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July 21, 2011

Canadian Oil Money Seeks to Decide U.S. Energy Future

Tar sands Yesterday, a meeting of Canadian federal and provincial environment ministers that discussed a national energy strategy wrapped up.

Normally, this might not be something that would catch our attention here in DC. However, part of the conclusion from that meeting was that Canada is looking to the United States as the market for their dirty energy. The federal natural resources minister repeatedly voiced his support for Keystone XL and the Northern Gateway pipelines to carry dirty tar sands oil to the U.S. and Asia respectively.

This comes at a time when the debate over Keystone XL has heated up on Capitol Hill and 265,000 Americans of all different backgrounds have taken the time to denounce this pipeline in communications to the State Department.

Just like the days when the Texan oil interests had a stranglehold on the White House, Canada's current Prime Minister hails from the oil fields of Canada, and big oil companies seem to have bought their way at this week's meeting. Based on the media statements made, you could easily have walked away with the impression that all of Canada is united behind the expansion of tar sands and new tar sands pipelines.

But, as we've experienced repeatedly here with laggard and leader states when it comes to clean energy and climate change, Canada is not a united pro-tar sands front as the oil industry would have us believe. Ontario, the most populous province, decided that it wasn't fitting for a green energy leader to stick its head in the tar sands with the rest of the provinces. Instead, it refused to sign the communiqué and its Premier is now pushing the federal government to show more support for clean energy.

This is more evidence that US decision-makers shouldn't believe the spin from the Harper government that Keystone XL has the backing of Canadians. From Ontario to First Nations leaders to unions, Canadians are speaking out with concern about the mistaken energy strategy of the current government.

For the first time in history we have the technology and the know-how to move beyond oil and cut our addiction to toxic fossil fuels. America is a land of innovators not of importers. Instead of permitting the dangerous Keystone XL, Americans should be investing clean energy solutions that will create jobs in Detroit, reinvigorate our laboratories in Silicon Valley, and provide the healthy future our children deserve. America needs to keep its eye on the prize and give a rowdy hell no to Canadian tar sands.

-- Kate Colarulli of the Sierra Club Beyond Oil Campaign

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