Dumb Opposition to Keystone Pipeline Okay, but Not Helpful…
Over 83 environmental groups sent a letter to President Obama to protest progress on the Keystone XL pipeline, a project currently in the approval phase which would streamline the delivery of Canadian oil and gas to the U.S. These same activists held a rally outside the White House to alert Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper of their opinion during his recent U.S. visit. But this minority conglomeration of rabble rousers doesn’t represent the desires of the greater American public, or grasp the realities of energy policy in the U.S or Canada.
The development of the Keystone XL pipeline would increase America’s oil supply to meet growing demand, while delivering fuel at a reduced price to benefit everyone at the gas pump. Even more important, it will provide far greater energy security, aligning the United States with a trusted and stable neighbor. Amazingly, this compelling U.S. investment to secure our energy future now faces delays due to the misguided and clueless campaign against anything and everything oil being led by the ‘green’ activists. This kind of opposition is insidious and in many ways damaging to our economy. It is quite unfortunate that it generates reaction by policy-makers while it should be considered outright for what it is: silly.
The NRDC, Sierra Club, and others have taken issue with Canada – already the United States’ most reliable energy supplier – because some of Canada’s vast energy resources exist in rocky clay-like deposits dubbed oil sands. Extracting crude from these sands has been technologically challenging but true to form the industry has responded well, and some of the past concerns, raised by industry and environmental stakeholders alike have been resolved. The high demand for these resources has driven new methods and technologies for extracting the oil, significantly reducing environmental effects. These new technologies, along with the barren and isolated locations of these sands in Northern Alberta, have made Canadians more than happy to produce the supply which U.S. demand requires. In fact, 20 percent of U.S. oil imports now come from Canada.
The continual improvements in oil sands extraction are not the only reality activists have turned against. Baseless claims have also been made regarding the safety of time-tested oil pipelines. Pipelines have proven by far the safest and most publicly supported method of transportation. In Nebraska alone – a state the pipeline will traverse – there are over 21,000 miles of pipelines delivering needed resources to residents. TransCanada, a highly respected Canadian company that will build the pipeline, has a proven safety record with over fifty years of experience. Still, those blindly in opposition to fossil fuels have had the audacity to call pipeline safety into question as a basis for halting this project.
The reality of the situation is the United States needs oil. Trends indicate national energy demand is growing, not shrinking, so supply must grow as well. Those living in a dreamland have claimed that renewable energy and clean technologies can supply the country with its energy needs if only oil imports would stop. Currently, all renewable sources account for less than 8 percent of U.S. supply, much of it hydroelectric, only fraction of a percent for the darlings of environmentalists, wind and solar. And all this after billions annually in government subsidies. If oil imports stopped, energy prices would shoot through the roof while most of the country would screech to a halt and plunge into darkness for the next several decades.
So it is established that the U.S. needs oil; the next question is where to get it. China would love it if the U.S. quits competing for oil. The Chinese are using their state run oil companies to aggressively snatch up global energy resources (in fact, they are even investing in bringing the Canadian oil in question to Asian markets). America already imports a substantial amount from the Middle East, as well as Africa and South America, but the price spikes resulting from Egyptian turmoil would suggest that placing more reliance on these classically unstable locations is a bad move.
The best option would be domestic production, creating American jobs and a steady supply within the country; but the Administration is opposed to this idea. From the Gulf moratorium and eliminating the potential of drilling off the Eastern seaboard, to new proposed taxes which will cripple America’s energy industry; domestic production seems off the table… until the next election anyway.
Then there is Canada. The U.S. and Canada have close diplomatic relations, they share a border which means shipping costs and emissions will be limited, and the country has vast resources. Even if the U.S. stepped up production, imports would still be a necessity until around 2050 when new technologies of not just generating but using energy sources should finally start becoming competitively priced and marketable.
America is a country where anyone can voice their opinion on anything. Britney Spears can say “war is a dangerous place,” Al Gore can think he invented the internet, and green activists can claim the Keystone XL Pipeline is bad. Luckily for the rest of us, America also offers people the freedom to simply dismiss or ignore the dumb ideas of others.