Harper promotes oil sands and Keystone XL in New York

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Stephen Harper in New York with Council of Foreign Relations

Stephen Harper may not have worn his cowboy hat as he spoke to America’s foremost think-tank in New York on Thursday, but he still had Alberta written all over him.

Harper participated in a question and answer session with the Council on Foreign Relations. He spoke broadly about how Canada escaped unscathed from the financial crisis, and how it was trying to grow Canada's economy.

He then began talking about the oil sands and the Keystone XL pipeline, noting that despite real environmental concerns, the oil sands' impact was "almost nothing" from a global perspective.

Harper noted that the “only real immediate environmental issue here" is whether to increase the flow of oil from Canada via pipeline or via rail, and said if the pipeline option is rejected, it will end up being rail, which poses more environmental challenges. 

He said the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline is still under regulatory process, and that "vigorous regulatory systems" are in place to examine environmental and economic issues around the oil sands. 

"We share the Copenhagen targets with the United States. We have the same targets and obviously constraining emissions in the oil sands is going to be important.  We’ve had a 25 percent reduction over the past decade or so in emission intensity out of the oil sands" said Harper.

Harper admitted Canada is grappling with the oil sands emissions issue, but claimed it's no worse than some other countries.

“The truth of the matter is heavy oil out of the oil sands, yes there are still emissions issues, but no more so than heavy crudes in other parts of the world, including Venezuela.”

He pointed out 40,000 US jobs are tied to the Keystone XL project, and says he "doesn't believe North America can afford to turn down" large oil sands projects such as Keystone XL. 

Asked by an audience member about Canada's pulling back from the Kyoto protocol and "nuanced" stance on climate change, Harper criticized the agreement for not including major polluters like China, and stressed the need for better technology to tackle carbon emissions. "That (technology) is what will allow us to square economic growth with climate change," he commented.

Taking a jab at environmental activists, he said "standing on a street corner and yelling" won't solve climate change, and that agreements such as Kyoto will "keep failing" until people realize that the issue needs a "serious" and "holistic" approach that takes national interests into account.

During the talk, which covered a wide range of issues, including Syria (he noted that "arming unnamed people" fighting the Assad regime is "extremely risky"), he stressed that Canada's economic growth potential is tied to its resource economy. 

Bad press for Canada's oil sands

New York hasn’t been much of a friend on that last issue. This is a town where its most influential newspaper, the New York Times, wrote an editorial on April 2, 2011 headlined “No to New Tar Sands Pipeline”. Six weeks ago it ran an Op-Ed piece headlined “The Tar Sands Disaster” and another Op Ed piece last week, “Game Over for the Climate”, slamming Canada for the Alberta tar sands.  Canada has been getting a lot of press in the Big Apple recently – but most of it is rotten.

And a new ominous milestone reached with the Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reporting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has, for the first time, reached a high average daily level above 400 parts per million, this bad press might just get worse. 

Stephen Harper is the latest in a number of high ranking ministers to visit key US centers to counter that image, and promote Canada – and Alberta crude. 

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Comments

A climate crisis would be a comet hit of an emergency so why not say it is? If the scientists themselves really believed it was a real crisis they would have said it was as real as an eventual comet hit but they refuse to say it. Not one single IPCC warning says it will happen only might happen, so 28 years of “maybe” proves it won’t be an actual crisis. How close to unstoppable warming will the scientists take us before they say their crisis is as real as they like to say comet hits are? Science didn’t commit a fraud, you lazy copy and paste news editors did by exaggerating what consensus was; “Climate change is real and is happening and COULD cause unstoppable warming.” Never did science ever say it “WILL” happen, only could.

Thank You Mr Harper

Mr Harper, I want to thank you for staying true to the need for consistent leadership on the topic of Canada's important energy industry. As a research scientist in this industry I know all too well how the taxation and royalty revenue from myself and my company is critical in Canadian Governments ability to provide social support systems. For example, our family paid over $90k in taxes in 2012 - well above the average of $20k per family.

As an energy conversion expert, I also know that other than hydroelectric, there is no renewable energy production technology that is affordable or capable of providing the meaningful amounts on an annual basis.

I only wished that "climate change" environmentalists would put their efforts to better use by becoming scientists and engineers and come up with innovative solutions rather than just protest. Regardless of whether man-made GHG emissions will alter our climate, eventually the climate will change and threaten our civilization. We desperately need energy and agricultural production technologies that are able to free of our susceptability - dependence on climate. Unforunately, renewables are 100% dependent on climate and that scares me.

 

Gratefully

A dangerous trio ...

Harper, Kent, and Oliver appear to be as dumb as dust about this issue. Our environment may seem local but it is actually global. Taking the tar sands out of the ground in ever increasing amounts will not cause climate change or global warming. NO, NO, NO. It will not. It is only when you burn the awful stuff that the problems begin. As British Petroleum said in their 2013 Energy Bulletin: This is how much oil we have. If you burn it all, you will roast the planet. Well folks, don't leave it to the dumb as dust buddies to act on your behalf - speak up for your planet or suffer the consequences.

Climate Change

Even the Prime Minister is acknowledging the supposed 'danger' from carbon dioxide, this much-maligned wonder of life. Where will the madness end? It's seriously disconcerting watching supposedly-intelligent university professors acting like Chicken Little's; even more so when the 'evidence' for their hysteria is so shallow. 

It's one thing to present an hypothesis; quite another when, after 40 years, the planet's temperature is behaving in an opposite fashion to the hypothesis. Sixteen years of no atmospheric warming -- from satellite measurements, not the faulty and unrepresentative land devices -- leaves the theory in tatters, although excuses will continue to be made by this worldwide, billion-dollar, taxpayer-funded industry, in order to keep the money coming.

I would also point out that, while we constantly state that the oil industry, for instance, can't be trusted, because they make their living on one side of the debate, we never point out the same for people like Mr. Bennett, who has been making his living for years with a totally one-sided viwepoint on this subject. Somehow, his bias and self-interest is never brought up...

P.S. I don't mean anything personally about Mr. Bennett -- he's actually a wonderful fellow. I simply wanted to point out that journalists are not being 'professional' when you only impugn the motives of one side of a debate -- you become 'propagandists'...

 

TAR Sands, not oil sands

I refuse to use an ESSO CEO's euphemism for the TAR Sands.  Let's see it for what it is.  I have photos, for the doubting Thomases.  We have embarked on a stupid and ill-considered course to extinction.   First, we have overpopulated the planet with humans way beyond the land's ability to provide, and at the expense of other species and the environment we all have to share. There can be no such thing as economic growth forever on a finite planet.  We cannot create wealth.  All the wealth that ever there was or will be was already there before the first self-centred insentient capitalist stalked the land taking more than his share from other people, other critters and the planet we all share, and call it a "profit".  We're on a ponzi scheme economic system which will kill all life (other than maybe archbacteria) eventually, but we'll have a ton of wars and misery first, so that the eventual annihilation will feel like relief.