By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator, Monday February 27, 2012
Canada claims win in EU oilsands vote
The Conservative government and Canadian energy sector are girding for several more months of intense lobbying after European Union officials Thursday blocked a draft fuel law that would label the oilsands a dirtier form of crude.
The Canadian government is trumpeting the outcome – which saw more EU officials reject the fuel directive than support it – as a temporary victory in its ongoing efforts to persuade European Union countries not to slap a higher carbonemissions rating on oilsands crude compared to conventional oil.
It also means Canada’s threats of launching a trade war with the European Union and taking the proposal to the World Trade Organization are on hold for now.
But the result has environmental groups digging in their heels in the “dirty oil” fight and even more determined to prevent bitumen-derived fuels from being used in Europe.
With many of Canada’s allies abstaining from the vote, European Union countries supporting the proposed Fuel Quality Directive failed to win enough support at a Thursday committee meeting of technical experts to have it pass.
However, there also wasn’t enough support to kill the measure, so a council of EU ministers will now vote on the fuel directive, likely in June – but not before the Conservative government and petroleum producers ratchet up their efforts to quash it outright.
“There was a sound win,” federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said in an interview. “We will continue to advocate our position. It has obviously resonated.” (Source: Ottawa Citizen)