Washington Post editorial argues that Northern Gateway will go ahead

Energy Link (Editorial)

An editorial in the Oct. 10, 2011 issue of the Washington Post argues that it is realistic that  the Northern Gateway pipeline (without actually mentioning the name) will go ahead.

In Keystone XL pipeline is the wrong target for protesters

The Post takes aim at the protestors who oppose the Keystone pipeline, seeing it as a passionate fight against fossil fuels. The editorial then goes on to say

True, the petroleum that comes from Alberta’s “tar sands” isn’t very clean; it produces more carbon emissions than light sweet crude. And, true, pipelines can leak, as recent ruptures in Michigan and under the Yellowstone River demonstrate.

But rejecting the pipeline won’t reduce global carbon emissions or the risk of environmentally destructive spills.

Canada’s government — and rising world petroleum prices — guarantee that the country will extract the oil from its tar sands, and that Asia will take it if America doesn’t. That means using pipelines to transport Canada’s heavy crude hundreds of miles to the West Coast and then shipping it abroad, burning fossil fuels and risking ocean spills along the way. China already has a large stake in Canadian oil production. Plans are already in the works to build the necessary pipelines.

The Post notes the allegations that the bitumen sands crude, once refined will not benefit the US but will be exported through the Gulf Coast. Then adds, “But if export markets are that attractive, Canadian crude will reach them without transiting the United States, and American refineries will get their low-grade crude from somewhere else.” For the Post the bottom line is American security, preferring low-grade crude form Canada rather than from hostile Venezuela or the volatile Middle East.

 The Post concludes:

Producing energy is a dirty business, and it will remain so for a long time, even with the right policies. Part of facing this reality is admitting that how the world produces energy must change over time. But another part is accepting that oil production will continue for decades and clear-headedly managing the risks — not pretending we can wish them away

The online comments, as you might expect, are about one third in favour (jobs and the economy), one third opposed (climate change, oil spills) and the rest the usual nasty diatribes.

Editors note: Whether or not one supports or opposes the Northern Gateway pipeline, the editorial is a prime example of arm chair rhetoric probably composed by a writer comfortably living in a Georgetown brownstone who will never come within 1000 kilometres of Douglas Channel. It is well known that The Washington Post is not the paper it was 20 years ago. The muddled talk about “clear-headedly managing the risks”  shows how the once-great paper has declined. The editorial is actually insulting to both sides, since it is obvious that the Post editorial board have no knowledge of the thousands of pages filed by Enbridge that outline the risks of the Northern Gateway and the company’s contingency plans nor the reservations about the pipeline outlined by the environmental movement, First Nations and local residents.

But then not many news organizations these days bother to assign reports to actually come to the scene of any story.  In recent months, just three, Alberta Oil, The Calgary Herald and The Globe and Mail have come here.  The rest are content to sit at their desks and work on, as one former managing editor of a major Canadian daily put it, “telephone-assisted reporting.”