Michael Byers: Exporting bitumen to China would be environmentally and fiscally detrimental

In a mini-debate hosted by the Globe and Mail, Rideau Institute Board Member Michael Byers provided a compelling argument against the export of bitumen to China. Byers, who is also the Canada Research Chair in Global Affairs and International Law at the University of British Columbia, pointed to efforts by US lawmakers to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline linking Alberta’s tar sands to refineries near the Gulf of Mexico. House Democrats fear that the pipeline, if built, would slow the shift to renewable sources of energy.

Byers explained that the production of oil from the Alberta tar sands generates significantly higher emissions than conventional sources of oil. These costs are dissipated throughout all parts of the world and affect both current and future generations. According to the Calgary-based Pembina Institute,  building a pipeline to the West Coast for export to China would increase tar sands output by 30%, the equivalent of putting 1.6 million cars on the road.

By cutting our massive subsidies to the oil industry, Byers believes that Canada can place itself on the right side of history. Furthermore, these actions would certainly increase the price of oil, which in turn, would expedite the shift to cleaner sources of energy.

See: Byers, Michael. Exporting bitumen to China would be environmentally and fiscally detrimental. The Globe and Mail, 13 June 2011

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