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Canada’s environment minister has to work for all Canadians, seeking both to pursue the government’s environmental agenda and to help expand its oil industry, Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco.
“I don’t make any apologies for our need to get resources to market. I need to be working for all Canadians,” McKenna said. There are more than 100,000 Canadians working in Alberta’s oil industry alone – making it one of the country’s most important industries.
“We need to make decisions that are good for the environment and for the economy, and the good news is that in the 21st century they go together,” the minister said, adding that getting it right was difficult. But it is very much possible to get it right, with both oil and clean energy being developed simultaneously.
Justin Trudeau’s government has enjoyed strong support from environmentalists, although its backing of the Trans Mountain expansion project scored it some red points from the green lobby. Earlier this year, the government was forced to buy the project from Kinder Morgan after continued protests and political opposition from British Columbia led the company to suspend work on the project and start considering a cancelation.
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Opinions on Canadian oil continue to be divided. Proponents argue that Canada needs more markets for its heavy crude, which will only be possible after constructing the necessary pipeline infrastructure and relieving a pipeline shortage that has pushed Canadian crude into a substantial discount to WTI.
Opponents of the oil industry, for their part, argue that Canadian heavy is so costly to produce that it will not be competitive on international markets, so there is no point in building more pipelines to transport it to those markets.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.