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Oil's Deep State
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Oil's Deep State

How the petroleum industry undermines democracy and stops action on global warming - in Alberta, and in Ottawa

By Kevin Taft

$29.95 Hardback
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Rating: 5 / 5 stars - 1 vote(s).


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.

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

- Gillian Steward, Toronto Star columnist

"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

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

"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

"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

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 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 Notleys New Democratic Party government in the never-ending debate over oil pipelines."

- Dave Cournoyer, Daveberta (blog)

"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

"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

"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 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

"A must read for every Albertan."

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

Why are ostensibly environmentally friendly governments ... still so attached to oil sands extraction, with its disproportionate impact on carbon emissions? ... 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

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.

Customer Reviews:

Reviewed by: Duncan Noble on 1st November 2018 9:02AM

A fascinating, well written, extensively documented, and convincing read. Taft starts with a question: “Why have democratic governments failed to act to reduce carbon emissions despite dire warnings and compelling evidence of a profound and growing threat of global warming?”. His answer in brief: democratic institutions (e.g., governments, political parties, regulators, universities, etc.) with a mandate to protect the public interest have been captured by private interests, creating a "Deep State" that protects the private interests of the fossil fuel industry.

I was generally aware that this was happening in Canada, but not to the breadth and depth detailed by Taft in this book. There has been more attention in the media to the situation in the USA (e.g., the "Kochtopus"). Kudos to the author for such a clear and comprehensive analysis. Now it is up to us as citizens to ensure that our democratic institutions are released from capture and renewed.

To the Publisher: One thing I liked about this book is the extensive references/notes. But they are not linked to the text in the eBook version! Is it too much to ask that these notes in the Kindle version I purchased be hyperlinked to the text?



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Publication Details:

Binding: Hardback, 256 pages
Publication Date: 6th October 2017
ISBN: 9781459409972
Format: 9in x 6in

Binding: Electronic book text, 256 pages
Publication Date: 6th October 2017
ISBN: 9781459409996
Format: EPUB

BISAC Code:  POL016000, POL044000, POL056000
Imprint: Lorimer


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