04/11/2011

Scrapping Keystone is OK with Me

Many of us tried to stop the whole idea of shipping tar sands bitumen to the US via the Keystone Pipeline and others before it really got off the ground here in Canada. We thought that shipping an unprocessed resource from Canada to the USA did nothing to create jobs here where the oil is produced.

You know the old question. Are we doomed to be tillers of wood and drawers of water while foreign owned corporations ship our raw materials out of the country for processing, creating high skilled, well paying jobs elsewhere?

 For a large part our concerns fell on deaf ears in Ottawa. Big Oil has a lot of clout here in Canada and our National Energy Board is not much more than a large industry rubber stamp.

Now it is the American's turn and they are having more success that we did here at home. They are raising quite a fuss about the pipelines. They just might block the whole idea and they have quite a few good reasons for doing so.

The American, National Wildlife Federations Says “The Keystone tar sands oil pipeline -- which would pump nearly one million barrels per day of dirty tar sands oil right through Nebraska and five other heartland states, putting the whooping crane at risk of a devastating oil spill.”

Many Americans call the State Department’s review of Keystone a sham suggesting “...the process...is a crime in progress.”

And the Ian Somerhalder Foundation, whoever they are, says Tar sands oil is amongst the dirtiest and carbon-intensive fuels on earth with a carbon emission three times that of regular oil.
  • The use of this tar sands oil could accelerate climate change at a time when we so desperately need to slow it down and return earth to a stable climate.
  • The Keystone XL pipeline will carry toxic tar sands oil 1,700 miles from Alberta, Canada through the middle of the US heartland on its way to the Gulf. The pipeline would cross the massive Ogallala aquifer, which supplies drinking water in 8 US states, and irrigation for millions of acres of farmland that supply the nation’s food. 
  • We've already seen the damage the thick tar sands oil laden with volatile compounds can do from the spill in the Yellowstone River last month and the Kalamazoo River a year ago.
  • Tar sands oil is more abrasive and corrosive than conventional oil and current regulations and safety standards are not fit for the transport of this kind of oil. 
  • The first Keystone pipeline, developed with state-of-the-art technology, has already spilled 12 times in its first year in operation. 
  • Canadian towns near the tar sands production are already reeling from the impacts of this dirty fuel. They have lost valuable Boreal forests releasing stored carbon and it has destroyed vital habitat for endangered species along with other large populations of wildlife. Waters have been polluted, wildlife has died, and health problems are increasing.
  • We can not allow the foreign corporation TransCanada to jeopardize America's drinking water in the name of profits for private industry. 
  • The pipeline would keep our country addicted to this unsustainable and highly polluting fossil fuel even longer. 
  • Denying the permit will send a powerful signal that the United States is boldly taking action on climate change and clean energy by refusing to be tethered to the energy sources of the past. 

The Americans have never had much of a problem buying their oil from oppressive and dictatorial regimes as long as those countries were prepared to keep the US arms industry flush with orders for newer and better weapons but whooping cranes? That is another matter.

But, the big push in the US is starting to get under Big Oil’s skin. This week they are starting to push back saying if Keystone approval doesn’t come soon, they’ll simply ship this product to Asia opening up new big markets for Canadian oil.

Frankly, that is ok with me. I never was a fan of Keystone, and at least there is no free trade agreement with Asian countries which would demand that we continue shipping them oil at a fixed rate no matter what domestic demand in Canada happens to be.

Before we do that however, what I suggest that we do,  is something that should have been done years ago, assuming we had any leaders in Ottawa, with backbone. That is to start the long overdue process of building pipelines around the Great Lakes and into Eastern Canada. Dig up those pipelines and insert a sharp left turn east of Regina and ship our own oil east. We then could open up some of those mothballed refineries east of Montreal and end our dependence on foreign oil.

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