Canada’s Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said his nation wants to work with the U.S. to cut greenhouse-gas emissions, including from Alberta’s oil sands, the source of crude to be carried by the Keystone XL pipeline.
Canada is pursuing policies to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions from using oil sands to the same level as gasoline refined from traditional crude, he said today. He discussed technologies, not policies, that could reduce its greenhouse-gas footprint.
“Our goal is to reduce entirely that differential,” Oliver said during a news conference at the Washington embassy of Canada. “We don’t regard the proposed policies as concessions.”
After meeting with U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz in Washington, Oliver said his nation has agreed to curb emissions, in line with pledges made by the U.S., and the offer isn’t a concession to win approval for the pipeline that will carry oil sands crude to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries.
Oliver was in Washington amid a stepped-up lobbying push by supporters and opponents of Keystone. The administration of President Barack Obama must approve the pipeline, which was proposed by TransCanada Corp. (TRP) five years ago, and has been under State Department review since then. In June at Georgetown University in Washington, Obama declared in a speech that Keystone shouldn’t be approved if it were found to “significantly exacerbate” carbon pollution.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper sent a letter to Obama last month as part of an effort to mollify U.S. concerns about the greenhouse-gas emissions that would result from building the pipeline, said a person familiar with the letter who asked not to be identified because he isn’t authorized to discuss it publicly. Oliver declined to comment on the letter today.
The offer from Harper might give Obama an opening to seek accommodations as a way to approve the project while blunting the complaints of increasingly active environmentalists. Environmental groups have called that offer a desperate ploy that doesn’t alleviate their concerns.
Oliver said his government will consult with the U.S. on rules Canada is developing to reduce emissions in the oil and gas sector. The government has said it will release emission targets for each sector of the world’s 11th-largest economy.
“The oil and gas sector is next,” he told reporters on a conference call after the news conference. “We’re working on that, and that’s an area we’ll be discussing with the Americans.”
Moniz discussed Obama’s plan to curb climate change, efforts to deploy clean energy, carbon-capture technologies and ways to enhance the reliability of the electric grid, according to Lindsey Geisler, a department spokeswoman.
“There is no way that Canada can meet its targets for reducing global warming pollution while trying to expand production of the tar sands -- the dirtiest, most carbon intensive fuel on the planet,” Daniel Kessler, a spokesman for the group 350.org, which is leading the fight against the pipeline, said in an e-mail. “It’s like saying that you want to quit smoking while buying a cartons of unfiltered cigarettes.”
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