Gingrich wins South Carolina primary, mangles Canadian geography, denounces Canadian plans to sell oil to China

Newt Gingrich won the South Carolina Republican primary Saturday night, Jan. 21. 2012, beating his chief rival Mitt Romney, who had a disappointing 27 per cent of the vote.

According to numerous media reports, in his victory speech Gingrich took aim at Canada, the Northern Gateway pipeline (without mentioning it by name) and, according to several reports, completely mangling Canadian geography on a couple of occasions.

According to the Canadian Press, Gingrich told cheering supporters in Charleston.

 [He] maligned the Obama administration for recently rejecting TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline, a project he erroneously said would bring much-needed oil to Texas from “central Canada.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is a “conservative and a pro-American,” he said, and now Canada will be forced to sell its oil to China.

“An American president who can create a Chinese-Canadian partnership is truly a danger to this country,” he said.

The Toronto Star reports:

“Prime Minister (Stephen) Harper — who, by the way, is a conservative and pro-American — will cut a deal with the Chinese,” Gingrich said “We have a president who can create a Chinese-Canadian partnership . . . (it is) truly a danger to this country.”

Tweets from people watching the speech, unconfirmed, so far, by news reports quote Gingrich as describing the Northern Gateway pipeline as “Harper has said he’ll “build a pipeline straight across the Rockies to Vancouver.”

UPDATED: David Atkin of SunMedia quotes the complete excerpt from Gingrich’s speech in his blog.

The president says, “No”, we don’t you to build a pipeline from central Canada straight down with no mountains intervening to the largest petrochemical centre in the world, Houston, so that we’d make money on the pipeline, we’d make money on managing the pipeline, we’d make money on refining the oil, and we’d make money on the ports of Houston and Galveston shipping the oil. Oh no, we don’t want to do that because Barack Obama and his extremist left-wing friends in San Francisco … They think that’ll really stop the oil from heading out. No. What Prime Minister Harper– who, by the way, is Conservative and pro-American — what he has said, is he’s gonna cut a deal with the Chinese and they’ll build a pipeline straight across the Rockies to Vancouver .. We’ll get none of the jobs, none of the energy, none of the opportunity. Now, an American president who can create a Chinese-Canadian partnership is truly a danger to this country.”

CBC Ottawa blogger Kady O’Malley @kady tweeted: @kady: Narrative that pipelines Canada’s “our” decision is somewhat undercut by Newt acting as though China is stealing his oil. #NGP

Denouncing Canadian export of oil apparently became part of Gingrich’s stump speech as he campaigned in South Carolina.  One local newspaper reported he made similar remarks on Wednesday, Jan. 18:

When he took the podium in the Valley Wednesday, Gingrich had some fresh news – that the president is rejecting the Keystone oil pipeline from Canada to Texas. Gingrich called the decision stupid, saying it will cost Americans jobs and the opportunity to get closer to energy independence.

“My goal is to make America so energy independent that no president has to bow down to a Saudi king,” Gingrich said. “It’s inconceivable that an American president would drive Canada into a partnership with China.”


According to the Star Ledger in New Jersey, Gingrich also made similar remarks about San Francisco and Canada on Friday. Paul Mulshine writes:

When the question-and-answer session began, a man asked about President Obama’s failure to move ahead with the Keystone Pipeline, a project that would bring oil from the Canadian tar sands south to the Gulf of Mexico for refining. Gingrich said that project could be under way already except that “the president decided that in order to appease a bunch of left-wing extremists in San Francisco, he’s going to stop Canadian oil.”

He then explained how the Canadians will gladly ship the oil to China if we don’t want it. It sounded good and he even had me for a moment. But then I remembered the Nancy Pelosi commercial from 2008. It’s shows Gingrich sharing a couch with a woman who could arguably be called the most powerful San Francisco liberal of all. The then-speaker of the House and the former speaker of the House sat on a couch (below) delivering a message on the need to curb greenhouse-gas emissions.

Now Gingrich is denying he ever supported cap-and-trade.

Keystone decision means Enbridge must account for climate affect of Northern Gateway, environmental group tells Joint Review Panel

Environment Energy

A coalition of environmental groups led by ForestEthics says the fact the US State Department included climate change in its decision to reassess the Keystone XL pipeline means that Enbridge just do the same for the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline from Alberta to Kitimat.

Even before the Keystone decision, the environmentalists filed a motion with the Northern Gateway Joint Review that would compel the panel to consider the up-stream impacts of tar sands from the Northern Gateway pipeline, as well as climate change impacts.

The groups say they filed the motion with the Joint Review panel on October 10 and have not yet received a response, even though, according to the group, the NGJR panel should respond within seven days.

A news release from ForestEthics says:

The State Department and the Obama administration’s decision to delay the Keystone XL pipeline sends a clear signal to Canadian decision makers,” says Nikki Skuce, Senior Energy campaigner with ForestEthics. “In the context of the climate change threat, credible pipeline review includes climate impacts…”

The Keystone decision came down to the concerns of thousands of American citizens,” said Jennifer Rice, Chair of The Friends of Wild Salmon. “Citizen concern is just as strong in Canada. We’ve had a record-breaking 4000 citizens sign-up to speak on the Gateway pipeline, and we hope Stephen Harper learns something from President Obama’s listening skills.”

ForestEthics spokesman Nikki Skuce said:

The Joint Review Panel has been reluctant to consider climate change and tar sands impacts in their assessment of Northern Gateway, yet Enbridge argues the need for this pipeline based on tar sands expansion… [President Barack] Obama’s decision sets a new North American standard for credible pipeline review. We hope the federal government does the right thing for Canadians and the planet, by including climate and tar sands impacts in their review process.

Related Links
Friends of the Wild Salmon

Pembina urges Harper to follow US “objective perspective” of Keystone in looking at Northern Gateway

Energy Environment

The Pembina Institute, the Alberta based environmental and energy think tank has reacted to the decision by the United States Department of State to delay approval of the Keystone XL bitumen pipeline by urging Prime Minister Stephen Harper to under take a similar “objective perspective” on the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline from the Alberta bitumen sands to Kitimat.

In a news release, Pembina spokesman Dan Woynillowicz said that US President Barack Obama “has made it clear that he has heard the concerns of Americans about environmental protection, climate change, and the need for the United States to create a clean energy future.”

The State Department release on the decision did include “climate change,” which Pembina interprets as, “The fact that climate change will be explicitly considered in the final decision is notable given the higher greenhouse gas pollution associated with oilsands compared to other sources of oil.”

Woynillowicz said the US decision shows that the regulatory process should be ” based on the best available information and analysis, and will take into account the views and concerns of American citizens.”

He then goes on to say:

“This decision stands in stark contrast with the Canadian government’s approach to the proposed Enbridge Gateway pipeline that would transport oil sands product to the West Coast. Rather than maintaining an objective perspective on this pipeline, Prime Minister Harper and his cabinet have been actively promoting its approval before public hearings on the environmental impacts of the project have even begun.

“The Canadian government should take a lesson from the U.S. and ensure a broader and more rigorous review of Gateway is completed, including the upstream environmental and greenhouse gas impacts of expanding oilsands development to fill the pipeline.”

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US State Department delays Keystone approval until 2013, new route likely if approved

Energy Environment Politics

 Updated 1915 Nov. 10, with link to TransCanada statement, 1940 with more reaction.

The United States Department of State has delayed approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline until 2013.

A news release posted on the State Department’s website confirmed earlier media speculation about a delay in the pipeline project approval until after the current US presidential election cycle.

Based on the Department’s experience with pipeline project reviews and the time typically required for environmental reviews of similar scope by other agencies, it is reasonable to expect that this process including a public comment period on a supplement to the final EIS [Environmental Impact Statement]…  could be completed as early as the first quarter of 2013. After obtaining the additional information, the Department would determine, in consultation with the eight other agencies…  whether the proposed pipeline was in the national interest, considering all of the relevant issues together. Among the relevant issues that would be considered are environmental concerns (including climate change), energy security, economic impacts, and foreign policy.

The State Department release also indicates that,if the Keystone XL pipeline is approved, it will likely be rerouted around environmentally sensitive areas, further delaying construction and likely raising costs for TransCanada, the company that wants to build the pipeline. The release says that the State Department has been “conducting a transparent, thorough and rigorous review of TransCanada’s application.”

As a result of this process, particularly given the concentration of concerns regarding the environmental sensitivities of the current proposed route through the Sand Hills area of Nebraska, the Department has determined it needs to undertake an in-depth assessment of potential alternative routes in Nebraska…

During this time, the Department also received input from state, local, and tribal officials. We received comments on a wide range of issues including the proposed project’s impact on jobs, pipeline safety, health concerns, the societal impact of the project, the oil extraction in Canada, and the proposed route through the Sand Hills area of Nebraska, which was one of the most common issues raised….

The concern about the proposed route’s impact on the Sand Hills of Nebraska has increased significantly over time, and has resulted in the Nebraska legislature convening a special session to consider the issue.

The CEO of TransCanada, Russ Girling, reacting to news that the US State Dept. has delayed approval of the Keystone XL pipeline said Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011, “This project is too important to the U.S. economy, the Canadian economy and the national interest of the United States for it not to proceed.”

Girling also said, “”We remain confident Keystone XL will ultimately be approved.

The premier of Alberta, Alison Redford called the decision “disappointing,” saying in a news release:

“It is disappointing that after more than three years of exhaustive
analysis and consultation on this critical project, we find out that a
decision will be delayed until early 2013. Our position has always been
clear that we respect and understand that approval of the pipeline is a
U.S. domestic matter, but the fact remains that Keystone XL is a key
piece of infrastructure for our province. I sincerely hope that the
State Department made this decision based on science and evidence and
not rhetoric and hyperbole from very well-organized interest groups.

Alberta is steadfastly committed to this project and my government will
continue to advocate that we are the safest, most secure and responsible
source of oil for the United States. I will seek immediate answers
from U.S. officials to determine why this decision was made and how the
process will unfold going forward.

The industry group the American Petroleum Institute was less diplomatic than Redford, in its own words, the API “blasted” the decision and directly blaming what it called “radicals.”

This decision is deeply disappointing and troubling. 
Whether it will help the president retain his job is unclear, but it
will cost thousands of shovel-ready opportunities for American workers,”
said API President and CEO Jack Gerard.

“There is no real issue about
the environment that requires further investigation, as the president’s
own State Department has recently concluded after extensive project
reviews that go back more than three years.  This is about politics and
keeping a radical constituency opposed to any and all oil and gas
development in the president’s camp in November 2012.

There has been speculation that cancellation or delay of the Keystone XL project would increase pressure to build the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline.


Keystone XL delayed until 2013, media reports say

Energy  Politics

Numerous media reports, quoting sources, are saying that approval of  the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta to Texas has been delayed until 2013,  after the current American election cycle.

The New York Times
says U.S. to Delay Decision on Pipeline Until After Election

The Obama administration is preparing to delay a decision on the contested Keystone XL pipeline while it studies an alternate route, effectively pushing any action past the 2012 election, officials and lobbyists who have been briefed on the matter said on Thursday. An announcement is expected as early as Thursday afternoon.

The proposed project by a Canadian pipeline company had put President Obama in a political vise, squeezed between demands for secure energy sources and the jobs the project will bring, and the loud opposition of environmental advocates who have threatened to withhold electoral support next year if he approves it.

CBC reports Keystone project reportedly shelved until 2013

The U.S. State Department will order another environmental assessment for the Keystone XL pipeline route, allowing U.S. President Barack Obama to shelve the controversial issue until after the 2012 elections, media reports said Thursday.

Earlier Reuters and Bloomberg reported that US State Department had ordered new studies on the route of the Keystone pipeline.

Reuters says

The United States will study a new route for the Keystone XL Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline, U.S. officials said on Thursday, delaying any final approval beyond the 2012 election and sparing President Barack Obama a politically risky decision for now.

The delay was a victory for environmentalists who say oil sands crude development emits large amounts of greenhouse gases. It would deal a blow to companies developing Alberta’s oil sands and to TransCanada Corp, which planned to build and operate the conduit.

Analysts have said a long delay could kill the $7 billion project because it would cause shippers and refiners to look for alternative routes to get Canadian oil sands crude

The questions for northwestern British Columbia is, whether long delays in the Keystone XL pipeline will ramp up pressure to build the Northern Gateway pipeline from Alberta to Kitimat. One big difference here is that Stephen Harper has already won re-election and has a safe and pro-pipeline majority government.

Not enough bitumen production to support both Northern Gateway and Keystone XL consultant says


Bloomberg news reports that a Calgary based energy research company believes Enbridge’s Oil Sands Project Is Years Early

Enbridge Inc., Canada’s largest pipeline operator, wouldn’t need to build the Northern Gateway project to export Alberta’s oil-sands crude for almost a decade if TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL is approved this year, according to IHS CERA, an energy research company.

The 732-mile (1,177-kilometer) Northern Gateway pipeline would pump 525,000 barrels a day from near Edmonton, Alberta, to the port of Kitimat, British Columbia, where crude would be loaded on tankers bound for Asia. The line, scheduled to start in 2017, would reduce Canadian dependence on U.S. markets and compete with the Keystone XL, designed to pipe 700,000 barrels a day to refineries in Texas along the Gulf of Mexico by 2013.

Jackie Forrest, a director of global oil at IHS CERA, said there won’t be enough oil sands production to support Northern Gateway’s launch even if, as she expects, Keystone XL approval helps the output double in 10 years to 3 million barrels a day.

The Bloomberg article goes on to quote one analyst who believes the Northern Gateway fight will get a lower profile than the Keystone XL.

Northern Gateway faces opposition from environmentalists and Indian groups because it passes through the Great Bear Rainforest and raises the risk of supertanker oil spills in the Douglas Channel. However, the Canada-only route may make the project less prominent than Keystone XL, which has drawn protests from celebrities such as Daryl Hannah and Margot Kidder, who played Lois Lane in several Superman movies.

 “Northern Gateway would be an all-Canadian fight and thus perhaps could be less sensational and muscular, think Canadian Football League vs. U.S. NFL, but nonetheless might get very contentious,” Judith Dwarkin, chief energy economist for ITG Investment Research, wrote in an e-mail from Calgary.

Approval of the Keystone XL may not be the slam dunk that some in  the Calgary oil patch believe. As Konrad Yababuski reports in The Globe and Mail in Keystone XL: More about the politics than the petroleum

Proponents of the TransCanada Corp. project, which would double the amount of Alberta crude flowing south, now fear that President Barack Obama will give in to pressure from the base of the Democratic Party to nix the pipeline.

With Mr. Obama’s approval rating sliding to a record low – leading more than half of Americans to think for the first time that he will be a one-term President – the White House needs to bring every stray Democrat it can find back into the fold before the 2012 election.

The progressive wing of the Democratic Party has been feeling particularly unloved by this White House. Killing the Keystone XL project would be a powerful way for the administration to show its renewed affection.

Which means of course if President Barack Obama does kill Keystone XL to keep his base happy, there will be more than enough bitumen sands for the Northern Gateway pipeline.

Editor’s note:  Disclosure.  I have always liked the CFL game, with three downs and the bigger field over the NFL, so the analogy is probably apt in describing the contentious Northern Gateway debate, a more wide open and interesting struggle.   

Obama press secretary questioned on anti oil sands demonstrations

Energy Environment links

U.S. president Barack Obama’s press secretary, Jay Carney, was asked about the continuing demonstrations  in Washington against the Alberta oil sands and the Keystone XL pipeline proposal during a “gaggle” (an informal news conference) aboard Air Force One en route to Minnesota today.

The White House released this transcript of the brief exchange:

Q Also, anything on these protests outside the White House on this
pipeline? Has the President decided against TransCanada’s permit for the
pipeline? It’s the tar sands pipeline. There have been a lot of arrests
outside the White House about it.

MR. CARNEY: I don’t have anything new on that. I believe the State
Department has — that’s under the purview of the State Department
presently, but I don’t have anything new on that.

Q Is the President aware of the protests?

MR. CARNEY: I haven’t talked to him about it.

Protestors have been demonstrating in a restricted area near the White House and are inviting arrest as part of an ongoing effort to stop the Keystone XL bitumen pipeline from Alberta to Texas. The latest celebrity to take part in the protests was actress Darryl Hannah, who was arrested today, as reported by The Guardian.

The State Department did give its approval to the Keystone XL pipeline on  Aug 26, saying, as reported in The Guardian.

The State Department said the proposed 1,700-mile pipeline would not cause significant damage to the environment.

The State Department in its report said the project – which would pipe more than 700,000 barrels a day of tar sands crude to Texas refineries – would not increase greenhouse gas emissions. It also downplayed the risks of an accident from piping highly corrosive tar sands crude across prime American farmland.

Campaigners accused the State Department of consistently overlooking the potential risks of the pipeline.

The largest anti-pipeline demonstration is expected on Sept. 2, when First Nations leaders are expected to join the protests in front of the White House.

“Call the Americans.” Canadian Coast Guard cutbacks now an issue in the US Senate

The Coast

The controversy over the Harper government’s cutbacks to Canadian Coast Guard resources on both west and east coasts  has now become an issue in the United States Senate.

While most of the media attention last week was on Newfoundland, where there are fears not only of moving the search coordination centre from the island to Trenton, and the possible privatization of the entire search and rescue service, the cutbacks on the northern coast of British Columbia have yet to become a national story, even though the conservative government is increasing its promotion of tanker traffic from Pacific ports.

Now the issue has come to attention of  Senator Maria Cantwell, a Washington Democrat, who is raising alarm bells in the Senate about the dangers of tanker traffic, the possibility of a spill and  the probable inadequacy of the Canadian response to any major shipping accident along the coast.


Cantwell’s main concern is upgrading the ability of the United States Coast Guard to respond to such an accident, “This is a major threat to our region,” Cantwell said at hearing on July 20 of the Senate  Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard Subcommittee. “It seems that Canada’s oil spill response plan in the Pacific Northwest is to call the Americans.  …Obviously any such spill in the narrow and heavily populated waters of the Puget Sound or Strait of Juan de Fuca would cause tens of billions of dollars in damage and impact millions of my constituents. … I think it deserves a very robust oil spill response plan.”

Cantwell  says she secured a commitment  from  Rear Admiral Paul F. Zukunft, Assistant Commandant for Marine Safety, Security and Stewardship for the United States Coast Guard, to have the U.S. Coast Guard perform an extensive analysis of cross-border readiness and ability to respond to potential spills given the potentially dramatic increase in oil tanker traffic along the U.S.-Canada maritime border off Washington state.

After the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Cantwell pushed a bill through the U.S. Congress  that, strengthens oil spill protections for Puget Sound and other U.S. coastal waters. The bill, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama on October 15, 2010, includes  provisions that significantly enhance oil spill response and prevention to protect valuable coastal communities and their economies.

Cantwell’s news release  says

The legislation expands the oil spill response safety net from Puget Sound out to the entrance of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, ensuring that Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca have spill response teams and equipment in place. The bill further reduces ship and tanker traffic in the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary; enhances spill prevention efforts on vessels transporting oil; and establishes a stronger role for tribes.

Cantwell also fought to include a provision that requires tug escorts for double-hulled tankers in Prince William Sound. Approximately 600 oil tankers and 3,000 oil barges travel through Puget Sound’s fragile ecosystem annually, carrying about 15 billion gallons of oil to Washington’s five refineries. The Strait of Juan de Fuca also has significant outbound tanker traffic originating in Vancouver and carrying Canadian oil. Prior to the 2010 Coast Guard Reauthorization Bill, American industry only had to position oil spill response equipment in Puget Sound, leaving the busy shipping lane in the Strait of Juan de Fuca unprotected.

Cantwell’s provision extended the “high volume port area” designation west to Cape Flattery. As a result, oil spill response equipment, such as booms and barriers, are now prepositioned along the Strait, supplementing the response equipment already in place in Puget Sound.

An oil spill in waters in Washington state interior waterways could be devastating. According to the Washington State Department of Ecology, a major spill would have a significant impact on Washington state’s coastal economy, which employs 165,000 people and generates $10.8 billion. A spill would also severely hurt our export dependent economy because international shipping would likely be severely restricted. Washington state’s waters support a huge variety of animals and plants, including a number of endangered species, all which would be harmed by a spill.

Cantwell says she was successful in protecting a tanker ban in Puget Sound.  Former  Alaskan Repuiblican Senator Ted Stevens attempted to overturn the then 28-year-old protections authored by former Senator Warren Magnuson limiting oil tanker traffic in the Puget Sound. In 1977, Senator Warren Magnuson had the foresight to recognize the great risk that oil supertankers would have on the waters of Puget Sound. He put his findings into law and essentially banned supertankers in the Puget Sound by prohibiting the expansion of oil terminals in Puget Sound.

Enbridge, environmentalists agree

The inadequate Canadian Coast Guard resources in the Pacific region bring rare agreement between Enbridge which wants to build the controversial Northern Gateway pipeline and the project’s environmental opponents.

While Enbridge maintains that safety systems it plans would make a tanker accident a rare event, when officials were questioned at last September’s public meeting in Kitimat, they said Enbridge was worried about Coast Guard resources on the west coast.   They said that Enbridge’s emergency planning scenarios call for it to take 72 hours for the Canadian Coast Guard to respond with its meagre equipment from Victoria and Vancouver to a tanker accident in Douglas Channel.  The Enbridge team admitted under questioning from the audience that the company would urge to Canadian government to call on US Coast Guard resources from Alaska and as far away as California in the event of a major spill, confirming Sen. Cantwell’s statement to the subcommittee that Canada would “Call the Americans.”

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TransCanada’s new pipeline project worries U.S. agency: Calgary Herald

Calgary Herald

 TransCanada’s new pipeline project worries U.S. agency

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has expressed new fears about the safety of Calgary-based TransCanada Corp.’s proposed Keystone XL oilsands pipeline, warning decision makers in the Obama administration to “carefully consider” whether the project’s proposed route through ecologically sensitive areas in the U.S. Great Plains is appropriate.

 In a letter to the State Department, the EPA said two recent leaks that shut down the existing Keystone pipeline highlight the need to require the Canadian company to take more rigorous steps to limit the threat of a major spill on the new line.

Keystone XL pipeline would accelerate U.S. addiction to Canadian oil: report: PostMedia News

PostMedia News

A controversial $13-billion pipeline project originating in Hardisty, Alta., will accelerate U.S. addiction to Canadian oil, says a newly-released report from Natural Resources Canada.

 “The Keystone XL project is seen as both furthering U.S. dependence on oil, and enabling more oilsands crude to enter the U.S. market,” said the document, released through access to information legislation… 

 “Although the Keystone XL pipeline was certificated in Canada in late April 2010, the company continues to wait for approvals in the U.S. before it can begin construction,” said the report, obtained by Ottawa researcher Ken Rubin. “This . . . has been caused by U.S. opposition to imports of ‘dirty’ Canadian crude oil from the ‘tar sands….'” 

 The Natural Resources Canada report, entitled “Current Pipeline Issues,” was finalized on Oct. 22, 2010, and listed senior bureaucrats… from the oil and gas policy and regulatory division of the department as its key contacts.