Here’s breaking news for American environmentalists who are urging the President to block the Keystone XL pipeline project: There’s a new route in the works and it’s an all-Canadian one.
No, I’m not talking about a pipeline over the Rockies to the West Coast. Canada has environmentalists too – and First Nation activists who see the pipeline threatening their way of life. They’re just as opposed to the pipeline as American environmentalists are.
The answer? Go east.
According to Bloomberg News, a group headed by TransCanada Corporation plans to pipe the Albertan crude to New Brunswick. The new route would be nearly 3,000 miles long and it would cross six provinces, but there already is a lot of available natural-gas pipeline along this route.
A refinery in Saint John would process the oil for shipment to US and international buyers. And, according to the Bloomberg article, the east coast port would be a gateway to much bigger and more lucrative markets than any the Keystone XL pipeline would offer.
Naturally, the 10.7 billion-dollar project is not without problems. According to Bloomberg:
The project still faces political hurdles. U.S. and international greens who hate Keystone may not like this any better. In Quebec, where most new construction will occur, a homegrown environmental movement is already asking tough questions
But the existence of an alternative is expected to weaken US opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline. For one thing, it will put an end to the argument that blocking the pipeline would keep Alberta’s oil in the ground (an argument that is already undermined by the rail shipment of 160,000 barrels of Alberta crude a day to the U.S.).
I am as dismayed by climate change as anyone, and I yearn for a world free of fossil fuels. But I don’t see how blocking the Keystone XL pipeline will make that happen any sooner. As long as Americans must burn oil, they might as well burn Canadian oil. It certainly seems preferable to buying oil from the Mideast and enriching America’s deadliest foes.
Yes, I know there is danger of a rupture along the many miles of pipeline, a frightening threat to farms and fields, woods and rivers. But what is better? Shipping it by rail or truck? Haven’t you read about the exploding North Dakota rail cars? And don’t you realize what a hazard those oil tankers are on the roads?
Regardless of the manner in which it is transported, processed and consumed, oil is a nasty menace. But the answer lies in developing clean energy to end the industrialized world’s dependence on fossil fuels, not in singling out a pipeline here or a rail car there.