Give them marks for creativity. It was a group of environmental lobbies that targeted the Trans Canada Pipelines’ XL Pipeline that was designed to take Alberta oil-sands crude to Texas refineries. President Barack Obama finally got their message.
Their best visual was actually a bit of a bust but the idea of hundreds of people holding up a pipeline around the White House was the winning visual—even if the television shots of it were in disparate pieces. That, combined with the concern for the aquifer nature of the Sandhills of Nebraska, did the trick. President Obama had no choice but to stop the process. The delay is likely to ensure that Trans Canada Pipelines cannot make the deadline to start shipping oil-sands crude in mid 2013.
But the bad news for the environmentalists is that their work has just begun. With Trans Canada Pipelines on the mat and the referee counting, Enbridge, Trans Canada Pipelines’ competitor has emerged as the saviour for the Texas refineries. As Enbridge already has pipelines running from Alberta into Illinois, it does not have to get U.S. State Department approval to build an extension down to the Gulf Coast of Texas. President Obama cannot just call the State Department to stop Enbridge as easily as he was able to stop Trans Canada Pipelines.
And while the Enbridge route is a bit round about, it does not come close to Nebraska.
The environmentalists will have to beat their ploughshares back into swords and take the field again. And this time they are going to have to be wary of the Canadian Government. The Harper Conservatives want to sell oil-sands crude in volume and moving it by pipeline will give them a solid market for many years—certainly longer than they will be in power.
It is not as though more enlightened Canadians really care about the oil-sands. As long as the recovery of oil from them is a serious pollution problem, they would prefer that they just go away. And, if the pollution problem is solved, why do we not want to refine the oil in Canada?
Copyright 2011 © Peter Lowry
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