Canadian PM Harper: Tar Sands Are Awesome

Prime Minister Stephen Harper serves as a mouthpiece for TransCanada at New York meet

Canada's right-wing Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in New York on Thursday championing tar sands and the Keystone XL pipeline, saying "global emissions" from the crude are "almost nothing" and that the flow of tar sands from Canada's Mordor into the U.S. is an absolute certainty.

Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations, "Harper turned into a pitch man for TransCanada Corp's" tar sands-carrying pipeline, Reuters reports.

"First of all," said Harper, "one needs to put this in a global perspective. Less than one-tenth of 1 percent of global emissions are in the oil sands. And so it -- it's, you know, almost nothing globally."

"Truth of the matter is heavy oils out of the oil sands -- yes, there still are emissions issues, but no -- no more so than heavy crudes in other parts of the world, including Venezuela."

Talking about the Keystone XL pipeline, Harper repeated erroneous claims about the number of jobs the project will bring:

"You know, this project -- well, if I can just take a second, four things. I talked about the environment. You know, on the economic side, 40,000 jobs in this country alone over the life of the project -- I don't think, given the growth and job record in North America, we can afford to turn down -- turn up our nose at that. Energy security -- this project will bring in enough oil to reduce American offshore dependence by 40 percent. This is an enormous benefit to the United States in terms of long-term energy security. And finally, of course, I think when you weigh all these factors, including the environmental factors, it explains why there is such overwhelming public support for this pipeline in the United States and why the -- in the -- particularly in the regions affected, there's such broad bipartisan support."

If the pipeline isn't approved, the tar sands will just travel by rail, said Harper.

"I think all the facts, including the recent -- you know, recent State Department had a pretty thorough analysis of this, including the environmental impact. And the immediate -- the only real immediate environmental issue here is that we want to increase the flow of oil from Canada via pipeline or via rail. If we don't do the pipeline, more and more is going to be coming in via rail, which is far more environmentally challenging in terms of emissions and risks and all kinds of other things than building a proper pipeline. I think all the facts are overwhelmingly on the side of approval of this, but there is a process in the United States," Harper said.

About 100 climate activists were at the Council offices to greet Harper and offer an opposing view of the pipeline.

"Harper: Tell the truth on climate change. Tar Sands = Climate Disaster," was the message the activists brought with a large banner.

A group of scientists and economists has also attempted to counter the industry and Harper's misinformation by launching this week, a website that outlines tar sands' "impacts on our environment, economy, and society."

In a letter to the Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass a day ahead of Harper's visit, the group warns that "The pace and scale of expansion of oil sands and a safe climate for all of us cannot co-exist."


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