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MacDonald: A few inconvenient oilpatch truths for Al Gore
Calgary Herald ^ | MAY 8, 2013 | L. IAN MACDONALD

Posted on 05/13/2013 5:04:37 AM PDT by thackney

In an interview with the Globe and Mail, former U.S. vice-president Al Gore referred to Canada’s oil and gas riches as a “resource curse” and said the Alberta oilsands add “to the reckless spewing of pollution into the Earth’s atmosphere as if it’s an open sewer.”

Gore speaks as winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for his efforts to educate the world on climate change. This would be the same Al Gore who recently sold his cable TV network, Current, to al Jazeera for $500 million. Al Jazeera, of course, would be the same network owned by Qatar, where they produce and export oil.

As an environmentalist, Gore is undoubtedly aware that the greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired electricity stations in the U.S. are 40 times those from the Canadian oilsands. As for Europe, according to Natural Resources Canada, emissions from electrical installations are nearly 30 times those of the oilsands. This is, for Gore, an inconvenient truth.

According to Energy Alberta, the oilsands are responsible for only 6.8 per cent of emissions in Canada, and only 0.15 per cent of emissions worldwide.

There’s no doubt that extracting bitumen takes an environmental toll, but it’s also true that industry is doing a better job on issues like water and land reclamation. Alberta also monitors the intensity of emissions, and industry is doing a better job there, too, through R&D and new technology.

As Premier Alison Redford notes in an interview to be published by Policy magazine: “When you’re having a climate-change discussion and you’re talking about emissions, we know that what industry is doing right now is reducing the intensity of emissions with respect to production on a per-barrel basis.”

But as she notes, while intensity is decreasing, production is increasing to meet demand, “therefore, you don’t always see a net reduction in the emissions, even though, based on intensity, there is a reduction.”

And as Joe Nocera observed in his New York Times column: “Extraction technology has improved to the point where there is almost no difference, in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, between sands oil and old-fashioned oil drilling. The government insists that companies extracting the oil return the land to its original state when the mining is completed. Indeed, for all the hysteria over the environmental consequences of the oilsands, there is oil in California that is actually dirtier than the oil from the sands.”

That would be California, home to Hollywood celebrity eco-activists, where Al Gore also has a residence.

All in, the U.S. accounts for 22 per cent of global GHG emissions, according to Natural Resources Canada, while Canada is responsible for two per cent. The U.S. population is nine times that of Canada, while its GHG emissions are 11 times higher than ours. And Canada is a much colder country, with higher home-heating requirements.

Everyone understands that the environmental movement in the U.S. is using the oilsands and Keystone XL pipeline project as leverage for a larger conversation on climate change.

And in politics, you have to make the usual allowances for hypocrisy. But there are limits, especially from advocates like Gore, who has been on this file since before he invented the Internet, and should know better than to accuse Canada of treating the atmosphere like an open sewer. Not only is it insulting, it’s untrue.

Nor do these activists take account of the importance of energy exports to the Canadian economy, the importance of Canadian energy imports to the U.S. economy, and the political importance of Keystone to the relationship between the two principals on the file — the president and the prime minister.

Energy is now far and away the largest segment of Canadian exports, and the U.S. accounts for more than 99 per cent of our exports of oil and gas. Since 1992, according to BMO Economics, Canada’s oil and gas exports to the U.S. have increased from $17 billion to $102 billion, from 11 per cent of Canada’s world exports to 22 per cent.

As U.S. Ambassador David Jacobson has himself said: “Canada is the largest supplier of every form of energy to the United States.”

As he noted, Canada supplies the U.S. with 100 per cent of its imported electricity, 85 per cent of its natural gas imports, and 27 per cent of its oil imports — more than twice as much as the 12 per cent of U.S. oil imports supplied by Saudi Arabia.

Moreover, in the energy chapter of the Free Trade Agreement, we guaranteed the Americans security of supply in return for security of access. It’s the considered view of Brian Mulroney, the father of free trade, and Derek Burney, who negotiated it, that the U.S. is violating the spirit if not the letter of the agreement in delaying approval of Keystone.

Or as Redford puts it in her forthcoming magazine interview: “It’s quite clear that we promised to be good suppliers if they promised to be good customers.”

TOPICS: Canada; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: energy; oil; oilsands

1 posted on 05/13/2013 5:04:37 AM PDT by thackney
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To: thackney
reckless spewing

Funny, that's how I'd describe Al Gore's speeches and writings.

2 posted on 05/13/2013 5:55:46 AM PDT by LoveUSA (God employs Man's strength; Satan exploits Man's weakness.)
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To: LoveUSA

Hello kettle! Reckless spewing at it’s finest. He’s good, but he doesn’t have the market cornered in that regard. Well maybe on that topic. Of course princess charles spews pretty well too and is just as nutty.

3 posted on 05/13/2013 6:07:45 AM PDT by rktman (BACKGROUND CHECKS? YOU FIRST mr. president(not that we'd get the truth!))
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