Why the Oil Sands Industry Wants the Carbon Tax that Stephen Harper Hates

From Financial Post

By Jeremy van Loon and Andrew Mayeda

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has vilified political opponents who support a tax on carbon-dioxide emissions. The oil sands industry, Canada’s fastest growing CO2 polluter, says he’s out of step.

The contradiction of an industry seeking a new tax on itself has emerged in energy-rich Canada because producers are concerned the crude they process from tar-like sands will be barred from foreign markets for releasing more carbon in its production than competing fossil fuels.

Oil companies operating in Canada such as Exxon Mobil Corp., Total SA of France and Canada’s Cenovus Energy Inc. plan to convert billions of barrels of the sticky bitumen into diesel and gasoline. Under foreign and domestic pressure, they now see a greenhouse-gas levy helping to provide access to markets and more predictable costs for Canada’s biggest export industry, which shipped $68-billion of oil in 2011.

A carbon tax “is one of the ways to promote better performance of the industry,” Andre Goffart, president of Total’s Canadian unit, said in an interview in Calgary. “The principles are probably agreed upon by the players. The question is, where do you put the level to incentivize the industry to go in a more efficient way?”

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