There are signs that the fight for the coast may have new impetus.
As reported recently in the Associated Press, the United States could soon come into a bounty of oil. Part of it comes from newly discovered reserves, part from the Gulf of Mexico and a huge new source from oil released by fracking.
There could be so much oil to be tapped in the United States that some, such as the conservative Manhattan Institute forecast new found national wealth from oil exports.
The United States, Canada, and Mexico are awash in hydrocarbon resources: oil, natural gas, and coal. The total
North American hydrocarbon resource base is more than four times greater than all the resources extant in the
Middle East. And the United States alone is now the fastest-growing producer of oil and natural gas in the world.
The recent growth in hydrocarbons production has already generated hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions
in local tax receipts by unlocking billions of barrels of oil and natural gas in the hydrocarbon-dense shales of North
Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and several other states, as well as the vast resources of Canada’s oil sands.
It is time to appreciate the staggering potential economic and geopolitical benefits that facilitating the development of
these resources can bring to the United States. It is no overstatement to say that jobs related to extraction, transport,
and trade of hydrocarbons can awaken the United States from its economic doldrums and produce revenue such that
key national needs can be met—including renewal of infrastructure and investment in scientific research.
Harper and Redford will be in for some sleepless nights as the Americans talk about whether they even need the Keystone XL bitumen pipeline.
The Canada-to-Texas Keystone XL is the most visible and highly
charged part of that pipeline system restructuring, even though critics
are now questioning the logic of building an import pipeline when the
industry is increasingly focused on exports.
The industry's growing interest in exporting U.S. oil stems from a
dramatic and unexpected surge in domestic light, sweet crude production
that has boosted this country's oil production to more than 6.6 million barrels per day, its highest level since 1995, according to federal data.
The flood of crude has caused a wholesale reversal of thinking within
the industry, triggering predictions across the political spectrum that
the United States could become not only energy self-sufficient but also
a major oil exporter whose output could rival Saudi Arabia's.
The bad news for British Columbia is that any weakening of the American market for Athabasca sludge will only heighten the desperation of Harper, Redford, Enbridge and Big Oil to drive through the Northern Gateway pipeline. That would mean a far tougher, potentially much uglier fight to stop it.