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U.S. urges ‘fivefold expansion’ in Alberta oilsands production

The U.S. wants Canada to dramatically expand its oil exports from the Alberta oilsands, a move that could have major implications on the environment.

U.S. and Canadian oil executives and government officials met for a two-day oil summit in Houston in January 2006 and made plans for a “fivefold expansion” in oilsands production in a relatively “short time span,” according to minutes of the meeting obtained by the CBC’s French-language network, Radio-Canada.

The meeting was organized by Natural Resources Canada and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Canada is already the top exporter of oil to the American market, exporting the equivalent of one million barrels a day – the exact amount that the oilsands industry in Alberta currently produces.

A fivefold increase would mean the export of five million barrels a day, which would supply a quarter of current American consumption and add up to almost half of all U.S. imports.
(18 Jan 2007)
UPDATE (Jan 22).
Contributor NE writes:

Based on previous reports on the possibilities for the Alberta oilsands, it’s hard to imagine how “plans for a “fivefold expansion” in oilsands production in a relatively “short time span,” could ever be successful.

“This plan is the outcome of discussions between oil executives and gouvernment officials during a two day summit in Houston in January 2006” — I assume this is not a typo and that the meeting did happen a year ago.

Canada: Close energy ties to U.S. limit action on climate change

Maude Barlow, Calgary Herald via Council of Canadians
This week, the Harper government proved once again that it is completely out of sync with the Canadian public.

In Nairobi, environmental groups joined forces with opposition MPs and Quebec’s environment minister to show the world that Canadians disapprove of the Harper government’s “made in Canada” solution to climate change. As the Conservative government struggles to save face before the international community, it is not gaining much sympathy from the Canadian public.

An Environics poll last week revealed that the environment was the second most important issue to Canadians, right behind health care. In contrast, Canada-U.S. relations was fairly low on the priority list for the majority of Canadians.

Ironically, it is the Harper government’s emphasis on Canada-U.S. relations that is at the heart of Canada’s failure to meet Kyoto targets. Kyoto or no Kyoto, Canada cannot commit to an effective strategy to address climate change unless our government is willing to substantially change our relationship with the U.S. (18 Jan 2007)
More from the Council of Canadians:

Du sable dans l’engrenage (Sand in the Gears)

Jean-François Lépine, Radio-Canada.
Can Canada seriously contemplate reducing its greenhouse gas emissions while it pursues a policy of maximising oil production in the Alberta tar sands?

Journalist Guy Gendron and director Jean-Luc Paquette reveal the hidden face of Prime Minister Harper’s environmental policy, one chiefly influenced by the Alberta petroleum industry. They follow the chronology of Canada’s committments to produce more and more oil from the tar sands in order to help quench America’s thirst.
(19 Jan 2007)
Contributor Marc writes: This is a superb reportage from Radio-Canada, Canada’s French-language national broadcaster. It does an excellent job of bringing together the many issues at play in Alberta’s tar sands, and leaves little doubt that an environmental disaster of epic proportions is unfolding in Alberta. It’s quite clear that Stephen Harper’s Conservatives were so opposed to Kyoto because they are so committed to the rapid expansion of tar sand development in Alberta. The two positions are fundamentally incompatible.

Many of the prominent figures interviewed are English-speaking, so there are quite a few passages where the spoken language is English with French subtitles. Hopefully Canada’s English-language broadcaster the CBC will pick this story up and do an English version of it too. This program should be required viewing for every Canadian, and everyone else for that matter.

To watch the progam, just click on the ‘Regarder l’enquête de Zone libre’ link. There’s also another video link that explores the making of the program.

BA: About 20 minutes long. I agree with Marc about the quality of the journalism, but one needs to understand French to get much out of it. I had to use Internet Explorer rather than Firefox to see the video – perhaps it’s my settings.

Nuclear power in oilsands extraction questioned

Jason Fekete, CanWest
Federal Liberal Leader Stephane Dion threw cold water Friday on using nuclear energy to extract bitumen from the Alberta oilsands.

Speaking Friday to the Calgary Herald editorial board, Dion acknowledged nuclear is part of the “energy mix” in Canada, but doesn’t believe it’s a viable option for use in Alberta’s oilsands due to lingering concerns about whether its waste can be safely disposed.

“I have no power to stop a province to do that. It’s provincial jurisdiction,” Dion said. “I am concerned about the waste and I don’t hide my concerns.”

The debate over nuclear power in Alberta has heated up in recent months as industry and government look for ways to reduce the use of natural gas and slash greenhouse gas emissions from the Athabasca oilsands — a major contributor to carbon dioxide emissions in Canada.
(13 Jan 2007)