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During a meeting with one of the most powerful politicians in the U.S., Canadian premiers drove home the point that Canada's oil industry is sustainable, environmentally friendly, and a key economic driver for both countries.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach and Quebec Premier Jean Charest were in on the Wednesday night meeting with Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, along with federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice.

Wall said he made the point that Canada's oilsands industry is constantly striving to improve its green business practices.

"It was the chance for us to certainly make the case that in the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan on a per capita basis that we are investing more in terms of reducing the environmental impact and the carbon footprint of oil production than almost anyone around the planet," Wall told CTV's Canada AM on Thursday.

He said Pelosi was in Canada to listen and learn about our oil industry, and was a knowledgeable and engaged participant in the discussion.

Wall said he and Stelmach espoused initiatives that are underway to reduce the carbon footprint in the oilsands. The goal was to convince Pelosi that Canada's oil is a sustainable investment for the U.S., which is the largest purchaser of the product.

"We also made the case that energy is part of a broader trade relationship we have that's very important to both countries. Jobs are at stake on both sides of the border -- Billings, Montana has a lot of families working because Canadian oil is refined there," Stelmach said.

Canada is the largest supplier of energy to the U.S., but a recent backlash against the oilsands has raised questions about its sustainability and environmental impact.

Pelosi is meeting with First Nations groups and environmental agencies and advocates on Thursday to hear the other side of the argument.

One of those groups is Environmental Defence, whose Executive Director Rick Smith, took issue with Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach's characterization of the oilsands. He said the premier "owes Canadians an apology" for "pretending that there's any environmental concern in the tarsands industry within the ranks of the Alberta government."

Smith alluded to the latest in a line of reports that suggest the environmental impact of the oilsands may be much more severe than government or industry estimates indicate.

Representatives from Environmental Defence plan to tell Pelosi Thursday "that the customer is always right, that very clearly this is an industry, this is a provincial government that are not going to move on these issues unless they're pushed," Smith said. 

"We're very much hoping that, as the tarsands industry harbours this ambition of dramatic growth into the United States, the U.S. government takes advantage of that position to say, 'Look, you can't continue with business as usual -- you have to seriously address dramatic reduction in your pollution levels."

 

Source: CTV News

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