Environmental groups target Canadian oil sands ahead of Pelosi meeting

U.S. environmental groups are highlighting their objections to importing Canadian tar sands-based oil as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) meets Wednesday evening with Canadian officials on the topic.

In a letter to Pelosi and House Energy Independence and Global Warming Select Committee Chairman Edward Markey (D-Calif.) Wednesday, the groups say there are “very serious consequences” regarding U.S. reliance on Canadian tar-sands oil and that it is “an obstacle to developing clean and sustainable energy systems in our countries.”
 

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Pelosi and Markey are holding a dinner meeting Wednesday with Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach and other Canadian officials about Alberta’s oil-sands production and other energy and environmental issues affecting the U.S. and Canada. 
 
The environmental groups — including Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation and Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection — are battling the proposed TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline that would send oil from Alberta to Texas.

“We are opposed to the building of this pipeline, as it would lock us into decades of consumption of one of the most environmentally destructive forms of oil in the world and would undermine the U.S. transition to a new energy economy,” the groups wrote.
 
They also argue that the energy security benefits from using the Canadian oil are exaggerated.

“Tar sands oil does not undermine the power of OPEC, does not provide spare capacity in times of shortage due to natural disasters or armed conflict, and does not lower prices (in fact, it is the most expensive oil in the world),” the groups contend. “Keystone XL and the associated increase in tar sands production would be both a cause and a symptom of a failure to address climate change and to reduce oil consumption. These failures would make us less secure, as they would lead to conflict and economic risk.”
 
Stelmach on Tuesday told reporters he plans to appeal to Pelosi’s “sense of reason” when the two meet.

This, he said, includes having “an opportunity to sit down with Ms. Pelosi and talk about what has been accomplished with the oil sands and how we’re going to overcome any of the environmental challenges that come with any natural-resource extraction.”
 
He added, “There are risks, and we want to talk about the policies that we have in place” to safeguard air and water quality and monitor adverse environmental effects.
 
He also said he will make the arguments that oil-sands development creates jobs both in Canada and the U.S. and strengthens the energy security of the U.S., and that proceeds from the development help health and education programs in Alberta and across Canada.