EU EXPERTS FAIL TO AGREE ON PROPOSAL TO CALL OIL SANDS "DIRTY"

02/27/2012

A European Union committee of technical experts failed to agree to a proposal to label oil sands fuel as more polluting than other fuel sources. The committee, which met last week, was tasked with determining whether oil sands should be labeled as "dirty" under the Fuel Quality Directive, which is designed to cut the carbon intensity of transport fuels by 6 percent by 2020. Such a label would make oil sands more costly to import, a measure Canada has called unjustified and discriminatory. Canada made it clear it would take trade action if the proposal went ahead. "We're not going to hesitate to defend our interests," said Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver. In the past, Canada has stressed it would go to the World Trade Organization if necessary. Last week, a memorandum prepared for the Canadian government's top bureaucrat said that damage from oil sands may be posing a "significant environmental and financial risk to the province of Alberta." The memorandum, released by the Privy Council Office, questions company claims of reduced greenhouse gas emissions: "While the industry has taken steps to reduce emissions, the shift from mining to in-situ production, which is almost three times as emissions intensive as mining, is resulting in a continued acceleration of emissions from this sector." Meanwhile, "[t]he industry's approach to tailings has been widely criticized, including in a recent Royal Society of Canada report, as representing a significant environmental and financial risk to the province of Alberta." For the story on the committee, see http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/23/us-eu-tarsands-idUSTRE81M1GP20120223. For the story on the memorandum, see http://www.canada.com/life/green-guide/Oilsands+pose+significant+environmental+financial+risk+Alberta+says/6180384/story.html.