U.S. President Barack Obama's anti-Keystone stance is not based on science, but is instead a reaction to scare campaigns by environmental groups, charges Alberta's opposition leader in an editorial published in The Washington Times.
And, adds Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith, if Obama is serious about cutting back on greenhouse emissions he would be well-served to look at the coal-fired electricity plants in his own state.
"The total amount of greenhouse-gas emissions from Alberta’s oil sands is about half the amount of emissions produced by the coal-fired electricity plants in the president’s own home state of Illinois," says Smith in the editorial.
"If the president wants to start making progress on greenhouse-gas emissions reductions, he might start by looking closer to home."
Smith also questioned Obama's statements to the New York Times last week, in which the president said the number of jobs created by approving the pipeline would be negligible.
"The most realistic estimates are this might create maybe 2,000 jobs during the construction of the pipeline, which might take a year or two, and then after that we're talking about somewhere between 50 and 100 jobs in an economy of 150 million working people," Obama said.
But Smith said the U.S. president is wide of the mark in his estimates, explaining the U.S. State Department forecasts job creation numbers to be as high as 40,000, while the the pipeline's proponent - TransCanada Pipelines - states the jobs created by Keystone will be approximately 20,000.
Furthermore, adds Smith, pipelines and the technology behind them are proven, even in the United States.
The Obama administration’s latest Keystone position — that its inconsequential job creation isn’t worth the havoc and destruction it will have on the environment — has no basis in economic reality or scientific fact. Sadly, it appears special interests are preying on ill-informed fears about Canadian (and Albertan) oil to sway the president’s decision.
The issue can’t be with the pipeline itself. Five major energy companies operate dozens of cross-border pipelines. None of them resulted in an uproar. There are 55,000 miles of crude-oil pipelines in the continental United States. Clearly, this is a technology that works.
The Washington Times
Although the pipeline is seen as critical for Alberta's oil and gas industry, for the economic well-being of the province and is one of the country's key energy projects, it has fallen out of favour with a large chunk of the U.S. population.
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Smith's move follows on the footsteps of Alberta Premier Alison Redford, who also wrote an editorial on USA Today, in support of the Keystone XL pipeline.
The proposed pipeline would run from Hardisty, Alta. to the U.S. Gulf Coast and would deliver oilsands bitumen to refineries and to ports, which can ship the commodity to off-shore markets.
Alberta maintains that its inability to get its oil to ports is forcing it to sell it at a discount. It also maintains that its existing pipeline infrastructure is maxed out, preventing growth in the province's energy industry and costing the government billions of dollars in lost tax revenue.