New Report Finds U.S. Demand for Canadian Oil and Gas Is Destroying Canadian Environment

OTTAWA (October 16, 2002) -- U.S. demand for fossil fuels is destroying Canadian air, land and water resources, according to a new report released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Sierra Club of Canada. Oil and gas production, driven by an insatiable demand south of the border, is threatening huge swaths of Canadian wilderness and marine areas, increasing greenhouse gas emissions, and exposing millions of Canadians in rural areas to dangerous air emissions.

The oil and gas industry's assault on the environment is not only legal under Canadian law, but is actively encouraged by government subsidies.

The report, America's Gas Tank: The High Cost of Canada's Oil and Gas Export Strategy, shows that Canada, not Saudi Arabia, is the single largest supplier of oil and gas to the United States. Over the past decade, Canadian oil production has increased by about 50 percent, and gas production by more than two-thirds. Today, about 60 percent of Canadian oil and gas is exported to the U.S. market.

"The United States is the world's biggest fossil fuel junkie, and Canada provides the largest foreign fix," said Matt Price, a research associate at NRDC. "The result? Ruined wilderness in Canada and massive greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. This is clearly a mutually destructive relationship."

NRDC and the Sierra Club are releasing their report in the middle of a heated debate in Canada on ratifying the international Kyoto agreement to reduce greenhouse gasses. The Canadian oil and gas industry has bankrolled a public relations campaign to reject Kyoto in favour of what it is calling a "Made in Canada" solution that would contain no greenhouse gas reduction targets.

"The industry's 'Made in Canada' spin is totally deceptive," said John Bennett, director of the Atmosphere and Energy program at the Sierra Club of Canada. "What's 'Made in Canada' is air pollution, environmental degradation, loss of habitat and biodiversity."

The report calls for Canada to aggressively adopt renewable energy sources, protect wilderness areas from fossil fuel exploitation, and pass tougher laws to limit pollution from the oil and gas industry.

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a non-profit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. For more than a decade, NRDC has taken an active role in protecting threatened natural resources in Canada, working in close cooperation with citizen groups and indigenous peoples. Founded in 1970, NRDC has more than 500,000 members.

The Sierra Club has been active in Canada since 1969. The Sierra Club of Canada's national office opened in Ottawa in 1989. Its mission is to develop a diverse, well-trained grassroots network working to protect the integrity of global ecosystems. The national office works closely with its chapters in British Columbia, the Praries, Eastern Canada, and Atlantic Canada.