March 3, 2009

Canadian Environmental Minister Meets with US Legislators

Canadian Environment Minister Jim Prentice on Monday voiced his hopes for a North American fuel standard among the auto industry.

"At this point in the United States, it would appear as though they are headed toward a 35 mile a gallon standard by 2020 and that would start to come into effect in the 2011 model year," Prentice told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp in Washington.

"We've essentially been prepared to go in that same direction ... what we're striving for is a North American standard because we know there's only one North American automobile industry."

Prentice is on a visit to the US, meeting with legislators. On Monday he met with Senator John Kerry. Prentice told the Canadian Broadcasting Center that they discussed "the expansion of clean energy research and the deployment of clean energy technology."

Canada is the largest oil supplier to the US, but the majority of its oil comes from the oilsands, which has been criticized as the cause of large amounts of greenhouse gases.

Democrat Henry Waxman of California has proposed US federal agency refusal of dirty fuels, such as the oil coming from Alberta's oilsands.

When asked how his opinion on the oilsands differed from Waxman's, Kerry replied: "I haven't made any judgments as to whether it differs or not," according to the CBC.

"It is possible that we could have a North America-wide cap-and-trade system," Prentice said in an interview quoted by the Calgary Herald. "It's more likely that we would have a system that operates in the United States and one in Canada that are parallel, if you will, with similar features that then allowed for cross-trading in the marketplace."

"I think we need to have that discussion and then look into the details of what's being proposed in the United States," he said. "But, fundamentally, we are talking about having common targets and a common approach and the architecture would have to be set up such that the interaction in the marketplace works on both sides of the border."

According to Reuters, Prentice is slated to meet Todd Stern the chief U.SD. climate negotiator, Environmental Protection Agency head Lisa Jackson, and Secretary of Energy Steven Chu.


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