EU tar sands fight not over, experts at stalemate

Thu Feb 23, 2012 12:59pm EST
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By Barbara Lewis

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Years of fierce lobbying against draft EU rules that would label fuel from tar sands as more polluting than from other sources produced a stalemate on Thursday when a committee of technical experts failed to agree on the proposal.

The European Union's executive and environmentalists say the "dirty" label is necessary to help fuel buyers choose the least carbon-intensive energy forms and help to curb global warming.

Canada, home to massive crude reserves most of which are in the form of very heavy crude known as tar sands or oil sands, has challenged the EU law, saying it is discriminatory and could damage trade ties.

Thursday's vote at a closed-door meeting of technical experts failed to reach a qualified majority under the EU's voting system, which weights voting to reflect the populations of the EU's member states.

Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said it was a victory against the tar sands lobbyists that it had not been a "no vote."

"With all the lobbyism against the Commission proposal, I feared that member states' experts would have rejected the proposal in today's experts committee. I am glad that this was not the case," Hedegaard said in a statement.

"Now our proposal will go to ministers, and I hope governments will realize that unconventional fuels of course need to account for their considerably higher emissions through separate values."

Ministers are expected to take a decision on the issue in June.   Continued...