No, Minister Oliver, the oil sands have not become ‘green’ – by Tzeporah Berman (Globe and Mail – March 8, 2013)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

Many Canadians must have wondered if George Orwell was alive and well this week as they read that the Alberta oil sands were being pitched to U.S. officials as “green” by Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver.

“Canada is the environmentally responsible choice for the U.S. to meet its energy needs in oil for years to come,” the minister told an audience in Chicago – a message he repeated over and over in his U.S. tour, part of a calculated mission to associate Alberta bitumen with ecological benefits.

At a time when climate scientists are urgently telling us to significantly scale back the burning of fossil fuels, having a minister promote exactly the opposite really does feel like being told that two plus two equals five.

Yet this is what we’ve come to expect from our federal government, which, as documents released this week through an Access to Information request revealed, has “aligned” its interests with the pipeline industry instead of with the voters who elected it. And Joe Oliver has emerged as the most prominent spokesman for this alignment.

It was Mr. Oliver who, a year ago, opened an offensive by trying to label those opposed to the Enbridge Gateway pipeline proposal as “radicals,” ignoring the deep public opposition to the project.

It was Mr. Oliver who stood on a podium with the Alberta energy minister to pitch a fossil fuel-driven national energy strategy based on data that would vastly increase emissions and contribute dramatically to rising atmospheric temperatures.

It was Mr. Oliver who claimed that the massive and growing toxic tailings ponds will be so clean “you’ll be able to drink from them,” while more secret documents recently released confirmed they are currently leaking more and more toxins into the Alberta environment every day.

And now it is Mr. Oliver who this week is lobbying hard in the U.S. for the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would export oil sands bitumen to the U.S. Gulf. His pitch is built on the argument that the pipeline would be filled with a product that is, ecologically, not much worse than the worst oil in the world.

For the rest of this article, please go to the Globe and Mail website: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/no-minister-oliver-the-oil-sands-have-not-become-green/article9503879/%3bjsessionid=16pGR6vQYQNvGlnnDBTdFNWyZLz1GkQ9TbVRnZbX26TgGvQfGJp8!669060034/?ord=1

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