Canadian ambassador to the US Gary Doer reiterated his country’s support—and its need—for the Keystone XL pipeline on Tuesday. Doer appealed to North America’s desire for greater energy security, saying “it makes good sense to proceed with energy independence and go with Canada, go with your friend, your neighbor and your ally since the war of 1812…Do you want your oil from Venezuela or do you want it from Canada?”There’s a clear economic rationale for approving the pipeline, which would transport oil from Alberta’s tar sands down to America’s Gulf Coast refineries. Building the pipeline would create jobs, and would certainly give the Canadian economy a boost by providing a cheap outlet to bring its heavy crude to the international market.The environmental concern is the only thing standing in the way of the project, and many greens are seeing the issue as a referendum on President Obama’s commitment to green ideals. The pipeline has galvanized the green movement, and as Bloomberg reports, tens of thousands of activists are preparing for a civil disobedience campaign should the US State Department recommend the pipeline’s approval:
Rainforest Action Network, Credo Action and the Other 98% have convinced about 76,000 volunteers to sign a “pledge to resistance.” In doing so, Keystone opponents are joining anti-nuclear activists and others who have used sit-ins and other forms of non-violent protest over the years to bring publicity to a cause.In signing the pledge, activists accept the risk of being arrested in communities along the pipeline’s path, at the State Department, or in offices of companies backing the line.
The green movement picked a poor issue on which to make a stand, because as report after report confirms, the Keystone XL pipeline will not increase greenhouse gas emissions, as environmentalists like Bill McKibben have so dramatically claimed. That’s because that oil is coming out of the ground, whether or not Obama permits the project. If not by pipeline, it will be transported to refineries by rail and by truck—more expensive and more dangerous options that themselves will actually increase emissions.It’s an odd sort of plan, but the modern green movement is no stranger to fecklessness and willful ignorance. TransCanada, the company ready to build the pipeline, now expects the White House to delay its decision until next March. President Obama is stalling for time, but his choice seems pretty easy to us: pick your biggest trading partner and closest ally over a portion of your base that is increasingly marginalizing itself.[Pipeline image courtesy of Shutterstock]