Why Keystone XL Should be Built

abarrelfullabarrelfull wrote on 03 Feb 2014 09:35
Tags: canada pipeline transcanada usa

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On Friday, the long awaited Keystone XL Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement was released by the US State Department. It appears to be supportive of the project.

Immediately, positive reactions came from Transcanada, CAPP and the Canadian Energy Minister.

Key conclusions about the Keystone XL Pipeline Project include:

  • Keystone XL is "unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands
  • All other alternatives to Keystone XL are less efficient methods of transporting crude oil
  • Keystone XL will support approximately 42,100 direct, indirect and induced jobs

CAPP adds that among the top five suppliers of oil to the U.S. (Canada, Mexico, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela), only Canada has GHG regulations in place. So buying from the alternatives is not a green option.

To give a concrete example of what this means: In 2012 Statoil increased oil sands production by more than 60% and reduced CO2 intensity by almost 24%.

The Canadian Minister, make a similar point:

  • Keystone XL would displace oil from Venezuela and the Middle East with a stable, democratic and environmentally responsible continental supply

Demonising Canada’s oil sands may be fun, but it does not have any impact on climate change, whilst potentially handing extra US money to regimes whose record on the environment, not to mention human rights, good governance and a host of other issues, leaves much to be desired.

Like all economic activity, pipelines carry risks. The oil sector as a whole poses a number of risks to the environment, not just GHG emissions. Unless we have a plan to live without oil (in a manner that does not massively disrupt our lives), we need to focus on how to manage and minimise these risks.

Additionally, if the USA does not buy Canadian crude oil, the Canadians will be force to sell it to the Chinese or other buyers. This means transporting the oil half the way around the world, to refineries that are not subject to US style regulations. It means strengthening the USA’s global competitor. It means US refineries continue to buy ever more oil from unpleasant regimes.

The combination of Canadian and US oil has the potential to wean US refiners off of Middle Eastern crude oils. That means less US interest in the World’s hotspots. It means a less imperial US Government. Surely this is something that the environmentalists would like to see.

Demonising Keystone XL might feel nice, but stopping it will not make the world a better place.

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