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A company handout photo of a tailings facility at Shell Canada's Muskeg River mine in northern Alberta.
A company handout photo of a tailings facility at Shell Canada's Muskeg River mine in northern Alberta.
(Jeff McIntosh/CP/Shell handout)

DAVE MORRIS

Will Europe pay us to leave the oil sands alone?

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Why couldn’t our oil deposits be like the ones in the middle east, the kind where you stick your finger in the sand and the stuff just comes gushing out? Whatever your view of the controversial Alberta oil sands, both sides agree that extracting their crude is expensive and produces more greenhouse gases than conventional oil. An economist has a proposed solution that could settle the should-we-or-shouldn’t-we debate: just leave the oil there.