Let’s start with some basic facts about Canada’s contribution’s to the U.S. economy From the Energy Information Administration background sheet:
In 2006, Canada produced 19.3 quadrillion British Thermal Units (Btu) of total energy, the fifth-largest amount in the world. Since 1980, Canada’s total energy production has increased by 87 percent, while its total energy consumption has increased by only 44 percent. Almost all of Canada’s energy exports go to the United States, making it the largest source of U.S. energy imports. Canada is consistently among the top sources for U.S. oil imports, and it is the largest source of U.S. natural gas and electricity imports. Recognizing the importance of the energy trade between the two countries, both participate in the North American Energy Working Group, which seeks to improve energy integration and cooperation between Canada, the U.S., and Mexico.
Our emphasis. As an ally, free country, and dependable energy supplier, Canada is an essential contributor of U.S. energy security.
Some groups are dedicated to crippling that energy production — and U.S. energy use — by demonizing petroleum produced from the Alberta oil sands. And, by making oil sands a bete noire, they hope to prevent development of similar U.S. energy resources such as shale oil. The anti-energy, anti-growth agenda will be on display this week when Canada’s prime minister, Stephen Harper, comes to Washington, D.C., for a meeting with President Obama.
From The Globe and Mail, “Oil sands under attack on environment“:
The environmental battle over Alberta’s oil sands is going global, forcing the industry to respond to new attacks on its record and putting fresh pressure on Ottawa.
The Calgary-based industry is accustomed to defending its image in North America, but it now faces a multifront war. That growing global opposition is highlighted by its role in today’s federal election in Norway, where the state-owned oil company’s plans for the oil sands have sparked controversy.
As well, a documentary that premiered in Switzerland and is now playing at the Toronto International Film Festival depicts the projects’ devastating environmental impact; and a delegation of Chinese journalists is planning a visit to the scarred landscape of northeastern Alberta.
At the same time, U.S. activists are continuing their attacks in Washington, scheduling a news conference this week ahead of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s visit with President Barack Obama to highlight the dramatic increase in emissions that would occur if oil sands production is expanded as planned.
Along with tendentious documentaries, the latest tactic for attacking Canadian oil is the low-carbon fuel standard, which we wrote about here and here. As the industry alliance, Secure Our Fuels, explains, the standard attempts to shut out the U.S. No. 1 foreign supplier of energy:
Under an LCFS, if the oil isn’t “Jed Clampett” ready – that is, able to be produced without much time, talent or effort – it isn’t a form that’s treated kindly. And since so much of Canada’s oil resources are classified as “heavy,” very little of it will be eligible for shipment to U.S. markets – forcing American consumers to contract with foreign, unstable suppliers half-a-world away instead.
Exactly right. U.S. economic growth, our national prosperity, is going to require the use of petroleum for many decades to come. Putting one dependable supplier, Canada, off limits will raise the cost of energy, slow domestic economic growth, and at the same time make the U.S. more reliant on less secure suppliers like Venezuela and Middle Eastern countries. The opponents of Albertan oil sands know all this, and they mostly don’t care.