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Hagan: U.S. Needs More Tar Sands

“We need to be buying more oil from Canada.”

That’s what Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) told a Canadian newspaper this weekend on a trip to the country to observe tar sands facilities (h/t The Hill).

Hagan’s comments are sure to cause quite a stir in the environmental community, which has for years been crowing about the greenhouse gas emissions associated with tar sands production. In recent months, environmentalists have set their sights on a massive proposed pipeline that will cut across the United States, raising questions about a safety waiver request by TransCanada, the pipeline owner, to pump oil at higher pressures through the line. TransCanada withdrew the application after the issue of pipeline safety gained more attention in light of a July pipeline burst and resulting oil spill in Michigan.

But Hagan’s comments also raise another important issue: national security. Hagan argues that importing more tar sands from Canada would reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil. Environmentalists counter that tar sands production results in too many greenhouse gas emissions and the country should begin weaning itself off oil altogether.

Update: Hagan spokeswoman Stephanie Allen said though Hagan believes the country needs to import more oil from Canada, the senator also supports renewable energy. According to a written statement from Allen: “Canada is our largest trading partner and provides 20 percent of U.S. oil imports, and Senator Hagan believes we need to continue to grow our trading relationship. Senator Hagan strongly supports investments in renewable energy, and helped make North Carolina the first and only state in the Southeast to require utilities to utilize renewable energy.”

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