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Report: Canada can be energy superpower

A man supporting the Keystone XL pipeline project watches speakers at a State Department hearing to consider if it is in the U.S. national interest in Washington, DC, on October 7, 2011. The pipeline would carry crude oil from Canada through nine U.S. states to Houston, Texas. UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg
A man supporting the Keystone XL pipeline project watches speakers at a State Department hearing to consider if it is in the U.S. national interest in Washington, DC, on October 7, 2011. The pipeline would carry crude oil from Canada through nine U.S. states to Houston, Texas. UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg | License Photo

OTTAWA, July 20 (UPI) -- A Canadian Senate committee has released a report aimed at positioning Canada to become an energy superpower.

The 68-page report, titled "Now or never: Canada must act urgently to seize its place in the new energy world order," from the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources says it draws on the expertise of more than 250 leading energy stakeholders across the country.

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"We see Canada's potential as the most productive energy nation in the world, with the highest levels of environmental performance," committee Chairman Sen. David Angus, said in a statement while releasing the report Thursday.

"But we also conclude that there is a great sense of urgency -- and we need an energy literacy that includes a profound recognition that energy pervades all aspects of our lives, and is a key element of our social fabric. The future is fraught with peril if we don't get it right."

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The report calls for improving the environmental performance of oil sands, although it said the amount of attention given to oil sands by environmentalists was "widely disproportionate" to the actual impact on the environment.

Canada's oil sands, the second largest reserve of oil after Saudi Arabia, are a mixture of sand, water, clay and bitumen that is extracted mostly via open-pit mining.

Critics say the oil, also called tar sands, creates more greenhouse gas emissions and is more toxic to the environment than conventional crude oil.

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"Industry, governments and stakeholders are now working together to address the environmental performance issues arising from oil sands development, but more needs to be done," the report states. Processing tailings and accelerating land reclamation remain issues, it said.

Calling natural gas a "game-changing fuel," that is becoming a platform fuel for the Canadian economy, the authors said its expansion should be encouraged.

Coal consumption may eventually decline in Canada as a result of environmental policies, the report says, but could continue to thrive with the development of emission-reducing technologies such as carbon capture and storage and coal gasification.

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The authors recommend the establishment of a Canadian energy information agency, similar to the U.S. Energy Information Agency to provide up-to-date facts and information on energy.

Canadian Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said the report is "a valuable contribution to the national discussion underway on Canada's emerging role as a global energy superpower."

Over the next 10 years, Oliver said, more than 500 major resource projects, representing an investment of more than $500 billion, are expected to move forward.

"This will assure Canadians from coast to coast to coast of hundreds of thousands of new jobs, many hundreds of millions in revenues to government for vital social programs, and economic security and prosperity for generations to come," he said in a statement.

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