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Europe's fuel directive none of Ottawa's business: EU

Minster of Natural Resources Joe Oliver responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011.


A member of the European Parliament wants Ottawa to butt out of the EU's deliberations on a proposed fuel-quality directive that the Harper government says would discriminate against Canada.

During a visit to the capital, Greek official Kriton Arsenis insisted the regulation is a key component of Europe's effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and does not single out Canada, or even Canadian oil, as a target.

"It is valid to want to protect jobs in Canada and choose the way you want to grow, but nobody should try to stop another sovereign state from protecting its citizens from catastrophic climate change," Mr. Arsenis said in an interview. "This lobbying against legislation of another sovereign country – I don't understand how this can be between allies and friends."

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The EU's proposed fuel-quality regulations assume a litre of gasoline made from bitumen would produce 22 per cent more emissions than gasoline made from conventional oil. Gasoline made from shale oil or coal-to-liquid technology would be assigned even higher values.

The aim is to force refiners to adopt lower-emission fuels and thus reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Europe.

The Harper government has joined with the oil industry to defend the reputation of the oil sands from global environmental groups whose efforts to target the Alberta producers threatens to limit their access to key markets.

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver argues the regulations are discriminatory because they set a separate measure for "bitumen" and Canada is the only producer of bitumen, the raw product of the oil sands. He contends there are other sources of "conventional" oil that are as bad in terms of emissions as oil sands crude.

The Harper government has lobbied aggressively to derail the directive, and won some allies, notably the British government of David Cameron. The regulation is now being considered by a technical committee of member EU countries, which is expected to put it to a vote on Dec. 2. in its lobbying effort, before sending it back to the European Parliament.

Mr. Oliver lashed out at the New Democrat MPs for opposing oil sands pipelines and supporting the EU fuel directorate.

"Here they are again opposing the creation of Canadian jobs and economic growth for the country," the minister said.

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About the Author
Global Energy Reporter

Shawn McCarthy is an Ottawa-based, national business correspondent for The Globe and Mail, covering a global energy beat. He writes on various aspects of the international energy industry, from oil and gas production and refining, to the development of new technologies, to the business implications of climate-change regulations. More

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