As energy secretary Steven Chu continues his trip through the Middle East to discuss a range of energy issues, including energy security,” we ask: What else could have been accomplished by a quick trip to Canada, the U.S.’s largest energy importer and exporter?

Washington, DC – As U.S. secretary of energy Steven Chu continues his tour through the Middle East “to strengthen and expand U.S. relationships across the region” and “discuss a range of energy issues, including energy security and the importance of investing in a broad portfolio of energy technologies as part of the global economic recovery,” the Institute for Energy Research (IER) wonders about the comparative value of this trip weighed against one to Canada.

It has been nearly a year since Secretary Chu was confirmed by the U.S. Senate, but according to his Department of Energy website, it appears he still has yet to visit Canada—our most strategic trading partner and strongest hemispheric ally—from which we import more natural gas, refined gasoline and oil than any other country.

Despite this strong and critical energy trading partnership, some out-of-the-mainstream special-interest organizations who oppose our most affordable energy resources, as well as several governors, members of Congress and top administration officials, are actively working to antagonize Canada with a Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). Many of these LCFS backers wax poetic about the dire need for the U.S. to use less Middle Eastern oil. Yet, the core objective of a LCFS is to effectively ban the nearly 17 percent of our oil we import from Canada. The result? A deeper reliance on oil derived in the Middle Eastern and in other unfriendly, unstable regions of the world. Oh, and higher prices at the pump, too.

While Secretary Chu pairs his world travels with such important missions as encouraging Americans to paint their roofs white, Canada—obviously not willing to depend on an increasingly anti-energy Washington, D.C.—recently inked a lucrative oil sands trade deal with China. Perhaps our strongest competitor in the global economy, China realizes the importance of securing affordable and stable energy resources to continue to drive economic growth.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, nearly 2.1 trillion barrels of U.S. oil shale are currently kept off-limits by the federal government. These abundant, homegrown resources—coupled with Canada’s secure oil sands supplies—represent the largest oil reserves in the world. Still, Washington, and other elected officials throughout the country, considers policies such as an LCFS, which would effectively ban secure, job-creating Canadian energy imports to the U.S.

Perhaps, instead of provoking our partners in the world’s largest trade relationship, Secretary Chu’s time could be more wisely used to strengthen economic ties and “discuss a range of energy issues, including energy security” with top Canadian officials. If he waits much longer, we may have plenty of houses with white roofs and no energy to keep them warm. Even worse, we might not have enough oil-derived jet fuel necessary to make the secretary’s world gallivanting possible.

NOTE: According to an Energy Dept. press release, secretary Chu will travel to the energy rich nations of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the Emeritus Abu Dhabi. The estimated distance of this trip is roughly 15,363 miles. However, the distance from Washington, D.C. to Ottawa is roughly only 575 miles.

More from the Institute for Energy Research on Secretary Chu, Canada and U.S. energy policy:

For additional information, please contact Patrick Creighton, 202-621-2947, or Laura Henderson, 202-621-2951.


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