Energy and Power Subcommittee Discusses Canadian Oil Sands Technology

March 20, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC - The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power, chaired by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), hosted a hearing today to examine how new technologies have increased efficient and environmentally sensitive development of Alberta's oil sands, and are paving the way toward North American energy independence. Innovation in oil sands development has been a constant theme. Canada's willingness to embrace these new technologies and encourage energy production stands in stark contrast to the Obama administration's regulatory policies which prevent us from fully harnessing our domestic energy resources. 

"What we have learned today is just how successful Canadian efforts have been to decrease the environmental impacts from oil sands through technology, even as production increases," said Whitfield. "The difference in what Canada is accomplishing, and what is taking place in the United States is clear. Canadian regulators seek to make energy production safe, while the Obama administration's regulators often seek to make it impossible. America can and must increase its domestic energy production, and there is much to learn from the Canadian experience as to how we can get there."

Murray Smith, former Alberta Minister of Energy, credited Alberta's energy success to human ingenuity and a strong partnership between government and the private sector. "How Alberta moved from starting oil sands development in 1967, from scratch, with a joint government-private sector consortium to today's production levels of over 1.7 million barrels per day is a compelling story of human will, initiative and technology evolution," said Smith. "Importantly the province of Alberta owns these resources and manages them on behalf of the citizens of Alberta. Today in 2012 some scant 50 years later, the oil sands is the largest "˜investible' resource in the world."

Today's witnesses explained how emerging innovation and new technologies are allowing oil sands and other energy sources to be developed in a more efficient and environmentally friendly manner. Eddy Isaacs, energy researcher and CEO of Alberta Innovates, explained that "current oil sands production of about 1.7 million barrels per day is a direct result of sustained investments in technological innovation and decades of "˜learning by doing.'"

Tony Dammer, former U.S. DOE Director of Naval Petroleum and Oil Shale Reserves, described the beneficial impacts of Canada's resource development on the region's economy and energy security. He also noted the potential to learn from the development of Albertan oil sands in the development of the vast U.S. oil shale resource. "The United States is the custodian of the largest and most concentrated hydrocarbon resource on earth -oil shale.  Conservatively estimated to exceed 2 trillion barrels, it has the potential to provide millions of barrels of indigenous production per day if development is planned prudently in a manner analogous to the Alberta experience."

"The people of Canada and America both strongly support responsible development of
domestic energy sources. They both understand the benefits of expanding North American supplies and the need to do so with reasonable environmental safeguards," said Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI). "But the Canadian government does a much better job responding to all voices. Development of Alberta's oil sands is an example of a balanced approach to energy production. That balance is missing in the U.S."

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