Obama Expected to Bring a Clean Energy Message to Canada

WASHINGTON (February 18, 2009)—As President Obama prepares for his first international trip to Ottawa, Canada, on Thursday, it’s expected that there will be a significant focus on energy and environmental issues.  
In the United States, President Obama has emphasized the need to transform America to a clean energy economy. The stimulus package signed into law yesterday has record spending for renewable energy and energy efficiency. Mr. Obama has asked EPA to review the California waiver to regulate tailpipe emissions from cars and trucks. And he has been a long supporter of a low-carbon fuel standard, similar to the one in place in California.
By contrast, Prime Minister Harper and the Canadian government have lagged on clean energy by expanding investment in fossil fuels. At the core of this issue is Alberta’s reliance on its controversial tar sands industry, which has been criticized for its environmental impacts on the Boreal forest and its significant output of global warming pollution. On the eve of this visit, tar sands may prove to be a sticky issue between Washington and Ottawa.
Following is a statement by Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, Director of the Canada Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council:
“In his words and actions, President Obama has sent a clear message that United States will be pursuing a clean energy future. Tar sands has no place in this future.
"So far, the Canadian government has missed the opportunity to move to clean energy by catering to the interests of Big Oil. Tar sands create three times the carbon pollution as conventional oil, which is not a viable alternative, no matter how the Canadian government and oil industry portray it.
"The real problem is the expansion of tar sands that has occurred over recent years and shows no sign of letting up. Any exemption or special protection under greenhouse gas regulations is at odds with the commitment by both countries to fight global warming. According to the Canadian government’s task force, capture-and-storage technology on tar sands won’t mitigate the worst impacts on the climate. In addition, this technology would do nothing to prevent the severe damage to the Boreal forest.
"NRDC's analysis shows that we can reduce our reliance on foreign oil, including Canadian tar sands oil, with measures that are already supported by the President.  
"As the planet edges toward a climate disaster, the global warming costs, along with the environmental and public health impacts, make tar sands unacceptable, especially when we need to pursue clean energy sources – like wind and solar—and increase our energy efficiency.
"The United States and Canada need to work together— and with the rest of the international community— to forge a new path on energy that offers true security to our economy, our environment, and our climate.”