Obama buys more wiggle room on Keystone decision – by Claudia Cattaneo (National Post – June 26, 2013)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

In announcing his plan to restrain climate change Tuesday, United States President Barack Obama effectively named his price for approving the Keystone XL pipeline: no net increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

The surprise reference to the Canadian project was made in a speech at Washington’s Georgetown University, where he announced long-expected mandatory reductions of greenhouse gas emissions by operators of power plants, the biggest single source in the U.S., while continuing to promote green energy.

“This does not mean we are going to suddenly stop producing fossil fuels,” Mr. Obama added. “But our energy strategy must be about more than just producing more oil. And by the way, it’s certainly got to be more than just building one pipeline.

“I know there has been, for example, a lot of controversy around the proposal to build the pipeline, the Keystone pipeline, that would carry oil from Canadian tar sands down to refineries in the Gulf and the State Department is going through the final stages of evaluating the proposal. That’s how it’s always been done.

“But I do want to be clear. Allowing the Keystone pipeline to be built requires a finding that doing so would be in our nation’s interest. And our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.

The net effects of the pipeline’s impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward.”

For Canada, the explicit naming of the condition has good and bad implications.

The good news is that Canada, which has been waiting for five years for the project’s approval amid endless foot dragging by the President, finally knows what it will take to get to the finish line.

Proponents have lots of fodder to argue the pipeline meets the President’s climate change expectations.

Emissions from the oil sands are negligible — 0.1%, or one one-thousandth, of global emissions, or less than half of emissions from coal plants in Illinois and just one-fortieth of coal emissions in the U.S., as federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver likes to point out.

Canada will reduce those even more through imminent new regulations directed specifically at the oil and gas industry.

Meanwhile, the province of Alberta, which is already charging oil sands operators a carbon tax, is on the cusp of further tightening the screws.

For the rest of this article, click here: http://business.financialpost.com/2013/06/25/obama-climate-change-keystone/?__lsa=36af-c1a7

Comments are closed.