You can't be for Canada and against Keystone, Minister Joe Oliver says

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Americans, Mulcair adds, shouldn't buy Minister Oliver's tar sands sales pitch.

In an editorial published yesterday in the Globe and Mail, Oliver accused Mulcair of traveling "to a foreign capital to score cheap political points" and claimed the opposition leader's disapproval of the Keystone XL is against "Canada's national interest."

At yesterday's press conference, Oliver's 'for Keystone or against Canada' framework was challenged with the question, "Is it possible to stand up for Canada and be opposed to Keystone for environmental reasons?"

The answer for Oliver, in short, is no.

"I don't think [that position] is consistent with Canadian interests," he said, "because the environmental interest has been dealt with by the U.S. State Department in their 2000-page report...– an independent science-based report – which said very clearly that if Keystone doesn't go ahead the United States will be importing just as much crude and...the oil sands will be producing just as much crude. They further said the pipeline will be safer than typically constructed pipelines. And because of previous reasons it won't have any significant impact on greenhouse emissions and therefore presumptively on global warming."

"The two potential negatives have been removed and now what we're left with are the positives."

The U.S. State Department review of the Keystone XL, released on March 1, has recently come under scrutiny after researchers discovered the document was authored by two firms set to benefit from tar sands production. The draft review claimed the Keystone XL poses no significant environmental threat and "is unlikely to have a substantial impact" on the rate of tar sands expansion.

In his editorial Oliver wrote that Conservative support for the pipeline is grounded "in science and the facts."

During his tour in the U.S. Minister Oliver claimed "opponents are spreading false information about the oil sands, especially its impact on the environment."

"I'm here to give you the unvarnished goods – and to let you make up your own mind about the merits of Canadian oil for America," he said. "Canada is the environmentally responsible choice for the U.S. to meet its energy needs in oil for years to come."

In Ottawa yesterday, he continued his tour de force, up-selling Canada's environmental record: "our message is that Canada, in some really critical respects, is moving in lockstep with the U.S. We have the same overarching objective under the Copenhagen Accord to reduce our emissions by 17 percent from 2005 by 2020."

Although Canada is currently not situated to meet that goal with projected increases in tar sands extraction, which currently accounts for more than 10 percent of Canada's total greenhouse gas emissions.

Emissions from the tar sands have doubled since 1990 and are expected to double again by 2020. 

"What we're doing for the environment and what we're doing for the United States...that I don't think was widely known," Oliver said regarding his time spent in the U.S.

When it comes to the Keystone, he added, "I hope the United States will do the right thing."

"The advantages for the US are very strong...So I'm not anticipating a negative decision."

This article originally appeared on DeSmog Canada.

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