Energy Independence Will Die With The Keystone Pipeline

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

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3 Responses

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  1. Christopher Rushlau
    Dec 26, 2012 - 04:24 PM

    This is a good subject for political philosophers. The problem, as a proponent of this concept said on the radio the other day, and as the environmentalist opposite-number in the discussion seemed to agree, is not a technologically avante-garde means of extracting the “shale oil” that might, conceptually speaking, spring a leak. Fracking is apparently an entirely reliable procedure. The problem will come, as they said but without much emphasis, in making sure the procedure is followed.
    That brings us to the major battleground these days, that of regulation. The regulatory scheme and execution has to be sufficient to make sure the procedure is followed. I can suggest, not knowing the details, that if you have a trillion gallons of polluted water in some point of the process, you have to have built the facility and have it running properly to clean the trillion gallons of water in a timely fashion.

    Looking at the sloppiness with which the Global War On Terror is fought, and for once profiting from the principle that murder is worse than theft, and theft worse than littering, we might find that, while we can’t manage the moral focus to do a good job on capital crimes, we can at least monitor some littering.
    There is another way to look at the GWOT as an indicator of political fashion and health. The GWOT depends ninety eight percent on lying: lying about Israel as a legitimate state, lying about the motivation of Islamic politics, lying about the effectiveness (let along the legality) of our response to those two issues, lying about anything that might draw attention to the prevalence of lying,… If our politcal culture is thoroughly saturated with lying (I won’t say “liars”, because, unlike lawyers, liars aren’t known as such by their holding a licence, so lying, unlike lawyering, isn’t any sort of persistent condition), we may not be able to handle any major project. Or even business as usual.
    I define lying as your not telling someone what they have a right to know from you. If they have no right to know, you can say anything or nothing. If they do have a right, your silence is not a defense. A torts professor said that Anglo-American legal tradition never requires the citizen to do anything good, merely to refrain from doing something bad. That may be alright, but it would then only prove that there is more to politics than law, raising the question of the politics of the law. Hence, the politics of the lie.



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