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Say “Yes” to OIL SANDS – RealClearPolitics

August 29, 2011

Say “Yes” to Oil Sands

August 29, 2011

By Robert Samuelson

WASHINGTON — When it comes to energy, America is lucky to be next to Canada, whose proven oil reserves are estimated by Oil and Gas Journal at 175 billion barrels. This ranks just behind Saudi Arabia (260 billion) and Venezuela (211 billion) and ahead of Iran (137 billion) and Iraq (115 billion). True, about 97 percent of Canada’s reserves consist of Alberta’s controversial oil sands, but new technologies and high oil prices have made them economically viable. Expanded production can provide the U.S. market with a growing source of secure oil for decades.

We would be crazy to turn our back on this. In a global oil market repeatedly threatened by wars, revolutions, and natural and man-made disasters — and where government-owned oil companies control development of about three-quarters of known reserves — having dependable suppliers is no mean feat. We already import about half our oil, and Canada is our largest supplier with about 25 percent of imports. But its conventional fields are declining. Only oil sands can fill the gap.

Will we encourage this? Do we say “yes” to oil sands? Or do we increase our exposure to unstable world oil markets?

Those are the central questions posed by the proposed $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline connecting Alberta’s oil sands to U.S. refineries on the Texas Gulf coast. The pipeline requires White House approval, and environmentalists adamantly oppose it.

To be sure, there are dangers. Pipelines do crack; there are spills. Susan Casey-Lefkowitz of the Natural Resource Defense Council reminds of recent spills of about 1 million gallons into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan and about 40,000 gallons into the Yellowstone River in Montana. Moreover, converting the “bitumen” found in oil sands into oil is messy. Some processes have required up to two barrels of water for every barrel of oil. Because energy use is also high, so are greenhouse gases. On a per-barrel basis, emissions have sometimes been double and triple that of standard oil production.

Environmentalists are outraged. They’ve made Keystone into a cause celebre. Sit-ins outside the White House have led to arrests. For President Obama to approve the pipeline would be regarded by his environmental supporters as a complete betrayal.

via RealClearPolitics – Say “Yes” to Oil Sands.

One Comment
  1. August 29, 2011 9:37 AM

    The proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast would not have “significant impacts” on the environment, the U.S. State Department has concluded.

    The question of a new pipeline from Alberta to Texas should be what will the Canadians do if the United States says no to the project? The answer is they will sell the crude oil to another country. That would most likely be South Korea, China, or Japan. There are already plans to build the Northern Gateway pipeline from Alberta through to British Columbia’s northern coast. Some say this is a fake play by the Canadian government. No matter, a greater reliance on oil from Canada will benefit the United States with more jobs and a dependable source of supply.

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