Jump to navigation

U.S. Chamber Defends Military's Right to Purchase Canadian Oil Sands Fuels

Wednesday, September 29, 2010 - 8:00pm

Sierra Club’s Lawsuit Against Defense Department Threatens American Jobs, Growth, and National Security

WASHINGTON, D.C.—To ensure continued U.S. military access to reliable, cost-efficient sources of fuel, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce today moved to intervene in a lawsuit that could prevent the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) from purchasing fuels produced from Canadian oil sands-derived crude. The Chamber intervened in support of the Defense Department because of concerns that the government cannot adequately represent the interests of the entire business community affected by the lawsuit.

Environmentalists in Sierra Club v. Department of Defense are attempting to use a provision in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007(EISA) to stop the military from using fuel derived from oil sands that may emit higher levels of greenhouse gas emissions than other fuel sources. The Chamber intervened jointly with the American Petroleum Institute and the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association against the Sierra Club.

“This lawsuit is yet another effort to regulate greenhouse gas emissions through litigation rather than legislation,” said Robin Conrad, executive vice president of the National Chamber Litigation Center, the Chamber’s public policy law firm. “This litigation could harm a wide range of American employers, from the domestic refiners who process the oil sands crude to the mechanics who work on the equipment.”

Environmentalists argue that Section 526 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 requires the government to ensure that any non-conventional fuels it purchases emit lower levels of greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuels and contend that the DOD violated this provision by purchasing fuels produced from crude derived from Canadian oil sands. The Pentagon believes that Section 526 does not apply to purchases of commercially available oil-sands fuels, which are often blended with various sources by refiners.

“Many U.S. industries produce, process, transport, or otherwise rely on Canadian oil sands derived crude. An adverse ruling on this lawsuit would not only cause significant economic harm and have long-term impacts on U.S. jobs and growth, it will also make our country less secure by impairing the ability of our military to procure the fuel it needs,” said Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy. “America’s national and energy security should not be held hostage by environmental groups seeking to prove a point.”

In 2008, the U.S. imported one million barrels per day more oil and refined products from Canada than from its second largest supplier, Saudi Arabia. Nearly half of the Canadian crude oil brought into the U.S. is derived from oil sands. Curtailing this valuable source of energy from a longtime ally, like Canada, could divert it to other countries, particularly in Asia, whose demand for affordable energy is rapidly growing.

NCLC is the public policy law firm of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that advocates fair treatment of business in the courts and before regulatory agencies.

The mission of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for 21st Century Energy is to unify policymakers, regulators, business leaders, and the American public behind a common sense energy strategy to help keep America secure, prosperous, and clean. Through policy development, education, and advocacy, the Institute is building support for meaningful action at the local, state, national, and international levels.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.

# # #