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Stephen Harper calls oil sands 'ethical'

Prime Minister Stephen Harper defended the Alberta oil sands Friday as an “ethical” source of energy that creates important job growth.

His remarks are essentially identical to those of new federal environment minister Peter Kent, who pledged Thursday not to subject the industry to greenhouse gas regulations for at least several years.

"I can only say that the government's position is clear," Harper reportedly said. “The oil sands represent a very important resource for this country.”

He added: “The reality is that Canada is a very ethical society and a very secure source of energy for the United States, compared to other sources.”

Within days of being named Canada’s new environment minister, Kent also called the oil sands “ethical” and vowed to fight against the label of “dirty oil.”

He told the Globe and Mail Thursday that the federal government plans to create emissions guidelines for the industry – just not anytime soon.

“Our focus for the next several years is going to continue to be on maintaining the economic recovery and we will do nothing in the short term which would unnecessarily compromise or threaten to compromise that recovery,” Kent said.

The term “Ethical Oil” made headlines this fall as conservative commentator Ezra Levant promoted his book of the same name. Levant, a former tobacco lobbyist, has been heralded within industry circles for his strong defence of the oil sands.

Producing and refining oil sands bitumen creates 82 percent more greenhouse gases than for conventional crude, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates.

Click here to read a recent Tyee series about how Canada and major oil companies are attempting to overturn U.S. climate legislation that could potentially target the oil sands.

Geoff Dembicki reports for the Tyee.


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