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EU: Maybe Canada’s Tar Sands Crude Isn’t So Bad After All

Walter Russell Mead, The American Interest

In the face of geopolitics, green ideals wither on the vine. That’s what we’re seeing in Europe, where energy security concerns are once again driving the EU to rein in its green ambitions.

The EU has toyed with the idea of banning Canada’s dirty tar sands crude from its refineries, but renewed energy security concerns, brought on by Russia’s recent aggression, are changing that calculus. The Financial Post reports:

The European Union has previously deemed the oil sands as one of the dirtiest forms of oil and its proposed Fuel Quality Fuel Directive would effectively make Canadian crude unwelcome in European refineries. But Russia’s latest aggressive moves in Ukraine have compelled the continent to take another look at Alberta crude. […]

In his first international assignment, Canada’s Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford was out in full force advertising the country’s formidable crude oil and natural gas resources to energy ministers of Germany, France, Italy, Japan, U.K. and U.S. in Rome on Tuesday. […]

“I feel better about it now than perhaps we have at any point in time,” Mr. Rickford said. “It was a very positive signal from the G7 energy ministers I met with. My discussion with European Union Council Representatives again [gave] a strong signal that this was moving in the right direction for Canada.”

Europe importing Albertan crude might be a defeat for the green agenda, but it isn’t a defeat for the planet. That’s because that oil, however dirty it may be, was already bound to come out of the ground one way or another. Europe can turn its nose up at it, American greens can stop the Keystone XL pipeline, but at the end of the day there’s plenty of oil down there and enough customers willing to pay for it. A European ban would be purely symbolic, and the allure of such a stand is withering under the harsh reality of a belligerent Russia.

The American Interest, 9 May 2014