U.S. renewable energy is the undisputed winner and Canadian exports of oil-sands oil the apparent loser under a new-energy initiative being promoted by the new U.S. president and at least one key like-minded state.
“Now, the choice we face is not between saving our environment and saving our economy,” U.S. President Barack Obama declared Wednesday at a production plant for wind turbines in Iowa.
“The choice we face is between prosperity and decline. We can remain the world's leading importer of oil, or we can become the world's leading exporter of clean energy,” the Whitehouse’s Web site quoted Obama as saying.
With $15 billion every year promised to help develop clean energy sources, Obama announced a new Interior Department program to lease federal waters for wind-energy farms and wave and tidal energy parks.
Since Tuesday, the day after hearings began on a new “Climate Bill”, Obama’s policymakers have seen lively debate from opponents of a European-style cap-and-trade system to regulate and profit from emissions. But as they argued, another attack on the oil and gas industry was being felt by Canadians in California.
The state’s Air Resources Board closed the deadline for comments on a first North American low-carbon fuel standard just as Canadian representatives arrived in California from Houston to ensure oil sands oil wasn’t being singled out. Canadian newspaper The Globe & Mail reported the California low-carbon rule would become an Obama law.
The paper reported new strictures would force Canadian oil sands producers to “dramatically reduce their emissions before their product could be sold in the state”, or — as in Europe — to buy emissions quotas from alternative energy producers.
It was the hand of California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and its executive order that required the board to set the low-carbon standard as part of the state’s clean-air act.
Canadian authorities are protesting, especially since the standard only applies to oil not yet in sunny California.
By Thursday, Alberta’s Energy Minister Mel Knight was in Houston visiting the American Petroleum Institute’s Downstream Committee and saying oil sands oil was key to U.S. energy security.
Obama, meanwhile, was saying the U.S. only needed to boost oil and gas production “in the short term”, or until the “transitioning” to alternative sources could be completed.
Wind power, the dominant renewable source, is seen making up 20 percent of U.S. electricity needs by 2030. So, the short-term for oil and gas could be long.