Keystone approval: a bargain with the devil?

The world knows that Ambassador Doer has been a cheerleader for the Keystone pipeline. So his writing a support letter for Keystone XL is not really a news story.

What makes his letter to the US State Department interesting was a two line statement buried in a three page letter. Doer wrote:

“Our energy and environment officials are currently assessing common energy issues, including potential oil and gas issues, which we could usefully address together.”

At beginning of 2013, we reported on the efforts of a group of Canadian politicians who blitzed Washington pressuring for a favourable decision on Keystone XL.  During discussions with high-ranking members of the US administration hints were dropped that approval would be easier if the Canadian Government showed it was serious about regulating GHG emissions from the tar sands.

Premier Redford of Alberta was negative about further regulation.  She stated that she was proud of Alberta’s management of the tar sands.  She wrote a column for the business newspaper US Today  “Keystone was Responsible oil Sands Development.”

Perhaps she and the rest of our politicians expected their economic and energy security arguments to persuade President Obama to approve Keystone.  So Canada continued to do nothing.  Today, the long promised regulations of the tar sands remain just that – long promised.

Doer’s statement is perhaps too vague and too general to be treated as a change of Canada’s policy. Yet it is no coincidence that Brad Wall, the Premier of Saskatchewan and a tar sands promoter, seems to agree with Doer.

Last year Wall was proud of Canada’s Record.  This year Sun News quoted Premier Wall as saying:

“It’s fair to say as Canadians, provincial governments, the federal government, companies, have focused on the economics thinking that – given the nature of the economy – it should win the day,”

“But on Keystone it hasn’t. What we need to do is give this administration the environmental elbow room they need to approve it.”

Perhaps if the Canadian Government were to cap tar sands emissions, approval of Keystone would be well-nigh assured.  That result would be a pyrrhic victory for the fossil fuel industry. Capping emissions would limit production from the tar sands so that Keystone XL would not be necessary and may prove to be uneconomic.

Canadians should understand that Keystone is one project that should never see the light of day! Politicians need to understand that there are many Canadians who think Canada’s failure to regulate the tar sands is a national disgrace.

If you agree, send an email to Ambassador Doer that Keystone should be stopped! And send a copy of your email to your member of Parliament. Find your MP’s email address here and look here for tips on writing an effective letter to politicians.

For more on the efforts of Canadian politicians to sell Keystone go to our February 3, 2013 blog “A Line in the Sand!”

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