Over six years ago, TransCanada applied for a permit to construct the Keystone XL pipeline with a proposal to build a “1,179 mile (1,897 kilometer), 36-inch-diameter crude oil pipeline beginning in Hardisty, Alta”. Beginning in the early 2000’s Mexican and Venezuelan oil output dwindled, making room for Canada to become the main provider of foreign oil to the United States.
Unfortunately for both the exporter and importer alike, all pipelines currently running “north-south” have been overwhelmed with both supply and demand during this opportunistic time in North American history. The stage was (and still is) all but set for the Keystone XL pipeline to unlock an additional exportation of 830,000 barrels of crude oil each day. So what happened? And why, earlier this week, did the potential future President of the United States announce her opposition to the pipeline?
Both countries connected by this pipeline are currently in election mode. However, public sentiment towards elections couldn’t seemingly be any further apart between Canada and the United States. With roughly 4 weeks left until the big day in Canada, a population not used to such a “long” election is ready for it to be over.
Elections in the United States are another story. As I write, there is exactly 410 days, 5 hours, 27 minutes and 11 seconds until the next President is elected. Yet, turn on your favorite late night talk show each evening and sure enough, there’s Jeb, Hillary, and of course “The Donald”. While Canadians are spending these election days being bored to death over controversies like $90,000 dollars in Senate expenses that were, in the end, paid back in full, the games are just beginning with our neighbors to the south.
Despite election day being over a year away, things are heating up in the United States, and every word counts. So you can be sure that Hillary’s announcement of opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline was calculated, and strategic. Maybe it was to secure specific votes in the race against other Democrat nominees, as candidates such as Bernie Sanders and (possibly) Joe Biden gain steam in the polls. Perhaps it is to distract voters from the email controversy that has somehow managed its way back into the news. There is only one thing we can be sure of: someone as informed as Hillary Clinton is not opposed to Keystone for the reasons that she says she is, namely, the environment.
The Keystone pipeline has become a symbol of the area that the energy source comes from: the Alberta oil sands. Clinton has joined the likes of Neil Young and Leonardo DiCaprio, who took the fight on climate change directly to the oil sands as if it was the root cause of climate change. However, in a country with a serious appetite for energy, the United States resorts to controversial methods like hydraulic fracturing, and extremes such as deep-sea off-shore drilling.
If Hillary were serious about making big moves in the fight against climate change at such a delicate time for the economy, why not ask how the environment feels after 4.9 million barrels of oil was dumped into the Gulf of Mexico between April 20th and July 15th 2010 (inconceivable with the transportation of crude through a pipeline system). Hillary would also have better spent her time on television the other day addressing the issue of coal fired power plants, which in 2010, in the state of Wisconsin alone, produced 43 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions (the same year as the BP oil spill); easily dwarfing the oil sands in yearly emissions.
Hillary Clinton has jumped on the bandwagon of using the Keystone XL pipeline as a symbol for the fight against climate change. For the sake of simplicity, she has joined in on the all too common strategy of using Keystone as a single target for environmentalists to rally around. Clinton is choosing to do this rather than fight the ‘battle’ throughout the United States in other industries. It is now a slogan, leaving facts in the dust for the sake of ideology. And not a day later did TransCanada announce more cuts, slashing a fifth of senior staff jobs and warning of more to come.