Oil's Deep State
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Oil's Deep State

How the petroleum industry undermines democracy and stops action on global warming

By Kevin Taft

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Why have democratic governments failed to take serious steps to reduce carbon emissions despite dire warnings and compelling evidence of the profound and growing threat posed by global warming?

Most of the writing on global warming is by scientists, academics, environmentalists, and journalists. Kevin Taft, a former leader of the opposition in Alberta, brings a fresh perspective through the insight he gained as an elected politician who had an insider's eyewitness view of the role of the oil industry. His answer, in brief: The oil industry has captured key democratic institutions in both Alberta and Ottawa.

Taft begins his book with a perceptive observer's account of a recent court casein Ottawa which laid bare the tactics and techniques of the industry, its insiders and lobbyists. He casts dramatic new light on exactly how corporate lobbyists, politicians, bureaucrats, universities, and other organizations are working together to pursue the oil industry's agenda.

He offers a brisk tour of the recent work of scholars who have developed the concepts of the deep state and institutional capture to understand how one rich industry can override the public interest.

Taft views global warming and weakened democracy as two symptoms of the same problem — the loss of democratic institutions to corporate influence and control. He sees citizen engagement and direct action by the public as the only response that can unravel big oil's deep state.



Introduction: An unwitting experiment

Part One: Breakdown

  • Chapter 1 EPIC: The oil industry comes to call
  • Chapter 2 The civil service falls in line
  • Chapter 3 Global warming: What industry knew and when they knew it
  • Chapter 4 “The debate is closing”: The carbonizing of American politics
  • Chapter 5 The road to Trump 

Part Two: Capture

  • Chapter 6 The dynamics of democracy
  • Chapter 7 A theory of the deep state
  • Chapter 8 Oil and the deep state

Part Three: Possession

  • Chapter 9 The origins of oil’s deep state in Canada
  • Chapter 10 Peter Lougheed and the rise of the oil sands
  • Chapter 11 Pulling the levers of power: From Lougheed to Klein
  • Chapter 12 Industry captures the oil sands
  • Chapter 13 Pushing the bar higher
  • Chapter 14 The NDP in a world made for oil
  • Chapter 15 Oil’s deep state at work
  • Chapter 16 The long reach of oil’s deep state

Part Four: Renewal

  • Chapter 17 Crossing the carbon divide




Winner - The Hill Times' List of 100 Best Books - 2017

"Kevin Taft's powerful book, Oil's Deep State is compelling because it is drawn from his personal experience as a politician. In order to understand why governments at the federal and provincial levels have been so reticent in taking action to get us off fossil fuels, we must see that money has undermined democracy. There is no place for ethics or morality when the sole drive of corporations is to make money, the more and faster, the better, and that means getting rid of all obstacles to unbridled growth, even if the future of generations to come is in jeopardy. Unless corporations are reined in, environmental destruction and climate change are certain to happen. Read this book, get mad, then take action to restore democracy."

- David Suzuki

"Taft delivers a gripping read for anyone who wonders why, despite a broad consensus for ambitious action in the face of the climate crisis, our country is hurtling in the wrong direction."

- Avi Lewis, journalist and filmmaker

"Taft's book is a must for voting-age Canadians who smugly believe that the political idiocy unfolding in the USA can't happen in Canada."

- David Schindler, environmental scientist

"Kevin Taft, the ultimate insider / outsider, deftly peels back the cover over what Big Oil doesn't want you to see."

- Gordon Laxer, author and director of Parkland Institute

". . .a must read for anyone who wants to save democracy and the planet at the same time."

- Gillian Steward, Toronto Star columnist

"This book is a wonderful surprise...once I started I could not put it down. This story contains so much information and is rounded out in such a way that you will soon find something that will pique your interest and take you down the rabbit hole."

- Doreen Webb Creatively United

"Has the federal government — along with certain provincial governments — been captured by Canada's energy sector? Kevin Taft, a former leader of Alberta's Liberal Party (2004-08) believes so."

- Bruce Livesey The Tyee

"Taft argues that the oil and gas industry has developed a stranglehold over federal and provincial governments, as well as large swaths of academia and the media, corroding Canadians' ability to meaningfully address the threat of climate change."

- Jeremy Appel The Monitor

"Detailed and prosecutorial."

- Vit Wagner Quill & Quire

"So, here we are, a tiny community in the big scheme of things, looking for ways to help our world crumbling under plastic, waste and climate disaster, and we have a prime minister, for all his big talk on climate change and signing the Paris Accord, basically telling us that we are still going to promote fossil fuels no matter what the cost. It's depressing and discouraging."

- Ruth Farquhar The Sudbury Star

"Taft meticulously details the impact powerful forces from the oil industry had over Alberta during the long-reign of the old Progressive Conservative government and the influence it still exerts over Rachel Notley's New Democratic Party government in the never-ending debate over oil pipelines."

- Dave Cournoyer Daveberta (blog)

"It's a challenging and insightful read, one that will likely spark many debates about how we talk and think about the oil and gas sector."

- James Wilt DeSmog Canada

"Taft offers a full-throated denunciation of the politicians in both countries who align themselves with energy companies and appear to do their bidding on climate-change policy. Such secretive collaboration, he writes, has led to the embedding of "oil's deep state" in the key institutions of democracy in Alberta, but also in Ottawa and in Washington."

- Shawn McCarthy The Globe and Mail

"A must read for every Albertan."

- Sharon Bodnarchuk, Librarian, Calgary Public Library CBC Alberta: CBC Listen, Alberta@Noon

"It really inspires a different kind of conversation about the future of oil, about how we manage our land, about government."

- Rosemary Griebel CBC Alberta

"Kevin Taft brings a fresh perspective through the insight he gained as an elected politician who had an insider's eyewitness view of the role of the oil industry in Alberta."

- Maria Alejandra Ottawa Life Magazine

"Deep states cement their power in darkness, Taft writes; shine a light and they recoil. Exposing how the sector undermines the environment to further corporate greed, he notes, can restore public faith that energy regulators and governments work for us—not big oil."

- Andrew Reeves This Magazine

KEVIN TAFT holds a Ph.D. in Business and is the author of four best-selling books and many research studies and articles on political and economic issues in Alberta. He was a member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta with the Alberta Liberal Party from 2001 to 2012, and Leader of the Opposition from 2004 to 2008. He has extensive public policy experience in the Alberta government, private sector, and nn-profit sector, particularly in health, energy, and economic policy. He lives in Edmonton.

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Publication Details:

Binding: Paperback, 256 pages
Publication Date: 11th September 2018
ISBN: 9781459413078
Format: 9in x 6in

BISAC Code:  POL016000, POL044000, POL056000, POL064000
Imprint: Lorimer


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