Thursday, May 28, 2009

Report from U.S. CFR contends claims of oil sands pollution overstated

NEW YORK - A new report from the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) – “The Canadian Oil Sands: Energy Security vs. Climate Change” - contends that prudent greenhouse gas regulations can limit emissions from Canadian oil sands while still enabling development of the energy resource.
The report argues that oil sands production delivers both energy security benefits and climate change damages, but warns that both are often overstated. “For the near future, the economic and security value of oil sands expansion will likely outweigh the climate damages that the oil sands create,” it says, “but climate concerns cannot and must not be ignored, and will become more important over time.”
Policymakers, the report warns, must carefully balance the two concerns.
Smart regulation can place a fair and reasonable price on the oil sands’ greenhouse gas emissions, providing the right incentive to reduce them, but ill-conceived regulation could undermine U.S. and Canadian climate and security goals.
Michael A. Levi, CFR’s David M. Rubenstein senior fellow for energy and the environment, and the report’s author, argues that it is important to integrate U.S. and Canadian cap-and-trade systems, while warning against the risks of a Canada-only cap-and-trade scheme and against an ill-designed U.S. low-carbon fuel standard.
In the contentious debate about oil sands, some argue that the U.S. should discourage the development of oil sands because its operations generate more climate-damaging greenhouse gas emissions than conventional oil production. Others argue that the U.S. should actively encourage their development because it would strengthen U.S. energy security with a supply of oil from a friendly and stable neighbor.

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