An open letter was sent today by nineteen groups – including the Natural Resources Defense Council, Greenpeace Canada, the Sierra Club of Canada, the Rainforest Action Network, and the Council of Canadians - to US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson and Energy Secretary Steven Chu “regarding the Clean Energy Dialogue and Canadian Environment Minister Jim Prentice’s upcoming visit to Washington.”
The letter to Administrator Jackson and Secretary Chu states, “The current Alberta and Canadian systems for addressing global warming are inadequate in terms of carbon reductions and we do not see stricter standards on the near horizon in either jurisdiction, despite provinces such as Ontario, British Columbia and Manitoba making strides forward. Additionally, while Canada might propose a ‘technological’ fix to the massive environmental problems posed by the tar sands oil industry, there are no ready technologies, funding, or demonstrable political commitment to cleaning up the greenhouse gas emissions, slowing the creation of toxic tailings ponds, reversing the profound impacts on First Nations communities at tar sands ground zero, or addressing the damage to the Boreal forest and migratory birds.”
The letter also states, “Arguments that tar sands expansion can go forward on the basis that CCS will ‘fix’ its carbon footprint are not defensible. CCS would likely only reduce 10-20% of the overall greenhouse gases associated with its total lifecycle emissions making it still dirtier than conventional fuel, and it is fraught with technical challenges. A 2008 Canadian government CCS task force found that ‘only a small portion of the CO2 streams are currently amenable for CCS.’ This is because facilities in the tar sands are diverse and geographically dispersed requiring the construction of a massive infrastructure. There are also substantial transportation emissions associated with production, many of the carbon streams are not pure enough to capture adequately, and we are only starting to understand the greenhouse gas emissions from tar sands that are associated with land use change. CCS also does not address the myriad of other environmental challenges in the tar sands nor does it address the issue of downstream combustion emissions.”
The Globe and Mail reported this morning that, "Canadian federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice lands in Washington today to pursue the Canada-U.S. co-operation on energy and the environment that was promised when the new President visited Ottawa two weeks ago. In meetings with top administration officials, Mr. Prentice will push Canada's proposal for a continental system of emission caps and market-based permit trading that would align Canada's regulatory system with that of our largest trading partner."
The full letter will be posted to the Natural Resources Defense Council website, but this has been delayed due to the snowstorm in New York City. You will also be able to read it later this afternoon on the Council of Canadians website on the energy campaign page.
The Globe and Mail article is at