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‘Exaggerated hypocrisy’ of F1 tar sands protest helps Alberta’s case, argues Kenney

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WASHINGTON — The “exaggerated hypocrisy” that Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel displayed on his jersey and helmet last weekend in Montreal is just the kind of thing Prime Minister Jason Kenney says he needs to refute and discredit critics. from the Alberta oil sands. .

Kenney visibly relished the opportunity on Thursday to denounce Vettel as a hypocrite after the German driver showed up at the Gilles Villeneuve circuit for the Canadian F1 Grand Prix wearing a T-shirt describing the tar sands as “Canada’s climate crime”. “.

Vettel also wore a specially designed helmet during practice and qualifying sessions on Friday and Saturday that featured the same slogan, along with pipeline graphics and images of natural forests juxtaposed with a post-industrial wasteland, and the message “Stop mining sands.” bituminous”.

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“I’m happy with what Sebastian Vettel did, because I think … it’s almost like a caricature of hypocrisy,” Kenney said Thursday during a visit to the US capital, where he is part of a delegation trying to rehabilitate the public image. from Alberta. Energy.

Vettel drives for Aston Martin, which is backed by Saudi Aramco, a Middle Eastern oil giant with “probably a higher carbon footprint than pretty much anybody on the planet,” Kenney said.

“I think it’s a perfect teaching moment for us to say that opposition to tar sands comes from people who have no idea what we do and are often covered in hypocrisy.”

Kenney participated Thursday in a panel discussion at the Wilson Center’s Canada Institute with members of the Pathways Alliance, a consortium of oil sands producers behind a multibillion-dollar carbon capture and storage project they herald as a potential game changer.

The ultimate goal is to make Alberta’s tar sands production net-zero by 2050 by capturing the emissions produced by burning natural gas and storing them deep within the spacious and porous geography of Canada’s prairies.

The shorter-term goal, however, is to shed the tar sands’ reputation for providing “dirty oil” and to make more US policymakers aware of Canada as a viable and stable option for immediate fuel needs. fossils from your country.

Those needs, Kenney said, are especially acute as motorists grapple with rising gasoline prices, coupled with record levels of inflation, supply chain pressures, labor shortages and other long-term symptoms of the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine.

“They prefer to solve that problem with Canadian energy than with Saudi or Venezuelan or dictatorial oil,” he said.

“So I think we can appeal to the vast majority of Americans and people on Capitol Hill, but some of them just need to know that we’re serious about reducing emissions and respecting the environment.”

It won’t be cheap: Officials say the industry expects a final tally of around $2.5 billion a year between now and 2050, including roughly $20 billion to meet the initial goal of storing or removing 20 million tons of emissions. by 2030.

Cenovus Energy CEO Alex Pourbaix said the timeline is roughly divided into three segments, with the first being dominated by carbon capture and storage. Over time, new, less energy-intensive methods of extracting bitumen will make the industry less dependent on natural gas.

These include small-scale nuclear reactors, known as small modular reactors, as well as burning hydrogen instead of natural gas to generate the steam used to liquefy bitumen and replacing the steam entirely with solvents, such as butane.

“We have the goal of decoupling oil production in the tar sands from CO2 emission,” Pourboix said.

“If we are able to do that, I think we really have a compelling case that Canadian oil should be the barrel of oil of choice for sure for US imports, but we would argue around the world.”

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on June 23, 2022.

James McCarten, The Canadian Press

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