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US opposition to Harper’s climate-energy pact proposal

The Canadian Press reports this morning that, “Canada’s environment minister sat down Monday for a chat with one of the most powerful senators in the United States, but the issue that’s hounding Jim Prentice back home — Alberta’s oilsands — was not discussed…Prentice is in Washington this week to talk to American power brokers about collaborating on clean energy and climate change policies.”


The Canadian Press adds, “During discussions with President Barack Obama last month in Ottawa, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s attempts to protect the tar sands from any adverse American policies in a joint U.S.-Canada climate change and energy pact didn’t fly, said a source close to the talks. An Environment Ministry official disputed that version of events late Monday, however, saying no special requests were made about the oil sands during the Parliament Hill discussion.”

The Toronto Star reports today that environmentalist Robert Kennedy Jr. says, “Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of faith in the Canadian government to mount a reversal (on the tar sands). I don’t believe (Prime Minister) Stephen Harper and Barack Obama are on the same page.”


The Canadian Press notes, “There’s little doubt, however, that the tar sands will come up in Prentice’s discussions Tuesday with Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Todd Stern, the president’s special envoy on climate change and Lisa Jackson, the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency.”

Today’s Globe and Mail reports that, “Environment Minister Jim Prentice was greeted in Washington yesterday by a growing protest movement that is urging the Obama administration to force Canada to get tough on greenhouse gas emitters…In a letter to Lisa Jackson, director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Energy Secretary Stephen Chu, environmental groups that included the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club (and the Council of Canadians) said Canada has no realistic plan for reducing emissions from the oil sands.”

The full text of that letter can be read at http://canadians.org/energy/documents/JacksonChu-CleanEnergyDialogue.pdf.


The Canadian Press also notes, “One U.S. congressman — Democrat Henry Waxman of California, an ardent environmentalist — has all but declared war on the oil sands, once proposing to ban dirty fuels, including oil produced by Alberta’s tarsands, from purchase by U.S. federal agencies. As the new chairman of the House energy and commerce committee, Waxman has pledged to have a bill combining energy issues and climate change provisions — including a proposed cap-and-trade system — ready for Congress this spring.”

The Financial Post reported on November 1, 2008 that, “Democratic California Congressman Henry Waxman…was a key proponent of banning the use of oil from the oil sands in federal vehicles, part of a law aimed at reducing U.S. dependence on oil passed by legislators last December.” The Globe and Mail reported back on June 24, 2008 that, “Section 526 of the US Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (which was signed into US law on December 19, 2007) bans federal agencies from buying alternative (or synthetic) fuels that produce more greenhouse gases than conventional oil. This would include purchases by the military and postal service – far and away the two biggest consumers of fuel in the United States.” They note this could “jeopardize the oil sands industry’s massive growth plans into the US market.”

In May 2008, the Council of Canadians signed an open letter supporting Section 526 by the US-based Natural Resources Defense Council and sent to US legislators. The full text of that letter can be read at http://docs.nrdc.org/globalwarming/files/glo_08050701A.pdf.