The Keystone Pipeline, a plan to bring oil and gas from the rich Canadian oil fields in the north of Alberta to the refineries in the American South, has been delayed by President Obama. Prime Minister Harper of Canada has said publicly that if America doesn’t want our energy, we’ll sell it to China.
He wasn’t joking.
I am a resident of British Columbia, Canada. Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines has begun running a commercial to promote the new Canadian alternative to the Keystone Pipeline.
This pipeline would ship Canadian crude oil to China, India and Asia, and would be capable of shipping the majority of easily extractable Canadian oil. If this pipeline is finished, Canada has no need for the Keystone Pipeline. At all. The Northern Gateway Pipeline is shorter and it ships to a trade partner who actually wants our oil. It makes Canada more valuable to China, and gives us negotiating power on tariffs and currency manipulation. It would create thousands and thousands of Canadian jobs, and allow Canada to become a world leader in oil production.
If either pipeline is built, Canada wins. There is no downside to building the Northern Gateway Pipeline.
Even though you could make a strong argument that Northern Gateway helps Canada more, as the construction of the pipeline would employ more Canadians than the Keystone Pipeline; Prime Minister Harper still tried to help out America, our closest ally, before supplying oil to China.
The only people hurt by President Obama’s failure to green-light the Keystone Pipeline are the American people, and any people who dream of an energy independent North America.
The President’s energy-killing policies inhibit the growth of both of our nations, and continues along the path he himself predicted, towards a world where energy prices “necessarily skyrocket“.
Ironically, the only thing that may still allow the Keystone pipeline to go forward is radical environmentalists.
For once, I am happy to live in a province that is so environmentally conscious. For once, the British Columbian legislature’s kowtowing to the radical fringe of the environmentalist movement may actually help something I believe in. The same groups who attempted to block the Keystone Pipeline’s Canadian length are now actively fighting the Northern Gateway as well. While Alberta, the Texas of Canada, overcame the protestation of the activists and fought successfully for the Keystone Pipeline to be approved, British Columbia is rabidly green. Any pipeline to China has to be built through British Columbia, which the population will fight tooth and nail.
In March, the President publicly supported the project, saying specifically:
“[r]ight now, a company called TransCanada has applied to build a new pipeline to speed more oil from Cushing to state-of-the-art refineries down on the Gulf Coast…And today, I’m directing my administration to cut through the red tape, break through the bureaucratic hurdles, and make this project a priority, to go ahead and get it done.”
While he has since changed his tune, there is still time to get Keystone going. If President Obama fails to act, energy prices will skyrocket. When that happens, he must be held accountable for his self-fulfilling prophecy. Sadly, I don’t believe he will do the right thing. But maybe, for once, President Obama will surprise me.
Luke Stibbs | University of the Fraser Valley (BC) | @LukeStibbs