U.S. Mayors Urge Boycott of Alberta, Canada Oil

June 25, 2008

Oil WellAt a time when the availability and cost of long-term oil supplies for America are in question and as worldwide demand for oil increases from countries such as India and China, U.S. mayors at the annual United States Conference of Mayors convention in Miami, Florida this week passed a resolution calling on major cities to ban gasoline derived from the “dirty tar sands” of Alberta, Canada. The ban would mean that municipal vehicles in the States wouldn’t be fueled with gasoline produced from Alberta oil. The resolution has annoyed Albertans, who could probably just as easily pump the oil into the TransCanada pipeline and send it west to Vancouver…for export to Asia and India.

 

Calgary Mayor Dave BronconnierIn a green moment, the mayors cited global warming as the cause for their concern, saying that oil from Alberta oil sands produces three times as much carbon dioxide as does conventionally produced oil. The resolution also claims that Canada’s boreal forest is damaged by oil sands development (? since when do Americans care about Canada’s boreal forest ?), and that reliance on oil sands-derived gasoline hampers U.S. transition to cleaner energy sources. Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier said that while greenhouse gas reduction is important, “it requires a comprehensive, thoughtful and realistic approach. This resolution suggests a lack of understanding.” According to the Calgary Herald, “Bronconnier suggested his counterparts in the U.S. should focus more attention on the need to promote energy efficiency, conservation and the adoption of new ‘green’ technologies. He was quoted in the Edmonton Sun as saying: “We can pass all the ‘feel-good’ resolutions that we want, but the reality of the situation is that production from the oilsands [sic] is necessary.”

Iris Evans, Alberta Finance Minister, said the resolution shows a lack of understanding about Alberta oil production techniques, commenting: “It offends me deeply to hear people say dirty oil.” Calgary Mayor Bronconnier invited the mayors to visit the province to learn more about Alberta’s oil industry. Canadian Association of Oil Producers spokesman Pierre Alvarez said the resolution would be difficult, if not impossible, to enforce, as it’s not possible to trace fuel back to the original oil source.

Mel Knight, Energy Minister of Alberta, CanadaCanada has 15 percent of world oil reserves — second only to Saudi Arabia — most of which is in northeast Alberta. The country is also one of only a few in the world which can significantly increase production. Last week, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers said that Canada’s oil production will almost double, to 4.5 million barrels a day, by 2020. And more than $100 billion has been invested to triple oil sands production over the next seven years. The oilsands now yield about one million barrels a day.

 

While increased oil sands production will mean increased emissions, Alberta’s energy minister, Mel Knight, will soon announce additional carbon capture and storage technology designed to curb emissions. According to The Canadian Press, Alberta has lowered per-barrel emissions by 45 percent, and was the first province to issue fines for exceeding emissions. Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach said: “We’re doing cumulative environmental impact assessments both in the oil sands and also in the industrial heartland. We’re the only jurisdiction in Canada to put forward a land-use framework and also our water-for-life strategy is well ahead of many jurisdictions in North America.”

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