Canadian Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver told the Chicago Council on Global Affairs that energy provided a strong foundation for Ottawa's alliance with the United States.
"Canada will continue to be the leading, most secure, reliable and competitive energy supplier to the United States," he said. "Our goals are aligned on greenhouse gas emissions and the priority of enhancing jobs and economic growth on both sides of the border."
Canada sends about 2.8 million barrels of oil per day to the United States. About 30 percent of that is designated for oil refineries in Illinois. Oliver said oil sands, a heavier type of crude oil, could help support the Illinois economy for the next 25 years.
Oil sands production is controversial. Its heavy nature means it lingers in the environment longer than conventional crude and production is tied to higher levels of greenhouse gas emissions.
Oliver sought to discount environmental concerns, however, saying greenhouse gas emissions associated with oil sands production in 2010 were half as much as that from coal-fired electricity in Illinois.
"Canada will continue developing its natural resources for export to the United States and the fastest-growing regions of the world in a way that ensures the environment is protected," Oliver said.