12/17/2014 09:10 EST | Updated 02/16/2015 05:59 EST

EU's 'Dirty' Label On Oilsands Narrowly Defeated In European Parliament Vote

FORT MCMURRAY, ALBERTA, CANADA - NOVEMBER 2008: Once the oil is extracted from the tar sand, the remains travel through a pipe to a tailing pond. The tailing ponds are highly criticised by enviromentalists because they contain many toxic products which are very dangerous. Pictured here is one of Syncrude Canada Ltd's tailing ponds. Tar sands, or oil sands, are very dense and contain a form of petroleum The world's largest reserves of tar sands in Canada and Venezuela. Tar sands could equate to approximately two thirds of the total global petroleum resource. Until recently it was financially not viable to extract the oil from the sands, but new technology and rising oil prices have now made it viable. (Photo by Veronqiue de Viguerie/Getty Images)

OTTAWA - Canadian oil sands exporters narrowly survived a vote today In the European Parliament that could have once again labelled Alberta bitumen as dirty oil.

A proposed fuel quality directive for European Union refineries has been the subject of intense lobbying for more than two years.

Canadian negotiators thought the matter was settled this fall when a compromise deal allowed Canadian bitumen to enter refinery feedstocks without being singled out as having a much more intense carbon footprint.

However the European Parliament's environment committee flatly rejected the proposal earlier this month, forcing today's vote.

More elected parliamentarians actually voted to reject the new fuel quality directive than accept it, however their numbers fell short of the absolute majority needed to overturn the proposed deal.

The fuel quality directive, as written, will now go to a ratification vote early in the New year.

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