Oil sands face defining days as U.S. Keystone ruling, EU vote draw closer – by Claudia Cattaneo (National Post – January 31, 2013)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

Judgment day on the oil sands — and on Canada’s integrity as an oil producer — by our top trading partners and allies, United States and the European Union, is just a season away.

After a six-year campaign by green activists to brand them as a climate change villain, two major decisions will either validate the campaign against the oil sands or rehabilitate their reputation are expected this spring: U.S. president Barack Obama’s ruling on the proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline, and a European Union vote on whether to label the oil sands as more polluting than other oils in its Fuel Quality Directive.

The U.S. decision is expected around the end of March, the EU is expected to rule around June. The decisions will open or close markets, help fix or entrench the deep discounting of Canada’s oil because of insufficient pipeline capacity and uncertainty about future markets, show how far jurisdictions are prepared to go to shape — and shame? — others’ economic choices and environmental standards in the name of the climate.

“In the context of continued and expanded market access, [the two policy decisions] are critically important,” Cal Dallas, Alberta’s minister of international and intergovernmental relations, said in an interview Wednesday.

Mr. Dallas has been at the forefront of an intense Alberta government effort to win international support for Canada’s vast oil resources, and is optimistic about both scenarios.

In Europe, “we had very good discussions,” he said. “And I think that once there is a good understanding of the kinds of initiatives that are happening in Alberta with respect to both mitigating the impacts of the entire development but also our commitments around greenhouse gases … the conversation is very productive.”

As for the United States, “while there is plenty of speculation in either direction with regard to the Keystone application, I haven’t seen or heard anything that would cause me to be pessimistic about that,” he said.

While slow at the beginning to counter the anti-oil sands campaign, Alberta has reached far and wide in Europe to promote a re-think of its ranking of the oil sands as more polluting than other oil imports.

For the rest of this article, please go to the National Post website: http://business.financialpost.com/2013/01/30/oil-sands-face-defining-days-as-u-s-keystone-ruling-eu-vote-draw-closer/?__lsa=cf3c-1f3b