By Medicine Hat News Opinion on February 18, 2021.
Alberta suffers from unfortunate geography.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Alberta has the third-largest proven oil reserves in the world. However, because the oil sands are landlocked thousands of kilometres from the nearest ocean, we are at the mercy of neighbouring jurisdictions in terms of getting oil to market.
This has been clearly evident with U.S. President Joe Biden’s recent revocation of the presidential permit for the Keystone XL pipeline expansion. Biden cited climate concerns as his reasoning behind the cancellation. However, these climate concerns over the expansion are highly misguided. For instance, Keystone XL was set to be the first pipeline ever to be powered fully by renewable energy as well as having net zero emissions.
Furthermore, cancelling the pipeline will not decrease the amount of oil being pulled out of the oil sands and shipped to the Gulf Coast. Rather, the oil will continue to be shipped by rail, which is far more dangerous and carbon-emitting than by pipeline.
The real reason Biden cancelled the pipeline is two-fold. The first being a political move designed to satisfy the “progressive” wing of the Democratic Party. Since Keystone’s inception, it has been a symbol for the politically powerful “environmental” groups in their fight against fossil fuels. As misinformed as these groups are, Keystone XL is nonetheless a major target of the anti-oil sands movement, which makes up a good portion of the Democratic base.
The second reason lies in the fact that the U.S is on track to become energy independent, meaning it would not need to import oil for domestic consumption, while still producing enough oil to export as well.
Furthermore, there is likely going to be an increased global demand for oil as developing countries get wealthier and industrialize. By revoking Keystone XL, the U.S. continues to have a strategic advantage over Canada in the global oil market.
The cancellation is not good for Alberta. Keystone XL offered a chance for our oil to reach new markets in a more cost-effective manner.
This opportunity has unfortunately been thwarted in large part to the fact that Alberta oil and pipelines have become a political bogeyman in leftist circles. There will still be a large demand for oil for decades to come.
Keystone XL was a shining example of how oil transport could be done in a sustainable way.
It seems every direction Alberta looks, there is opposition to the transport of our oil, whether it be Quebec, B.C. or now the U.S. This is a shame, because as the U.S. continues to improve its position in the global oil market, Alberta and Canada continue to fall.
Cash Moore is a political science student at the University of Alberta from Medicine Hat. His column, For What It’s Worth, will run on the third Thursday of each month. Feedback for his columns can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org