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Sierra Daily

Jan 10, 2012

Canada Flips Out Over Tar-Sands Opposition

Tarsands-smallerCanada is having a difficult time adjusting to its rapid conversion from the Land of Nice to Sinister Petro-State. Considered a worldwide environmental leader only a few short years ago, Canada has now abandoned the Kyoto Protocol and is pushing its dirty tar-sands oil as fiercely as any Middle Eastern sultanate. Here's Bryan Walsh in Time:

Canada's oil reserves are second only to those in Saudi Arabia, and last year it exported over 480 million barrels of crude oil. Where does a lot of that oil go?  Try the United States of America, which gets more crude from Canada than any other single country. And as unconventional oil sands --which have a larger greenhouse-gas footprint than conventional crude --in Alberta continue to grow, so will Canada's carbon emissions.

What's different with that story today is that, following President Obama's decision to postpone action on the Keystone XL pipeline until 2013, Canada is wondering whether the United States will continue to be a reliable market. Hence this remarkable screed from Joe Oliver, Minister of Natural Resources, in which he asserts the urgency of seeking new energy markets and blames Guess Who for blocking that goal:

Unfortunately, there are environmental and other radical groups that would seek to block this opportunity to diversify our trade.  Their goal is to stop any major project no matter what the cost to Canadian families in lost jobs and economic growth. No forestry.  No mining.  No oil.  No gas. No more hydro-electric dams.

These groups threaten to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda.  They seek to exploit any loophole they can find, stacking public hearings with bodies to ensure that delays kill good projects.  They use funding from foreign special interest groups to undermine Canada’s national economic interest. They attract jet-setting celebrities with some of the largest personal carbon footprints in the world to lecture Canadians not to develop our natural resources.  Finally, if all other avenues have failed, they will take a quintessential American approach: sue everyone and anyone to delay the project even further. They do this because they know it can work.  It works because it helps them to achieve their ultimate objective: delay a project to the point it becomes economically unviable.

At issue here, explains the UK Guardian, is the proposed 730-mile-long Northern Gateway pipeline from the Alberta tar-sands fields to a new port at Kitimat, British Columbia, where it could be sent to U.S. west coast ports or to Asia.

The conservative government's hardball tactics come ahead of Tuesday's public hearings on the Northern Gateway pipeline. More than 4,300 people have signed up to comment on the project; environmental groups believe most want to block the pipeline.

In Petro-State thinking, opposition to environmentally destructive projects is not democracy in action, it's "stacking public hearings with bodies to ensure that delays kill good projects." Oil doesn't only corrupt the climate.

--Paul Rauber

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