Keystone XL

Another Obama Policy Failure: Canada Approves New Oil Pipeline to Pacific Coast


Canada conflict oil

President Hamlet, I mean, Obama has been dithering for years over the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline that would transport nearly 1 million barrels of Canadian oilsands petroleum from Alberta to American refineries on the Gulf Coast. Several State Department environmental analyses have found that the pipeline is sufficiently safe and would have only a minor effect on the greenhouse gas emissions that are contributing to man-made global warming. Nevertheless, the president has decisively decided not to decide as he tries to avoid alienating either labor unions who favor construction of the pipeline or green activists who don't.

Since 97 percent of Canada's oil exports now go to the U.S., environmental activists fondly hoped that blocking U.S. approval of the Keystone pipeline would force Canadian oil companies to keep the oilsands crude in the ground. Fat chance. Today, the Associated Press is reporting that the Canadian government has approved a new pipeline that will transport more than 500,000 barrels of oil per day from Alberta to the Canadian west coast. That oil will be loaded onto 220 tankers per year and shipped to China.

From the AP:

Canada's government on Tuesday approved a controversial pipeline proposal that would bring oil to the Pacific Coast for shipment to Asia, a major step in the country's efforts to diversify its oil exports if it can overcome fierce opposition from environmental and aboriginal groups.

Approval for Enbridge's Northern Gateway project was expected as Canada needs infrastructure in place to export its growing oil sands production. The project's importance has only grown since the U.S. delayed a decision on TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline that would take oil from Alberta to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The northern Alberta region has the world's third largest oil reserves, with 170 billion barrels of proven reserves.

Enbridge's pipeline would transport 525,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta's oil sands to the Pacific to deliver oil to Asia, mainly energy-hungry China. About 220 large oil tankers a year would visit the Pacific coast town of Kitimat and opponents fear pipeline leaks and a potential tanker spill on the pristine Pacific coast.

Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said Canada's national interest makes the pipelines essential.

Way to go Mr. President!

For more background, see my article, "Obama's Devious Dithering Over the Keystone Pipeline."

Disclosure: Back in 2011, I went on a junket to report on the development of Alberta oil sands. My travel expenses were covered by the American Petroleum Institute. The API did not ask for nor did it have any editorial control over my reporting of this trip or, for that matter, any other reporting that I do. For more background, see my articles, "The Man-Made Miracle of Oil from Sand," and "Conflict Oil or Canadian Oil?"