Monday, September 07, 2009

If We Don't Take It, They Will - America's Tar Sands Conundrum

Who would have thought that China would have given American oil companies the cover they need to ramp up production and pipeline access to the Athabasca Tar Sands?

The United States currently gets about 1.5-billion barrels a day of "unconventional oil" from Athabasca a volume it wants to see increased to 4.3-billion barrels a day by 2030.

In defending a new pipeline project to transport Athabasca oil to the United States, the State Department argued it, “would serve the national interest, in a time of considerable political tension in other major oil-producing regions and countries, by providing additional access to a proximate, stable, secure supply of crude oil.”

The Obama administration argues that the "national interest" outweighs all the environmental ramifications of tar sands oil extraction. Besides, it contends, if America doesn't glom on to all that tar oil, the Chinese or Japanese will simply have it piped to the West coast for their use.

Whatever the merits of either side of the pipeline debate — and the larger one over Alberta’s oil sands — that possibility may already be under way. Just last week, PetroChina, a Chinese state-owned oil company, agreed to pay $1.7 billion for a majority stake in two tar sands projects.

The writing is on the wall. Washington is bound and determined to squeeze as much oil as can be had from the Tar Sands and we're probably going to keep them happy. That means the "Rest of Canada" is somehow going to have to make good Alberta's massive and burgeoning carbon emissions or we'll be honest and simply throw in the towel on global warming. Given the total absence of political spine from the leadership of the CPC, the LPC and the NDP, Canada is poised to join the ranks of the world's worst environmental pariahs.

1 comment:

LMA said...

If Ignatieff's "world vision" includes world class pollution and environmental destruction as a result of Tar Sands development, it is not much a vision at all. As the election campaign unfolds, we will learn if there is any leader willing to say no.