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In another visit to the United States to promote the proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver met Monday with his United States counterpart, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, to propose a joint approach to greenhouse gas emissions and other technology initiatives in energy.
While light on specifics and heavy on niceties, it’s increasingly obvious something had to be done by Ottawa to rescue the Alberta-to-Texas pipeline from sliding yet again into President Obama’s too-hot-to-handle purgatory. The two countries remain far apart on the controversial project and a decision on a permit is now expected next spring.
On the one hand, it appears the White House is pushing Canada to adopt more stringent GHG targets for oil sands companies than Canada is prepared to do, the price for approving KXL so environmental organizations get their pound of flesh.
On the other, Canada believes it is finalizing GHG reduction targets for the oil and gas sector that enable it to meet its international climate-change commitments, plans to announce them by the end of the year, and wants extra efforts to come under a joint Canada/U.S. approach to avoid putting its oil and gas industry at a competitive disadvantage.
Here’s how one knowledgeable observer summed it up: the White House is aware of Canada’s pending regulations, believes they are not adequate to appease activists and believes it needs more to justify KXL approval; oil sands producers, meanwhile, have balked at tying KXL approval to more onerous GHG commitments and don’t trust the White House to honour a commitment anyway.
Oliver’s latest pitch exalts the advantage of a reasonable, common approach.
“The government of Canada wants to work with the U.S. administration on a wide range of environmental and energy issues, including collaborative efforts to reduce GHG emissions from the development of North American conventional and non-conventional oil and gas reserves,” he said to reporters in a conference call from the Canadian embassy.
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