Cover: Fossilized: Environmental Policy in Canada's Petro-Provinces, by Angela V. Carter. illustration: an upside-down white maple leaf; dead trees and oil droplets hang from the bottom of the leaf while the stem is part of an oil factory, emitting black smoke. The image is on a red background.
244 pages, 6 x 9
7 charts
Release Date:15 May 2021
Release Date:15 Oct 2020
Release Date:15 Oct 2020
Release Date:15 Oct 2020


Environmental Policy in Canada's Petro-Provinces

UBC Press

Thanks to increasingly extreme forms of oil extraction, Canada’s largest oil-producing provinces underwent exceptional economic growth from 2005 to 2015. Yet oil’s economic miracle obscured its ecological costs. Fossilized traces this development trajectory, assessing how the governments of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador offered extensive support for oil development, and exploring the often downplayed environmental effects of extraction.

At the height of the boom, these oil-dependent provinces undermined their environmental policies or let them decay to boost production. Angela Carter investigates overarching institutional trends, such as the restructuring of departments that prioritized extraction over environmental protection, and identifies regulatory inadequacies related to environmental assessment, land-use planning, and emissions controls. Her detailed analysis situates these policy dynamics squarely within the historical and global context of late-stage petro-capitalism and growing neoliberalization of environmental policy.

Fossilized reveals a country out of step with the transition unfolding in response to the climate crisis. As the global community moves toward deep decarbonization, Canada’s petro-provinces have intensified oil production, intertwining their fate ever more closely with fossil fuel extraction – at great ecological and economic risk.

This book will be invaluable for scholars and students in environmental studies, political economy, political science, Canadian politics, and geography. More broadly, it will appeal to readers who are engaging with the intensifying debates around oil extraction in Canada.


  • 2021, Winner - Book Awards, Canadian Political Science Association
[Fossilized] cast[s] a new and hopeful light on what political scientists sometimes call a super-wicked problem. Donald Wright, University of New Brunswick, Literary Review of Canada
Carter... is optimistic. Instead of offering investments to the oil and gas industry, why not look to support a new, low-carbon economy? Mary Shortall, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour, Our Times Magazine
Fossilized stands out in its field for its in-depth coverage of how environmental policies in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador have been shaped to further the interests of oil producers. Paul Bowles, professor, Department of Economics and International Graduate Studies Program, University of Northern British Columbia
Angela Carter’s forensic examination of the wilful disregard of environmental concerns by those who should have known better reminds us of the need for continuing vigilance and a healthy critical scepticism in the face of corporate and political efforts to sustain business as usual. From the foreword by Graeme Wynn, professor emeritus, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia

Angela V. Carter is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Waterloo and a fellow at the Balsillie School of International Affairs.

Foreword: Talking about a House on Fire / Graeme Wynn

Introduction: Situating Canada’s Petro-Provinces

1 Alberta: Provincial Life Blood and Anemic Environmental Regulation

2 Saskatchewan: Saskaboom and Environmental Policy Bust

3 Newfoundland and Labrador: Economic Miracle and Environmental Debacle

4 From Boom to Bust: Doubling Down on Oil

Notes, Index

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