The gap between U.S. President Barack Obama's Keystone announcement and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's response is indicative of the fundamental choice that this government needs to make between the oil industry and real climate action. Unfortunately, it's a choice that Trudeau doesn't seem to understand yet.
Both Trudeau and his new ministers have their work cut out from them when it comes to really getting Canada back on course on climate. That's why today, I'm outside of Trudeau's home with dozens of other people kicking off what could be largest act of civil disobedience on climate change in Canada's history.
As a member of the minority of 99 per cent, I am dreaming that a high-ranking volunteer of the new government would give me advice on how to influence the newly-elected prime minister who will negotiate next December's Paris Conference and the necessary reduction of greenhouse gases.
Justin Trudeau's speech on the importance of North America on Monday echoed most of the current wisdom on Canada's standing in North America -- we're in trouble and the issue needs some serious attention. The idea for a cabinet level committee on the U.S. relationship proposed by Trudeau is good, but in reality it would have to be a committee on North America, which means including Mexico. And Trudeau seemed half way there in his speech.
Just about every aspect of our lives involves a certain amount of risk, of course. It's all about risk management. And indeed, despite the occasional high-profile accident like last week's spill in California, pipelines in general remain very safe. One realistic alternative to transporting Canadian oil by pipeline is transporting that same oil by train or by truck. Yet both of these methods of transport are less safe than pipelines. Logically, then, we should transport as much oil as we can by pipe, and as little as possible by rail or road.
Four recent oil-train derailments--two in the United States and two in Canada accompanied by yet another drive-by rhetorical smear of the Keystone XL pipeline by U.S. President Barack Obama--have re-invigorated the debate over how Canadians and Americans transport oil.
First, Keystone XL does NOT "bypass the United States," as the President claimed it did in the earlier statement. A consultants report from IHS Energy found in February that "Canadian crude making its way to the USGC (the US Gulf Coast) will likely be refined there, and most of the refined products are likely to be consumed in the United States."
We can continue to resist and block pipelines like Keystone XL, in spite of their impressive safety record, but we cannot avoid the inevitable consequences of such resistance: more oil moved by train and by truck. Let's choose safety instead, and stop paying so much undeserved attention to environmentalist demagoguery. Accidents can't be avoided entirely, but there is a simple way to limit this kind of incident: Stop opposing pipeline projects. Oil is going to be with us for many decades to come, so we should use the safest transportation means we can whenever possible, and that means pipelines.
The president's rationale for rejecting the Keystone Approval Act is not actually based on an assessment of whether Keystone XL is in the U.S. national interest--that process is ongoing at the State Department. Rather, Mr. Obama's veto justification is that the Act "attempts to circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether or not building and operating a cross-border pipeline serves the national interest."
Today President Obama vetoed a bill that would have approved the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. The president has our heartfelt thanks for showing hi...
Officials in the Canadian province of Alberta say they hope to talk to Alaska leaders about shipping tar-sands crude oil through the state as the Keys...
This is the climate movement's moment to seize. It's a moment for the labour movement and climate movement to join together to demand investment in re-tooling and re-training workers to build the new economy. It's a moment to divest from dangerous fossil fuels like tar sands and reinvest in the solutions that are here and growing.
Obama's decision will have major implications for Canada, especially in the context of a recent Nature study that found that in order to hold the planet's temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius of warming Canada needs to leave 99 per cent of tar sands underground.
How did things go so badly that Canada doesn't have the heft or goodwill in Washington to add a single pipeline to a nation benoodled with them? The answer lies in the delusional hubris of Stephen Harper.
Canadian foreign policy has often been said to be principally a policy toward the United States with other countries taking second place politically and strategically. If brokering talks between Havana and Washington was intended by the Harper government to win favour with U.S. leaders, the results were predictably mixed.
Would the spokesmen for TransCanada be able to give a logical explanation as to how mere transshipment of petroleum using automated pumping systems would create jobs or any worthwhile economic activity in our province?