Alberta premier wants full, reasoned debate on Keystone XL

Alberta Premier Alison Redford called for a full, reasoned discussion about the proposed Keystone XL crude oil pipeline as the US Department of State reviews the project’s revised cross-border permit application.

“One reason I wanted to come this week is that the dialogue going on right now suffers some fairly glaring deficiencies that overshadow essential truths,” she said in an Apr. 9 address at the Brookings Institution. “The stark choice Keystone’s opponents have put at the heart of the debate is a delusion. They claim you stand against Keystone, or write off the environment. That’s simply wrong.”

Redford maintained, “Concern for the environment is uppermost in Alberta’s mind. We accept we’re global citizens with responsibility to the planet. The truth is that Alberta is home to some of the most environmentally friendly legislation in the world. We have nothing to hide, and we’ll talk about our record.”

Redford’s remarks came during a week in Washington filled with other Keystone XL-related activities. The US House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Energy and Power Subcommittee will hold a hearing Apr. 10 on HR 3, Rep. Lee Terry’s (R-Neb.) bill to bypass the Obama administration and approve the project. The House Natural Resources Committee announced on Apr. 9 that its Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee will hold a hearing Apr. 16 on the same bill.

Several of the project’s opponents formed a new organization, The All Risk, No Reward Coalition, on Apr. 8 to urge congressional Democrats and the Obama administration to reject Keystone XL. A “hard question” debate featuring a wide range of viewpoints will be held the evening of Apr. 10 at the National Press Club.

“Keystone XL is probably the world’s most famous pipeline—an impressive accomplishment since it hasn’t even been built yet,” IHS CERA Chairman Daniel Yergin quipped as he introduced Redford at Brookings.

Put facts on table

“The facts need to be on the table for a responsible debate on Keystone,” Redford said. “We are a responsible producer selling to a reliable customer. That’s the real story. Despite this country’s expanding supply of tight oil, imports will remain a reality for some time to come. The only realistic way to energy independence is on a North American basis, which acknowledges the relationship between our two countries.”

But the level the debate has reached became evident when a few Keystone XL opponents at the Brookings event shouted questions from the audience instead of writing them on cards for attendants to take to Redford, Yergin, and Charles K. Ebinger, Brookings’s energy security initiative director.

“Canadians would like to see a level playing field in the Keystone debate,” Redford maintained. “The opponents ironically are tilting it toward Venezuela, which has the same carbon footprint and little of Canada’s environmental responsibility.”

She said Alberta has other options for export the bitumen it recovers from its oil sands besides Keystone. “We know we can sell to customers around the world, and there are several proposals on the table including moving oil west and east by pipe and north by rail. I believe this will prove vital to a growing global strategy that allows the world access to the resources we produce.

“But it’s Keystone that offers the US the most tangible rewards,” Redford continued. “I hope that not just Washington, but Americans everywhere understand this. We want to be able to lead in energy, employment, and environmental protection discussions. We will continue to demonstrate that Alberta is the most responsible energy supplier.

“We want to make sure that whatever we decide, it’s based on real information and facts,” she said. “Historically, we’ve had partnerships with US producers and have seen what a North American energy structure can be. That is ultimately what Canada-US trade is about. In Keystone, we have a solution that’s in full accord with our economic, social, and environmental values. It’s a matter of putting facts in the dialogue and letting the solutions speak for themselves.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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