I am an environmental economist, energy enthusiast, and passionate advocate for good environmental policy (read: passionate critic of bad policy). I have a Ph.D. from Queen’s University in Economics, and a B.Sc (Environmental Sciences) and M.A. (Economics) from the University of Guelph. My first job out of graduate school was as an Assistant Professor at HEC Montreal, where I spent 3 fantastic years. I left HEC Montreal to move to the University of Alberta in 2006, and I am currently Associate Professor.
My research interests span climate and energy economics. I’ve always enjoyed policy work outside of academia. In 2012-2013, I had the opportunity to be the first Visiting Scholar at Environment Canada, where I worked on the oil and gas emissions policies. In 2015, I was appointed chair of Alberta’s Climate Leadership Panel and our recommendations formed the basis for the Climate Leadership Plan implemented in Alberta.
5 responses to “About the Author”
I’m new to your blog, having discovered it through the Globe and Mail’s link to your Sunday piece.
I’ve been poking around trying to find out a little about you; energy issues are very near and dear to me. I have worked in energy for 25 years, starting out operating wells in Swan Hills and now winding down my career in Calgary for Talisman Energy.
I’ve seen my share of terrible ideas in my time, both from industry and from government agencies. I will admit my blood ran cold when I saw that you are an academic at U of A and employed by the Alberta School of Business. Just think “Our Fair Share” and you may know why. I pray I do not live to see another mistake like that – I was heavily, heavily involved throughout the entire time, attending CAPP committee meetings, lobbying through the Premier’s Office, and educating other political contacts. Just the administrative costs of implementing the “royalty simplification” have been astronomical for industry. Alberta easily now has the most complex reporting structure anywhere in the world.
Regardless, I have an open mind at this point – your Sunday piece was outstanding and I hope to see more good stuff from you. I firmly believe North America is embarking upon the biggest structural change it’s economy has seen in decades, and if the “greening” of energy to date is any indication, I don’t like the future. We have the opportunity to make some colossal mistakes heading into a long period of time when the misallocation of precious capital won’t be bailed out by zero percent interest rates and quantitative easing. I don’t see any elected officials up to the task.
Glad to have you reading. I hope you will enjoy and contribute to the discussion. You will notice that many of the regular commentary on here comes from policy folks, but industry experience is certainly a valuable contribution.
I agree strongly with you in terms of reporting complexity. I think we have far too many systems which try to level the rate of return no matter what you are extracting and where you are extracting it. In terms of the discussion of royalty treatments, the fundamental reality is that the oil and gas in the ground are a capital asset, and paying too much (whether in cash, deferred or avoided taxes or in kind) is a foolish thing to do. The issue, as you point out, is that assessing the value of the asset and developing a system which effectively maximizes the value for the owners (you and I) is not easy. It’s easy to set up a system which maximizes jobs and investment (royalties=0) but that’s akin to a landlord charging no rent and claiming success at a full building. By the same token, the landlord who has a building of empty high-rent apartments gets no value from the capital asset either. There have been many mistakes made both before and after Our Fair Share.
I hope that hasn’t closed your mind to the blog. Glad you enjoyed the Sunday globe piece, and I hope you also enjoyed the follow-up on here. I agree that there are too many people promoting poorly thought-out ideas on both sides of the energy evolution debate. Hopefully I can cut through some of it.
Is your father Dick Leach, McGill ’64?
No, sorry. No relation as far as I know.
This exchange is two years old, but I can illuminate it. My brother’s name is Andrew Leach and our dad is indeed Dick Leach (McGill ’64). Dad currently lives in Comox.
I frequently have people telling me they think they heard my brother on the radio talking about energy policy. 🙂
Colin Leach, Calgary