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Other Views: Obama’s decision won’t stop tar-sands mining

GRAND FORKS -- If President Barack Obama actually thought that rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline would keep Alberta tar sands oil "in the ground," Canadians would like to disabuse him of that notion.

GRAND FORKS -- If President Barack Obama actually thought that rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline would keep Alberta tar sands oil “in the ground,” Canadians would like to disabuse him of that notion.
For as a review of Canadian reports on the rejection show, there’s about as much chance of Canada making the tar sands a no-dig zone as there is of North Dakota permanently capping its Bakken wells.
In other words, none.
The resource will be used; how much and how fast depend only on the price of oil. Which means Obama’s decision will have a real-world impact, all right. But that impact will fall heaviest on the American workers who’ll go without pipeline-construction jobs, as the long-term effect on Canadian oil production is likely to be slim to none.
A few quotes that make the case:
Canada already is shipping more oil to the United States, even without the Keystone XL pipeline.
The anti-Keystone opposition “has done little to stop the surge of Alberta crude flowing through the U.S. pipeline systems,” writes Yadullah Hussain in Canada’s Financial Post.
“Canadian crude oil exports to the U.S. soared to 3.4 million barrels per day in August - a new record.”
Meanwhile, “between 2009 and 2013, more than 8,000 miles of oil transmission pipelines have been built in the U.S.,” Hussain continued. “By last year, the U.S. had built 12,000 miles of pipe since 2010.”
The disputed stretch of the Keystone XL pipeline, by comparison, was slated to run for all of 875 miles through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. As the mayor of Calgary put it, “I am very disappointed that one pipe, nearly a meter wide, is being asked to bear all of the sins of the carbon economy.”
Canada plans to recover the oil one way or the other. “Now both TransCanada and the Liberal government are looking hopefully toward another project: the proposed Energy East pipeline,” Hilary Beaumont of VICE News reported.
“Traversing Canada, North America’s longest proposed pipeline would repurpose an existing natural gas pipeline to carry 1.1 million barrels of crude oil per day from Alberta and Saskatchewan to refineries in Quebec and New Brunswick. ... (Canada’s new Prime Minister Justin) Trudeau had expressed uncertainty over Energy East during the election, but a spokesman said the Liberals now support the project.”
Bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress can’t forever be denied. If only four more Democratic senators change their minds, Congress can approve the Keystone XL pipeline legislatively. Obama’s decision will be reversed if a Republican wins the presidency, too.
As Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., has said, “I believe that ultimately the project will be approved based on the merits and strong support from the public.”
The Grand Forks Herald’s Editorial Board formed this opinion.

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