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NEWS: Council and IEN to meet with MEPs on the tar sands

The Edmonton Journal reports that, “The provincial government and industry appear to have won over a group of European Union politicians, who left the province Wednesday (to go to Ontario) saying they plan to push a positive view of the Alberta oilsands in debates over new fuel-quality legislation. Delegation chairman Philip Bradbourn (who belongs to the U.K.’s Conservative party) said a tour of oilsands sites his group received was surprising and impressive enough to counter some negative perceptions about the operations. …’What we saw was a very clean situation,’ said Elisabeth Jeggle, a German member of the delegation, which also included politicians from Romania, Bulgaria, Finland and Denmark.”

“Although Europe currently imports little from the oilsands, the politicians’ visit is considered important because the European Union parliament is discussing proposals for a new Fuel Quality Directive that could inhibit Alberta products in the future. The policy is designed to encourage greener energy, and some officials have been pushing to have oilsands fuels ranked as one of the worst options for their environmental footprint.”

“But questions remain on whether the Europeans received a complete picture of the environmental issues in the area. Bradbourn said government tour guides never discussed a recent David Schindler report that found the oilsands boosts the concentration of dangerous metals in the Athabasca watershed. Instead, the group was told any pollutants were naturally occurring, which is the position taken by government scientists and an industry-led monitoring program.”

We will be working to help give the MEPs a fuller picture than provided by the Alberta government and tar sands industry representatives earlier this week.

A joint Indigenous Environmental Network-Council of Canadians media release issued this morning states, “On Friday, November 5th the Indigenous Environmental Network will be hosting a meeting with Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and First Nations representatives from various tar sands impacted communities… They will be joined by trade lawyer Steven Shrybman, author of a new legal opinion for the Council of Canadians and Indigenous Environmental Network on how a proposed Canada-EU free trade agreement would impact the development and regulation of tar sands production.” Council of Canadians climate justice campaigner Andrea-Harden Donahue will also be at this meeting.

Our press release is at http://canadians.org/media/energy/2010/04-Nov-10-a.html. The Edmonton Journal article is at http://www.edmontonjournal.com/business/officials+impressed+Alberta+oilsands+visit/3771475/story.html#ixzz14Kny99v2. We first flagged the MEPs visiting Canada in this campaign blog, http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=4845. In that blog we noted, “The Council of Canadians will be looking for opportunities to intervene in this and to raise the concerns we have about the relationship between the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the tar sands.”