Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

California gets the goods on tar sands

California gets the goods on oil sands
Alberta seeks ways to satisfy new fuel rules
Claudia Cattaneo, Financial Post Published: Thursday, July 10, 2008

CALGARY - A delegation from the federal and Alberta governments travelled to California this week to ensure its influential environmental regulator has all the facts about the oil sands before it moves forward with a low-carbon fuel standard that could discourage Canadian oil imports.

Officials from the federal departments of natural resources and the environment, and from Alberta's department of energy and intergovernmental affairs, met with the California Air Resources Board to find out more about the implications of the new fuel rules, part of a sweeping climate change action plan unveiled by the state two weeks ago.

During the mission on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Canadian group also met with the Western States Petroleum Association, which represents California oil producers, and legislative consultants.

"There are a whole host of questions that need to be answered," Bob McManus, a spokesman for Alberta Energy, said yesterday.

"What is the methodology to calculate the carbon content of the fuel -- is it just production, or is it production, refining and transportation to market?

"There are a lot of things that go into what is or what isn't a low-carbon fuel, so we need clarification on all those."

California should also take into account that Alberta has made a $2-billion investment, announced on Tuesday, in carbon capture and storage, a new technology that would perennially bury large quantities of greenhouse gases from large plants such as those in the oil sands, Mr. McManus said.

Alberta's commitment, funded by a burgeoning budget surplus due to high energy prices, is the largest made by any government to sequester carbon.

"We are pretty confident that when you come down to the facts and figures and the science, that we are going to be OK," Mr. McManus said. "We are going to be able to show that oil from Alberta is competitive from an environmental aspect with oil from anywhere in the world."

When first announced in 2006 by the Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, California's low-carbon fuel standard was the first in a growing series of U. S. policies, views and rhetoric aimed at impeding the development of Canada's oil sands because their extraction produces more greenhouse gases than other sources. Canadian producers are arguing, however, that total greenhouse gases are competitive with other crudes because Canadian oil is piped to the United States, rather than transported on tankers.

The U. S. federal government passed a law in December that bans federal procurement of alternative fuels that generate more greenhouse gases than conventional sources, which could include oil from the oil sands. Last month, U. S. big-city mayors singled out the oil sands as part of a crackdown on fuels that cause global warming, while presidential hopeful Barack Obama vowed to break America's addiction to "dirty, dwindling and expensive oil."

California's low-carbon fuel standard has not yet been completed, but it has been earmarked for early action under the plan and targeted for implementation by the end of this year.

The new law would require fuel distributors to sell higher and higher quantities of low-carbon fuels, discouraging them to purchase Canadian oil from the oil sands. Canadian oil sands producers would have to account for the greenhouse-gas emissions they are responsible for before selling into the California market.


Oilsandstruth.org is not associated with any other web site or organization. Please contact us regarding the use of any materials on this site.

Tar Sands Photo Albums by Project

Discussion Points on a Moratorium

User login


Syndicate content