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U.S. Officials to Tour Dirty Oil

Posted by mhudema on July 2, 2008

U.S. officials to tour oilsands

UPDATED: 2008-07-01 04:07:10 MST

Congressmen will see oil production first hand

By MARKUS ERMISCH, SUN MEDIA

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In what is billed a congressional investigative trip, two U.S. lawmakers will get a bird’s-eye view of Alberta’s oilsands today, a region which has lately been denigrated by mayors south of the border as well as Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama’s campaign.

But despite the recent spate of criticism, the two Democratic congressmen told the Sun crude from Alberta’s oilsands is vital to the energy security of their country.

“It’s critically important,” said Rick Boucher, a congressmen from Virginia who also chairs the subcommittee on energy and air quality. “We need that oil and we’re going to take whatever steps are necessary to make cure that we continue to have access to it.”

Boucher and Florida congressman Tim Mahoney were in Saskatchewan yesterday to visit the Weyburn carbon dioxide sequestration project. Today, they are touring the Alberta oilsands and meeting industry representatives in Calgary.

The visit comes during a month in which U.S. mayors endorsed a resolution to restrict city fleets from using fuel derived from oilsands crude and less than a week after Jason Grumet, an Obama energy adviser, warned an Obama administration would curtail oil derived from unconventional sources, unless they meet low-emission standards.


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Boucher, however, cautioned not to place too much stock in such comments.

“I would not put too much credibility this early on in any statements that advisers to any of the candidates may be making about policy beginning in January of next year,” he said about comments Grumet made last week.

As far as the mayors’ resolution is concerned, he said it’s nearly impossible for a municipality to enforce such fuel standards as most fuel uses crude from several different sources.

“It ignores the reality of how petroleum is imported and marketed throughout the United States,” he said.

What’s more important is a proposed amendment to the Energy Independence and Security Act, legislation which may prohibit the U.S. government from using fuel derived from the oilsands.

As it is currently worded, the act could be “broadly interpreted” to restrict the U.S. government from using oilsands-derived fuel, Mahoney said.

The amendment, spearheaded by Mahoney, would clarify the wording of the act as it relates to Alberta’s oilsands.

“I can tell you that as a matter of national security it is of vital importance that our government has access to all oil and gas products of Canada without any barriers or prohibitions,” he said.

Such comments are welcome news to the Alberta government.

“We want to convey the message that we are a secure supplier, reliable and that we develop our resources in the most environmentally progressive way possible, using the cleanest technologies available,” said Gary Mar, Alberta’s representative in Washington, D.C.

Mar accompanied the U.S. politicians on their two-day tour, saying the trip “is part of an ongoing advocacy role through this office.”

While in Canada, Boucher and Mahoney also met with federal Industry Minister Jim Prentice and representatives of the Alberta and Saskatchewan provincial governments.

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