Tar Sands Solutions Network

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Reducing Demand for Oil

More tar sands oil is not the answer to our energy problem. In 2008, while he was on the campaign trail, President Barack Obama encouraged Americans to “be the generation that finally frees itself from the tyranny of oil.” Obama’s energy plan recognized what environmental groups have been saying for decades: “improving energy efficiency is the fastest, cheapest, most cost-effective method” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save us money, and enhance energy independence. We couldn't agree more.

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The main driver of tar sands expansion is our over-reliance on increasingly dirty oil as a primary source of energy. Rather than tripling tar sands production over the next 17 years, the most rational approach to meeting our energy needs is to reduce our dependence on oil and other fossil fuels by building a clean energy economy based on energy efficiency and low-carbon, renewable energy sources.

But in order for energy efficiency to become the rule rather than exception, it’s essential that effective government policy drives investment in efficiency rather than more dirty oil production. Every year, the Canadian government gives more than $1.4 billion in tax subsidies to oil, coal, and gas companies. In the United States, government subsidies for fossil fuels range from $10 billion to $52 billion annually, far greater than any support for renewable energies.

These public funds would be better spent on energy conservation and renewable energy instead. A McKinsey & Company study found that significant investment in energy efficiency could cut U.S. energy consumption by 23 percent by 2020, at the same time eliminating more than $1.2 trillion in waste, saving customers nearly $700 billion, and creating up to 900,000 direct jobs. This would reduce the need for any tar sands oil at all and prevent 1.1 gigatons of greenhouse-gas pollution annually—the equivalent of taking the entire US fleet of passenger vehicles and light trucks off the roads.

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Reducing Demand for Oil Updates & Resources

P.R. firm urges TransCanada to target opponents of its Energy East pipeline

Ian Austen | New York Times - November 18th 2014

Press Clipping: Ben Powless, the antipipeline campaigner at Ecology Ottawa, said he was somewhat surprised that Edelman, the largest independent public relations firm based on revenues, would be concerned about his small group’s influence. Ecology Ottawa has about nine paid employees and mainly relies on volunteers who tend to be students and retirees. “To me, it’s a smear campaign really trying to shut down the voices of local people who have legitimate concerns.”

Environment Maine: Tar Sands Ordinance Passes on Initial Vote

Environment Maine - July 11th 2014

Blog Post: The South Portland City Council voted 6-1 to pass the Clear Skies Ordinance, a new, narrow ordinance that will protect the city from tar sands. A huge crowd of 355 people, wearing sky-blue tee shirts, turned out in support of the ordinance, and those from South Portland speaking in support of the ordinance outnumbered opponents 9-1.

It’s time to think about renewables

Mike Hudema | Greenpeace Canada - June 24th 2014

Blog Post: As the smoke clears from this week’s Enbridge Northern Gateway decision, one thing is clear — this pipeline will never be built. Given opposition from the British Columbia government, a litany of First Nation lawsuits, a possible referendum and inevitable protests, Northern Gateway’s demise is already being written despite the federal green light.

The land of green and money

The Economist - August 4th 2013

Press Clipping: Canada could do more to limit carbon emissions, which have risen in recent years even as they have fallen south of the border. As if to rub it in, Barack Obama recently warned that unless it does, he will not approve the Keystone XL pipeline to bring oil from Alberta's tar sands to Texas. Yet America itself can learn a thing or two about climate policy from British Columbia.

Nailed it! Toronto exceeds Kyoto target

Bryan Purcell | Toronto Atmospheric Fund - April 23rd 2013

Press Clipping: Back in 2007 when City Council passed the Climate Change and Clean Air Action Plan, we set what seemed like an ambitious target for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions: 6% below 1990 levels by 2012 — equivalent to Canada’s target under the Kyoto Protocol. Since then, the Federal Government has formally withdrawn from Kyoto, citing the impossibility of achieving the 6% target. So how is Toronto doing?