Pembrokeshire community urges Nick Clegg to keep tar sands oil out of Europe

This article has been re-posted from the UK Tar Sands Network website.

Keep Tar Sands Out of Europe

From left to right: Lucy Patterson (Push Europe), Eleanor Clegg (Pembrokeshire Friends of the Earth), Isobel Braithwaite (Healthy Planet UK), Philippa de Boissiere (UK Tar Sands Network), Emily Coats (UK Tar Sands Network), Nicolò Wojewoda (350.org). Photo by Suzanne Dhaliwal.

Today Eleanor Clegg, Llangolman resident and member of Pembrokeshire Friends of the Earth, was joined by a coalition of concerned citizens and campaigners to present a petition to Nick Clegg in Whitehall, London. The petition, organised UK Tar Sands Network, 350.org, Campaign Against Climate Change, People & Planet, and Pembrokeshire Friends of the Earth, urged the Deputy Prime Minister to support the EU Fuel Quality Directive (FQD), legislation which will discourage imports of tar sands oil to Europe. The petition pointed out that increasing amounts of tar sands oil are expected to be imported to the UK, especially via Valero‘s refinery in Pembroke. Valero, a key supporter of the Keystone XL pipeline which would take tar sands oil to Texas, has also been the target of recent protests in the Gulf Coast. The petition had 4,000 signatures, and was received by the Deputy Prime Minister’s office, who claimed they were unaware of Valero’s plans to import tar sands oil to the UK.

The Canadian tar sands industry has received a barrage of international criticism from environmentalists and human rights campaigners for its devastating effects on nearby Indigenous communities, decimation of local ecosystems and contribution to global climate change.

A key issue of concern in Europe is the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD), which, if implemented as planned, would label tar sands as highly carbon intensive, thereby cutting off the EU market from tar sands-derived fuels and potentially setting a precedent for other markets to refuse tar sands oil. The legislation has been met with unprecedented lobbying from the Canadian government and oil industry, delaying the proposal significantly. The UK government has been one of several member states reluctant to support the proposal, abstaining at the last vote in February 2012. Another vote of EU member states is expected in October 2013.

“I have travelled to London today on behalf of my community because Pembrokeshire is likely to be the first port of call for tar sands oil to enter the UK,” said Eleanor, from Pembrokeshire Friends of the Earth. “Our community is strongly opposed to a fuel derived from such an environmentally damaging source being refined and used in Britain, and we certainly don’t want it imported through local ports. The Fuel Quality Directive is our best chance at slowing the rate of tar sands expansion and we urge Nick Clegg to step in and ensure the UK supports it.”

Eleanor and Emily

Eleanor from Friends of the Earth Pembrokeshire and Emily from UK Tar Sands Network to present petition to Nick Clegg. Photo by Suzanne Dhaliwal

“It is absurd that our government has been so receptive to the aggressive lobbying from the Canadian government and oil industry,” said Philippa de Boissiere, from the UK Tar Sands Network. “The vote in October will be a pivotal moment for both the tar sands industry and the reputation of the Liberal Democrats, who can expect to see an escalation of campaigning on the issue by the climate movement in the UK. Will Clegg drive a stake through the expansion of the world’s most destructive industrial project– or through his own reputation as a green force in the Coalition government?”

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