Canada Can’t Wait to Start Pumping. The United States Can

From Economist

MINUTES after America’s State Department declared on January 31st that a proposed cross-border oil-pipeline would have little environmental impact, Canada’s ruling Conservatives posted an online ad bluntly directing Barack Obama to “approve Keystone XL now”. It is not the first time that Canada has dropped the diplomatic niceties when pressing Mr Obama to approve the Keystone pipeline, which would carry crude from Alberta’s tar sands to refineries on the Texas coast. Stephen Harper, Canada’s prime minister, has previously threatened to sell the oil to Asia, called approval a “no-brainer” and insisted he “would not take no for an answer”. But Mr Obama seems to be in no rush.

Developing the tar sands and exporting its oil is a priority for Mr Harper, whose political roots lie in energy-rich Alberta. The pipeline, which would carry up to 730,000 barrels a day (b/d) of Alberta crude and an additional 100,000 b/d of Bakken crude from Montana and North Dakota, was first proposed in 2008. The southern part of the proposed network, within the United States, went into operation last month. But the northern bit, which crosses the border, has been held up by court challenges and environmental reviews. Greens, who want tar-sands production curtailed, remind Mr Obama of his 2008 promise to “free [America] from the tyranny of oil once and for all”. The pipeline’s backers promise that it would bring jobs and investment.

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