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This article was published 28/11/2010 (4026 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
OTTAWA -- Canadian diplomats in Washington have quietly asked oil-industry players such as Exxon Mobil and BP to help "kill" U.S. global-warming policies in order to ensure that "the oil keeps a-flowing" from Alberta into the U.S. market, Postmedia News has learned.
In a series of newly released correspondence from Canada's Washington embassy, the Canadian diplomats describe recommendations from Environment Canada to clean up the oilsands as "simply nutty," proposing instead to "kill any interpretation" of U.S. energy legislation that would apply to the industry.
"We hope that we can find a solution to ensure that the oil keeps a-flowing," Jason Tolland wrote from the Canadian Embassy in an exchange of emails with government trade lawyers on Feb. 8, 2008.
The correspondence, released to the Pembina Institute, an environmental research group that obtained it through access-to-information legislation, comes as the international community gathers in Cancun, Mexico, for the annual United Nations summit on global warming.
The new documents also follow revelations by Postmedia News last week that the Harper government had crafted a multi-department communications strategy with industry stakeholders and the Alberta government to attack foreign environmental policies and promote the oilsands.
Clare Demerse, associate director of climate change at the Pembina Institute, said the government should remember that it works for Canadians, not the oil companies.
"A responsible government would see clean-energy policies outside our borders as an opportunity to do better, not as a threat," Demerse said.
The messages from diplomats were sent as the oilsands industry was lobbying against Section 526 of the U.S. Energy Independence and Security Act, which could restrict U.S. government departments and agencies from buying fuel with a high environmental footprint.
"The U.S. government -- read administration -- is looking to us to provide support for their work to kill any interpretation of this section that would apply to Canadian oilsands," wrote Tolland. "That is the purpose of this."
The correspondence reveals that the Canadian diplomats had contacted officials from the American Petroleum Institute, an industry association, as well as from Exxon Mobil Corp., BP, Chevron Corp., ConocoPhillips, Encana Corp., and Marathon Oil Corp. "to point out the potential implication to their imports from Canada."
One email sent by Paul Connors, at the time an energy counsellor at the embassy, encouraged an official with Exxon Mobil to get involved in the political debate against the legislation.
"I would encourage your firm to make its views known to DOE (U.S. Department of Energy) and the Hill (politicians)," wrote Connors to Susan E. Carter from Exxon Mobil on Jan. 22, 2008.
The debate over the interpretation of Section 526 is still before the courts.
-- Postmedia News