Economist Participating in Energy Study Tour in Canada

A University of Maine researcher who specializes in the economics of energy, light-duty transportation, greenhouse gas emissions and alternative fuels is heading to Alberta, Canada, Aug. 28-30 to participate in a tour of the Canadian oil sands region, which contains one of the largest proven oil reserves in the world second only to Saudi Arabia.

Jonathan Rubin, a professor in UMaine’s School of Economics and the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, was invited along with representatives from other U.S. academic and research institutions by the Canadian government, which is sponsoring the trip. The tour will include visits to the oil sands in Fort McMurray, Alberta, as well as meetings with experts and government officials, and opportunities to discuss collaboration.

Rubin notes many Americans may not realize Canada is now the largest supplier of crude oil to the U.S., accounting for about 25 percent of all imports. One concern about the oil from this region, he adds, is that it has about 15 percent more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional imported oil on a life cycle basis.

“This trip is an opportunity to get a first-hand account of environmental, economic and social aspects of Canadian oil sands production,” Rubin says.

Rubin’s research investigates low-carbon transportation fuels, biofuel pathways, and the potential economic and environmental impacts from trading greenhouse gases and fuel efficiency credits for automobiles and light-duty trucks. He is one of six researchers involved in the National Low Carbon Fuel Standard Project, which announced in July its findings that fuels of the future will be cleaner and cheaper if the U.S. adopts a national low-carbon fuel standard.