Green Jobs" Fantasy: Why the Economic and Environmental Reality Can Never Live Up to the Political Promise" (with Michal C. Moore). 2013. The School of Public Policy Publications, 6 (October).
Summarize the green jobs literature and various definitions. We argue it is bad policy to use "green jobs" as a measure of policy success in environmental mitigation. Instead, policy-makers and politicians should focus on energy intensity and GHG intensity of industries.
"The Importance of Policy Neutrality for Lowering Greenhouse Gas Emissions" (with Trevor Tombe). 2013. The School of Public Policy Publications, 6 (March).
We estimate the benefits of energy taxes relative to intensity standards in the Canadian economy. Intensity standards create distortions between firms that lower productivity; taxes avoid these distortions and are therefore superior. We investigate means to mitigate the negative consequences of intensity standards.
"Energy and Energy Literacy in Canada: A Survey of Business and Policy Leadership" (with Michal C. Moore, Andre Turcotte and Bernie Walp). 2013. The School of Public Policy Publications, 6 (February).
Results from a Canada-wide survey of business and policy leaders on their attitudes about and knowledge of energy. The survey revealed thought leaders have knowledge levels very similar to the Canadian public, and there is a clear preference for more planning and systematically adapting to changing energy markets and environmental conditions through the development of some form of public policy energy strategies.
"Pacific Basin Heavy Oil Refining Capacity" (with Dave Hackett, Susan Grissom, Leigh Noda and Michal C. Moore). 2013. The School of Public Policy Publications, 6 (February).
A survey of coking capacity (as a proxy for heavy oil refining capacity) and the market for heavy oil products in the Pacific Region.
Results from a Canada-wide survey about energy literacy. The survey revealed Canadians have a good general knowledge of energy use and relative cost but lack detailed knowledge about sources of energy fuels, as well as sources and linkages with environmental impacts.
“Size, Role and Performance in the Oil and Gas Sector” (with Robert Mansell, Matt Krzepkowski and Michal C. Moore). 2012. The School of Public Policy Publications, 5 (July).
We examine the relative performance of exploration and production firms in Alberta's oil and gas sector.
Other Policy Publications
"Measuring the Economic Impact of Alberta’s Crude Oil Curtailment Policy" (with Brandon Schaufele). 2021. Ivey Energy Policy and Management Centre Policy Brief.
We measure the short-run economic impact of Alberta’s 2012-2020 oil curtailment policy. The curtailment policy led to an estimated increase in producer operating income of $658 million per month, while consumers, predominantly refiners in the US Midwest, lost economic benefits equal to $763 million per month.
"An Overview of Global Liquefied Natural Gas Markets and Implications for Canada" (with Sarah Dobson, G. Kent Fellows, Dexter Lam and Paul Craig). 2018. The School of Public Policy Publications (Briefing Paper), 11 (July).
We review the current state of global liquefied natural gas (LNG) markets and the potential role for Canada. A second wave of new LNG capacity is likely needed by the mid-2020s, creating an opportunity for Canadian projects to move forward.
"Who Is Getting A Carbon-Tax Rebate?" (with Sarah Dobson). 2016. The School of Public Policy Publications (Communique), 9 (June).
With its 2016 budget, the Government of Alberta laid out the basic details of the carbon tax rebate. The rebate is constructed to increase based on household size, and will decrease with income after a pre-set cutoff. The government has stated six in 10 households will be eligible for a full rebate, with an additional six per cent receiving a partial rebate. We examines the income distribution of Albertans, to determine how the rebate and income cutoffs affect different types of Alberta families. Using easily available data from Statistics Canada, we shed light on the question of who will receive a carbon-tax rebate.
"Policy Advice to Alberta's New Premier" (with Jack Mintz, Ron Kneebone and Ted Morton). 2014. The School of Public Policy Publications (Communique), 7 (September).
A reprint of a series of op-eds, providing advice to Alberta Premier Jim Prentice after his election in September 2014.
"Safety in Numbers: Evaluating Canadian Rail Safety Data" 2014. The School of Public Policy Publications (Communique), 7 (April).
I evaluate the state of public available data on rail accidents and incidents in Canada, and conclude the data is not adequate to properly assess rail safety, though one can determine average probabilities of occurrences.
"The Future of Energy Regulation and Policy Development: A Summary Paper" (with Shantel Jordison (nee Beach) and Andrew Wilkins). 2014. The School of Public Policy Publications (Summary Paper), 7 (August).
This paper summarizes the discussion and main themes, policy-related implications and observations arising from a symposium on the future of energy regulation in Canada, held in September 2013.
"Grasping at Straws: Comments on the Alberta Pipeline Safety Review." 2013. The School of Public Policy Publications (Communique), 6 (October).
I evaluate thirteen of seventeen recommendations from the "Alberta Pipeline Safety Review" commissioned by the Alberta Government. In general, the recommendations are superficial and of little practical use for improving pipeline safety in Alberta.
"An Analysis of Industrial Policy Mechanisms to Support Commercial Deployment of Bitumen Partial Upgrading in Alberta" (with G. Kent Fellows & Alaz Munzur). 2021. Report prepared for Alberta Innovates.
We use a model of capacity investment to explore the expected effect of different policy supports — such as direct equity investments or zero-cost loans — on firms’ decision to invest in a partial upgrading facility integrated with an existing oil sands extraction facility.
"Defining and Describing Energy Poverty in British Columbia: The Distribution of Households' Energy Expenditure" (with Blake Shaffer). 2020. Report prepared for the BC Basic Income Panel. December.
We examine household energy poverty—the inability of households to afford energy services or maintain adequate living conditions—in British Columbia with several indicators from academic literature using 2017 Survey of Household Spending public-use microdata.
"Public-Interest Determination for Infrastructure Development: A Review of Guidance and Practice in Canada" (with Victoria Goodday and Alana Westwood). 2020. March.
Report for a SSHRC Knowledge Synthesis Grant, exploring where and how public interest test provisions for infrastructure approval appear in Canadian statutes and regulations, and how decision-makers (statutory bodies and the courts) have interpreted and applied these provisions in practice.
"A Review of Barriers to Full-Scale Deployment of Emissions-Reduction Technologies" (with G. Kent Fellows and Victoria Goodday). 2019. Report prepared for Emissions Reduction Alberta.
We review the regulatory, economic, financial and policy environment for cleantech in Alberta, focusing on the petroleum industry, and identify challenges and barriers faced by cleantech proponents.
Published by The School of Public Policy Publications in 2021.
“Comprehensive Assessment of Regulatory Programs” (with Akash Asif). 2018. Report to the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. June.
We provide a knowledge synthesis of best practices in assessing regulation and regulatory programs. First, we describe different levels or scopes of review (reviewing regulatory systems, regulatory bodies, regulatory processes and regulations), then outline principles to help make reviews successful within a chosen scope. Second, we provide a detailed discussion of the experiences of Australia, the European Union and the United States in performing regulatory reviews, outlining the process and outcomes, and present lessons for Canada. Third, we summarize tools to use in horizontal reviews, drawing on the literature examined and by the lessons from jurisdictional case studies.
“Meaningful Engagement of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities in Marine Activities: Phase 2 Analysis” (with Brendan Boyd and Jessie Arthur). 2018. Report to the PAME Working Group of the Arctic Council. March.
We review and analyze 240 publicly available documents that relate to meaningful engagement in Arctic marine and coastal activities, and that are sourced from four actor categories: Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities, governments (Government), private-sector companies (Industry), and the Arctic Council. Themes with keywords are used to explore the concept of meaningful engagement in Arctic communities used by the different actors.
"Indigenous, Industry and Government Perspectives on Consultation in Resource Development" (with Brendan Boyd and Sophie Lorefice). 2017.
Report for a SSHRC Knowledge Synthesis Grant, exploring current understandings and interpretations of engagement and the duty to consult with Indigenous Peoples in the context of resource development in Canada through analysis of public available documents on consultation and engagement from Indigenous groups, governments and industry.
"Hydraulic Fracturing and Public Policy" (with Sarah Dobson and Sophie Lorefice). 2016.
Report for a SSHRC Knowledge Synthesis Grant, exploring knowledge gaps in scientific/academic work, grey literature, and policy and regulatory documents related to the costs and benefits of hydraulic fracturing in Canada.
"Energy and Environmental Policy Trends: The Hidden Cost of a Single-Use Plastics Ban" (with Victoria Goodday and Nick Schumacher). 2020. Policy Trends series, The School of Public Policy Publications, November.
We discuss the state of scientific evidence on the environmental harm from plastics.
"Energy and Environmental Policy Trends: Cheap Renewables Have Arrived" (with Nick Schumacher, Victoria Goodday and Blake Shaffer). 2020. Policy Trends series, The School of Public Policy Publications, November.
We highlight recently released data which shows the levelized cost of energy for wind and solar has reached parity with efficient natural gas power plants.
"Addressing the Threat of COVID-19 and the Oil Price War in the Petroleum Sector" (with Richard Masson). 2020. Policy Trends series, The School of Public Policy Publications, March.
We discuss the effects of COVID-19 and Saudi Arabia-Russia price war on the Canadian petroleum sector.
“Energy and Environmental Policy Trends: Our Planet in 2040 – Comparing World Energy Outlooks" (with G. Kent Fellows, Victoria Goodday, and Rabia Ladha). 2019. Policy Trends series, The School of Public Policy Publications, July.
We compare predictions of energy use and greenhouse gas emissions from world energy reports.
"Energy and Environmental Policy Trends: Carbon Tax Costs Vary Widely Across Households" (with Trevor Tombe). 2019. Policy Trends series, The School of Public Policy Publications, March.
We estimate the distribution of carbon tax costs net of rebates across all Alberta families and report results by family income, for the Alberta rebate system and the federal system.
"Energy and Environmental Policy Trends: The Growing Opportunity for LNG in China" (with Sam Green). 2018. Policy Trends series, The School of Public Policy Publications. June.
We describe the growing opportunity for Canada to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) to China.
Testimony to the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, 2017
Canada at a crossroads in its future hydrocarbon output, WPC Yearbook 2016.
A reply to an article written by Thomas Mulcair in the May 2013 issue of Policy Options. We criticize misconceptions about economic policy.