Obama dithers while public confidence withers

Posted November 18, 2014

The recent U.S. mid-term elections saw the Republican Party take control of both houses of Congress. The House of Representatives acted swiftly and passed a bill supporting TransCanada Pipeline’s Keystone XL pipeline. The proposed pipeline would transport Canadian oil from the Oil Sands in Alberta to Gulf coast refineries in Texas. It is widely expected that the U.S. Senate will obtain the required super majority of 60 votes and also pass a bill supporting the Keystone XL project.

In the event the bill from Congress reaches the President’s desk, he has indicated he will probably veto it.

For six years, President Barak Obama has delayed approving this project that crosses the border separating our two countries.

He now says: “Understand what this project is: It is providing the ability of Canada to pump their oil, send it down to the Gulf where it will be sold everywhere else.”

To clear the air about this long-running delay of a legitimate and safe method of moving heavy oil in greater quantity, be reminded that more than 500,000 barrels of Canadian oil is already being shipped to the U.S. daily. One of the main conduits is through the original Keystone pipeline that was approved by former president, George W. Bush.

This has little to do with the proposed pipeline but is an attempt by well-financed U.S. environmental groups to prevent a sovereign country to develop and sell its resources in a responsible manner. They do this because they make false claims about the danger to the environment of the Canadian Oil Sands’ alleged damage to the atmosphere.

Yet, the United States allows coal-fired power generation plants to spew carbon night and day into the atmosphere. You rarely hear a peep from the environmentalists about this situation that also affects major Canadian population centres close to the border.

The irony of this specious attempt to interfere with the right of Canada to develop and export its resources is the huge investment of U.S. corporations in the Oil Sands development.

The Obama administration speaks out of both sides of its mouth at the same time. It allows the importation of heavy oil from Venezuela to the Texas and Louisiana refineries. It also still imports oil from Saudi Arabia, despite the increase of domestic oil and gas production achieved through fracking.

Before mounting the concerted multi-million dollar anti-Keystone XL pipeline attacks, America should look inwardly at one of its own environmental disasters. Key among these is the drilling for water in the market garden valley of California that produces one third of fresh food sold in the country. A 60 Minutes report revealed those wells are being drilled down by more than 1,200 feet to access ground water to produce this food. There are parts in the valley that are actually sinking because of this intense removal of groundwater from aquifers that cannot be replaced by rainfall.

And which country in the world has one-third of the world’s supply of fresh water? It’s Canada. With the longterm extreme drought in parts of the south and southwest of the U.S., the time may come when the U.S. will look north to tap into Canada’s water.

Now there’s a real dilemma. Does it portend the break-up of relations between the two countries? If history has any credence, the U.S. has a record of taking what it wants. The occupation of Iraq comes to mind. When a state with almost unlimited military resources attacks a country to protect its oil interests in the Middle East, why does its leadership reject an almost unlimited oil supply from a secure and stable neighbour?

Why does President Obama have such a shortsighted view of siding with the pipeline opponents when the demand for resources is escalating in his own country? No amount of fracking will meet the future demands of fossil fuels in America. That is currently self evident with the importation of oil into the U.S.

It’s not a legacy issue, it’s a dumb thing to do. It’s about trust, energy security, and infinite job opportunities on both sides of the border.

If the President vetoes the Keystone XL pipeline, Canadians will not soon forget it.

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4 Comments

Filed under Between the Lines

4 responses to “Obama dithers while public confidence withers

  1. Keith McEwen

    Gerry,

    I think you are way off base on this. Set aside the potential environmental disasters at both ends and in the middle of this pipe, Why can’t Canada refine it’s own oil?

    Do we have to rely on big brother for everything and remain nothing but a source of raw materials? How about putting some Canadians to work? The labour in Louisana is a lot cheaper and they don’t have to pay for health care. What good does that do us?

    Keith McEwen

    • Keith McEwen: We don’t have the infrastructure to refine our oil let alone ship it overseas. We need the Eastern pipeline to feed the Montreal and New Brunswick refineries that are currently getting feedstock from Alberta by rail. Also the Great Northern pipeline to the west coast port of Kitimat is facing durable oppositions from First Nations and British Columbia. All these projects are going to take years to come on line. The Keystone XL will take Oil Sands bitumen to the Gulf Coast refineries for an outlet to the world markets. The perfect solution is for all three projects to come into play in the next five years. Thanks for your comments.

  2. CW

    Map of the Keystone Pipeline: http://cdn.stripersonline.com/9/93/93db9582_keystone-xl-map.jpeg – What I find interesting about this debate around the pipeline is, it largely already exists. The Keystone XL expansion will add another 510,000 barrels, but it also could eventually supplant or make redundant the original ‘Phase 1’ section heading east. If this portion (‘Phase 1’) of the pipeline was phased out, environmentalists may be appeased as the amount of oil moving through the pipeline would fall.

    Personally, I would rather see this oil move through a pipe over land then by sea from Nigeria or Saudi Arabia.

    We differ in two places though Gerry: I don’t think this will make it through the Senate, and if it does, I don’t think Obama will veto it. At this point in his administration he needs to deal, and it could be another ‘foot-in-mouth’ moment for Obama to veto a bill that actually has completed the Herculean task (in this current administration) of making it all the way through the House and Senate. Remember that the GOP controlled Senate does not sit until the new year. For the XL expansion to pass, Democrats WILL have to vote for it.

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