It has been five years since TransCanada submitted its application for a presidential permit, which is required for any pipelines crossing international borders. Both the governments of Alberta and Canada have been advocating for President Obama to approve the pipeline.
Supporters of the pipeline point to the jobs it would create, both during the construction phase and to maintain it. It is also widely believed that the pipeline would guarantee energy security for North America.
Elizabeth May rejects this notion and besides stating the damage the pipeline would cause to the environment with Alberta Oil Sands expansion and the emission of green house gases, she pleads with Kerry to reject it because it would also cause damage to the Canadian economy.
In her letter she points to four facts, according to Ms May and her party, which should be reason enough to reject the venture:
a. Keystone hurts the Canadian economy: The Keystone pipeline — along with the other proposed pipelines across the country — would carry unrefined bitumen mixed with “diluents” (dilbit). These projects would make Canada’s economy even more dependent on the export of unprocessed fossil fuels, leaving us in a vulnerable position when the carbon bubble bursts.
b. Keystone doesn’t promote North American energy security: As proposed, the diluents which are added to make dilbit would come from Saudi Arabia, so dilbit would not be the 100% Canadian product being advertised. Since the diluents which are added to make dilbit would come from Saudi Arabia, shipping raw bitumen by pipeline would do nothing to unplug North American from Middle East energy dependency.
c. Keystone won’t replace rail transportation: Let’s do the math — if Stephen Harper succeeds with his plan to increase oil sands production to 6 million barrels per day (mbd), then even with Keystone’s capacity of 0.8 mbd and Enbridge’s 0.5 mbd we would be well short of transporting it all by pipeline. In fact, bitumen transport by rail would have to increase, creating an even larger load on our already struggling rail infrastructure.
d. Keystone limits our ability to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions: There is no doubt, based on the US State Department’s report, that Keystone will lead to growth in the oil sands. And that is what this issue is about. Reaching Stephen Harper’s goal of 6 mbd is simply not possible without Keystone XL. At Copenhagen, Canada promised to reduce CO2 emissions from our 2005 level of 737 megatons (MT) to 607 MT by 2020. Under Stephen Harper’s leadership our emissions are on track to be 734 MT — all progress on emission reduction at the provincial level is being wiped out by oil sands growth.
Miss May is an environmental advocate that does not speak for Canada nor the province of Alberta. She fails to see the reality of the current energy situation and stubbornly pursues her agenda. The politics of oil-Green energy alternatives outlines some of the difficulties encountered with the radical element of the environmental movement. They have put an inordinate amount of pressure on the Obama administration and approval has been delayed regardless of positive results of two environmental impact assessments.
The new buzz word in the green movement is “sustainable energy.
According to anti-oil sands lobbyists oil is evil and stopping the development of the Alberta oilsands will avert a global disaster. The process has been politicized both in the United States and Canada.
The XL Keystone Pipeline, was put on hold earlier this year by President Obama claiming environmental concerns, specifically the Nebraska Sandhills. Congress attempted to force the President’s hand by including the approval of he pipeline in various bills, which prompted the President to reject the pipeline outright. A Presidential permit is required when pipelines cross international borders.
Obama’s rejection came after weeks of anti-oilsands protests in Washington, including high profile Hollywood celebrities. Hollywood is a major supporter of the Obama campaign, with George Clooney committing to raise $12 Million in a fundraiser on Thursday.
Add to that the voice of Robert Redford, who claimed that the rejection was a spectacular blow against the oilsands and would change the world.
“The decision to shelve the proposal, gushed Hollywood activist Robert Redford, “represents a victory of historic proportions for people from throughout the pipeline path and all across America who have waged an uphill, years-long fight against one of the most nightmarish fossil fuel projects of our time.” Ethical Oil.org
Prime Minister Stephen Harper leads a majority government much to the dislike of the political left. The Harper government put an end to the lengthy pipeline approval process, which permitted every lobbyist to testify often repeating the same questions just to stretch out the process. The Harper government has limited the approval process to 24 months.
In Canada, the environmental lobby has turned up the heat on the Harper government. The assessment and approval process for pipeline projects have been dragged out over years, with lobby groups signing up to testify in front of commissions, more often than not repeating the same testimony over and over again. The Harper government is seeking to streamline the process by limiting the process to two years. In its 2012/13 budget the Canadian government has included major revisions to environmental policy. One third of the budget contains changes to environmental policy and legislation.
The government, which claims that some charities foreign money from foreign environmental groups to advocate against the oilsands, has put policies in place to take away their charity status. To say the least the heat is on.
Read more here
Elizabeth May’s letter is an act of desperation, which does little for sustainable responsible energy and does not take the current geopolitical situation with Russia’s expansion of its territory. Although May has apparently realized that fossil fuels are a part of sustainable energy for some time to come, she advocates for Canada to refine its own crude.
Having observed the attempt to build refineries and upgraders in this area, one realizes the difficulty of finding locations for these projects. Of five possible proposed upgraders in the Alberta Heartland, only a couple have reached the approval stage. No one wants refineries or upgraders in their backyards and to some extend it infringes on property rights.
While Canada is in the process of approving pipelines both to the West Coast and pursuing a reversal of a current pipeline that would move oil to the Irving refinery on the East Coast, Keystone is an important mix in the pursuit of North American energy independence.
May’s letter to John Kerry is ill advised and misguided. Alberta is the growth engine in Canada and pays for many of the social programs that the political left worships. Not building this pipeline would hurt the Canadian economy not the other way around.
North America requires a long term vision on energy independence that includes fossil fuels and green alternatives. As has been demonstrated in Germany green energy, solar and wind generated energy cannot stand alone.
Both President Obama and John Kerry have publicly stated that the science on climate change is settled. This is contradicted by some scientists and the recent IPCC report on climate change had its original report manipulated and changed to support the climate change scenario. It is unlikely that President Obama will make a decision to approve the pipeline anytime soon. While unions support the project, Obama cannot alienate the environmental lobby, which is spending billions to keep Democrats in power.
May, as a Parliamentarian, along with other opposition leaders, should advocate for and not against Canada. Keystone must be approved, especially in light of the proposed sanctions against Putin’s Russia.