Energy Environment Commentary
Michael Byers, the Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law at UBC, writes about the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline in Salon.com, largely for an American audience, calling the pipeline The evil twin of the Keystone XL oil pipeline
U.S. opponents of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline should take take note: One of the greatest weaknesses of the proposed 1,980 mile-long pipeline from Canada’s tar sand fields to refineries in Texas actually lies in British Columbia on Canada’s west coast.
That’s where a second pipeline (“Northern Gateway”) could link the tar sands of central Canada to coastal British Columbia.
The U.S. State Department has accepted assertions that the production of heavy oil will increase regardless of whether Keystone XL is built, because the Northern Gateway pipeline would bring oil for shipment to China. Denying permission for Keystone XL would not promote the U.S. national interest in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the State Department says, because China will use the energy anyway.
Byers then goes on to describe in great detail the opposition to the pipeline in British Columbia from First Nations and residents of the northern part of the province. He also describes growing opposition to the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline to Vancouver. (See today’s story Kinder Morgan buys natural gas pipeline) especially the hazards of sending tankers through Second Narrows.
From all that Byers concludes:
In short, there’s a bit of snake oil in the pipeline-to-China assumptions. The U.S. State Department must assess the full environmental impact of Keystone XL. It cannot ignore the carbon footprint of Canada’s tar sands because of an alternative pipeline to China that does not exist and will likely never be built.
It seems that Byers is certainly jumping to conclusions that the Northern Gateway will never be built, especially since Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and cabinet ministers John Moore and Joe Oliver has said it is in the national interest that the Northern Gateway should proceed.