CALGARY, Alberta - Montana's governor thinks Canadian-born director James Cameron should be aiming his criticism of Alberta's oil sands at more deserving targets.
Gov. Brian Schweitzer said Thursday he is tired of environmentalists and Hollywood celebrities such as Cameron "blowing smoke" when it comes to the oil sands.
"I would say this is conflict-free oil and I don't want to send one more son or daughter from Montana to defend an oil supply from one of these dictators and become dependent on that energy supply," he said in an interview with the Canadian Press from his office in Helena.
"Someday, I would say to him, we will not need the hydrocarbons. Someday we will run all electric cars. But in the meantime we need energy and the safest supply right now is coming from places like Alberta."
Schweitzer, who is a Democrat and spent seven years living in Saudi Arabia, wants to eliminate his country's reliance on foreign oil, but said that doesn't include oil from Alberta.
"For the most part Alberta is the exception. Most places around the world that are oil exporters have some of the most brutal regimes, their people have the fewest civil liberties and the individual citizens gain no particular wealth from the oil.
"Alberta oil is conflict-free energy."
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Cameron, the director of "Titanic" and "Avatar," toured the Alberta oil sands region for two days this week and told reporters that he is appalled that residents living downstream of the Alberta oil sands are getting cancer and catching deformed fish.
Regardless of what one thinks of Alberta's oil sands, he said, officials need to get to the bottom of what's happening in the tiny aboriginal community of Fort Chipewyan.
Cameron called the oil sands a gift that could turn into a curse if they are not managed properly and developed in a sustainable way.
Schweitzer said Cameron needs to put things into perspective.
"You think this is bad? Have you been to Nigeria? Do you see how they produce their crude oil there? They've poisoned every town along every pipeline route. The big rivers and lakes that used to produce large quantities of fish - the fish are all dead," Schweitzer said.
"Their pipelines leak. They've got rebels that are blowing up the pipelines all the time and running into the rivers. Really? You're going to compare the oil sands to that? Don't joke with me."
The Montana governor said he is tired of the United States having to prop up dictatorial regimes to guarantee his nation's energy needs.
"Any of these people who say they don't like the oil sands, you ought to ask them if they'll invite you to their house, and unless they're living naked in a cave and eating nuts, they are totally dependent on petrol.
"That petrol is either going to be produced in places like Montana and North Dakota and Alberta and Saskatchewan or it's going to be produced in places like Venezuela and Saudi Arabia and Nigeria. I would prefer it to come from friends than enemies."