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Keyston XL: We’ve Won The Battle…


But the war is far from over.

On November 10th, President Obama delayed the Keystone XL pipeline until 2013, siting climate change and the route of the pipeline (which went over very important aquifers) as reasons for the decision.  Many analysts believed that this would spell the end of the Northern-Alberta-To-Texas pipeline.

However, since President Obama’s announcement, the company behind the pipeline, Trans-Canada, has stated that it is willing to consider alternative routes around the vital aquifer – a complete reversal of Trans-Canada’s previous position which was essentially “it’s our route or no route”.  And even if the pipeline does not get built, Prime Minister Harper has made it clear that if the US doesn’t want our Tar Sands oil, eastern Asia does.

And so, even if (and that’s a big “if”) the Keystone XL pipeline never gets built, there is still the matter of the Alberta Tar Sands project and what its expansion means to northern Alberta’s environment and what it means to Canada’s efforts to  mitigate climate change.  Every dollar that our country invests in this project (which includes part of $1.4 billion in subsidies that our Federal Government gives to oil and gas companies) is a dollar that could be spent on a modern electrical grid, renewable energy and energy efficiency.  Every effort that we make to convince countries around the world that the Tar Sands are “clean” and “sustainable” (that last one really burns my $@#) is an effort that we do not make to transition away from fossil fuels.

The more we develop the Tar Sands, the greater the damage to the natural ecosystems of Northern Alberta.  Also, the longer we stay “on the juice” (as my wife calls our dependence on fossil fuels), the harder it will be to get off of it economically, technologically and socially.  More importantly (I would argue), the longer we as a society are dependent on fossil fuels, the worse climate change will get.

These arguments need to be a part of the debate.  Jobs and income are important, but so are clean water, clean soil and a stable climate.


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