All the Single Ladies! China's Fetish For Canada's Tar Sands

All the Single Ladies! China's Fetish For Canada's Tar Sands
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In 2007, when President Obama proposed a carbon tax on imported Canadian tar sands oil, the Canadian oil lobby and the Conservative government threatened to start sending their crude overseas to countries like Russia and China with weaker environmental standards.

A big problem with this plan is that currently there is no way to actually move tar sands oil onto a tanker and ship it overseas. So the threat posed against the United States by Canada’s pro-tar sands lobby was, and continues to be, an empty one.

This is why it is so important that we stop any and all ability for tar sands oil to be pumped off our coasts and sent to overseas export markets.

Whether that be via the Northern Gateway pipeline, Kinder Morgan or whatever other creative ways the oil lobby comes up with to diversify the tar sands oil market.

But countries like China who are struggling to keep up with their own explosive economic growth are desperate for new sources of oil and will happily take tar sands oil from Canada without a thought about things like climate change and toxic water pollution.

Earlier this week, Chen Weidong, a top Chinese oil academic warned the Canadian oil lobby that the Canadian tar sands are being left behind by the global energy industry. China is frustrated that they cannot access Canada tar sands and they have been for years.

In completely politically incorrect fashion, Weidong told a gathering of Canadian government and industry officials that:

“It’s the same situation as the leftover single women… It will be the same for the oil sands, they will be outdated just like unmarried single women.”

Wow.

Aside from being totally awkward [Check out Gillian McEachern’s parody online dating profile at Environmental Defence Canada mocking this insanity], this threat from China is an empty one given that the tar sands do not have some expiry date that makes them undesirable. Twenty years from now China will still be yearning for tar sands oil. That is, of course, if Canada in twenty years still has no way to put tar sands oil onto a tanker off the west coast and ship it overseas.

The minute tar sands oil can be pumped off Canada’s west coast and sent to markets outside of the United States any leverage opponents of the tar sands have is gone. The Canadian government’s threat of sending oil elsewhere becomes real.

As long as the United States remains the only customer for the tar sands, the US government can propose and likely pass strict regulations on oil made from the carbon intensive and environmenally destructive tar sands operations.

In the United States, with President Obama re-elected for a second term there is renewed hope that we will see strong US government global warming pollution regulations enacted and this will likely include a tax on tar sands oil imported from Canada.

If this happens it will do one of two things: 1) slow down expansion of Canada’s tar sands oil production over the long term, or (2) see the Canadian oil lobby (which includes Canada’s ruling Conservative party) double down on their efforts to lay pipe out to Canada’s west coast.

If the latter happens and markets like China and Russia come into play, I hate to say it, but we’re screwed.
 

All the Single Ladies! China's Fetish For Canada's Tar Sands

Kevin is a contributor and strategic adviser to DeSmogBlog.

He runs the digital marketing agency Spake Media House. Named a “Green Hero” by Rolling Stone Magazine and one of the “Top 50 Tweeters” on climate change and environment issues, Kevin has appeared in major news media outlets around the world for his work on digital campaigning.

Kevin has been involved in the public policy arena in both the United States and Canada for more than a decade. For five years he was the managing editor of DeSmogBlog.com. In this role, Kevin’s research into the “climate denial industry” and the right-wing think tank networks was featured in news media articles around the world. He is most well known for his ground-breaking research into David and Charles Koch’s massive financial investments in the Republican and tea party networks.

Kevin is the first person to be designated a “Certified Expert” on the political and community organizing platform NationBuilder.

Prior to DeSmogBlog, Kevin worked in various political and government roles. He was Senior Advisor to the Minister of State for Multiculturalism and a Special Assistant to the Minister of State for Asia Pacific, Foreign Affairs for the Government of Canada. Kevin also worked in various roles in the British Columbia provincial government in the Office of the Premier and the Ministry of Health.

In 2008 Kevin co-founded a groundbreaking new online election tool called Vote for Environment which was later nominated for a World Summit Award in recognition of the world’s best e-Content and innovative ICT applications.

Kevin moved to Washington, DC in 2010 where he worked for two years as the Director of Online Strategy for Greenpeace USA and has since returned to his hometown of Vancouver, Canada.

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