Canada ready to match US GHG reduction goals, Oliver says

Canada is prepared to coordinate meeting greenhouse gas reduction targets with the US, particularly from conventional and unconventional oil and gas production, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said following a meeting with US Sec. of Energy Ernest J. Moniz.

“We have the resources, technology, and will to deal with that, and we have assigned officials to look for ways we can cooperate,” Oliver said during a press conference at the Canadian Embassy.

He also refused to comment on reports that Prime Minister Stephen Harper suggested to US President Barack Obama in a letter last week that such cooperation might be tied to Obama administration approval of the proposed Keystone XL crude oil pipeline’s cross-border permit.

“Canada remains confident that Keystone XL will be judged on its merits, and those merits are considerable,” Oliver maintained. He said he discussed the project with Moniz, but realized the US official is not ultimately responsible for the decision although DOE might supply information if asked.

He said Alberta’s oil sands will be developed if the permit is not approved. “GHG emissions there are about 1/32 of emissions from US coal-fired power plants, and we’re working to reduce that amount,” Oliver said. “We don’t regard this as any kind of concessions, but as an objective to continue making environmental progress.”

The US imports more than 3 million b/d of crude oil and petroleum products from Canada, and Keystone XL’s permit approval would help the US meet future demand and strengthen the integrated North American pipeline system, the minister said.

Asked about the Canadian government’s responses to the July 6 accident when a freight train carrying Bakken crude to a refinery in eastern Canada derailed near Lac-Megantic and caused a fire killing 47 people, Oliver said the matter is being fully investigated to determine the best necessary regulatory reforms.

“Rail transportation of oil has been safe overall, and so has pipeline transportation,” he continued. “There are hundreds of thousands of pipelines interlacing North America, and they will continue to be the primary means of transporting crude oil. But rail’s role has grown. In any case, the Canadian government is committed to making certain that transportation of oil by any means is as safe as possible.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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