European Union brands Canada’s tar sands as ‘dirty’

The European Union has branded Canada’s oil sands as ‘dirty.’ Canada plans to appeal to the World Trade Organization (WTO) claiming that the European Union’s decision would be discrimination against Canadian exports. 

The main issue the European Commission has found with Canadian tar pits is the way in which the oil is extracted; they have determined that it causes an immense amount of pollution.  This wouldn’t be the first time the Alberta tar pits have been a contentious issue to environmentalists domestically, however it is the first Canada is being called out on an international level with the possibility of damaging economic consequences. 

With Canada on the defensive and desperately wanting to expand its sale of natural resources to nations other than the United States, Natural resources minister Joe Oliver is not taking the European Union’s allegations lightly. 

"We are going to take whatever action we need to, and we may well go to the WTO, We will defend our interests vigorously."  Said, Oliver in a news conference discussed by Robin Emmot in the May 8th article for Yahoo Finance.  

Are any of the European Union’s concerns valid? Environmental group; The Sierra Club of Canada’s website discusses their findings on the Alberta tar sands. 

“ Tar sands development is the single largest contributor, and fastest growing source of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions To produce one barrel of oil, 4 tonnes of material are mined, 2-5 barrels of water are used to extract the bitumen, and enough natural gas to heat 1.5 homes for a day is used.”

The Prime Minister has responded to these allegations by seemingly ignoring the possible environmental impacts, and focussing purely on the possible financial gains from the industry.  In Steve Chase’s January 7th 2011 article for the Globe and Mail, Harper reaffirmed his position.   

"The oil sands are a very important resource for our country, it's a source of economic growth and jobs across the country.”  

Canada and the European Union had recently agreed to a large 28 billion dollar trade deal, here’s hoping that the tar pits do not affect that deal, as well as any future economic endeavours that could provide for much greater advantages than the finite resources in the tar pits ever could.  


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