Saturday, January 08, 2011

Ezra Levant, Peter Kent and "Ethical" Oil

It's disheartening to see that the top priority of the new Environment Minister is to defend the tar sands at all costs, and almost as disheartening to see him getting talking points from Ezra Levant:

Mr. Levant, a onetime aide to Stockwell Day, has helped popularize the argument that oil-sands petroleum is ethically superior to petroleum produced by countries such as Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Iran – all nations that also sell crude to the U.S. market or Asian markets.

Mr. Levant is correct that, all other things being equal, we should support Canadian democracy over the despotic OPEC regimes. But Canada's superior governance does not make tar sands "ethical," for you can't define ethical in purely geopolitical terms and ignore environmental consequences. The tar sands are unsustainable because of their energy intensiveness (input to output ratio), water requirements, tailing ponds and pollution in the Athabasca River. One of Canada's great resources is it's vast natural beauty, and that's being seriously blighted by the tar sands.

Moreover, Levant (and Kent) are presenting a false choice between despotic oil and dirty oil. There are many other energy options more deserving of the "ethical" label.

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