Problems Between Canada, US Regarding Keystone XL Pipeline

A recent article outlined the problems that the Keystone XL pipeline has posed for both the United States and Canada. It all stems from the tar sands – located in Alberta, Canada – that contain an estimated 170 billion barrels of bitumen. This measures as the 3rd largest oil reserve in the world.

This reserve produced over $90 billion in gross domestic product for Canada in 2012; this number is expected to continue rising due to claims by Stephen Harper’s administration. His administration has said that it wants to turn Canada into an “international energy superpower.”

People throughout the United States have been protesting the Keystone XL pipeline.

People throughout the United States have been protesting the Keystone XL pipeline.

Here is where the aforementioned Keystone XL pipeline comes into play. Stretching from Alberta all the way (when completed) to Nebraska, this pipeline has accounted for numerous protests from Americans. The pipeline has been delayed several times due to assessment by the US government on the amount of environmental impact the pipeline will place on American soil. There seems to be no end in sight for the deliberations. 

The Keystone XL pipeline, which was originally proposed in 2008, is actually just a portion of the Keystone system. This system is already over 2,000 miles long, stretching from Hardisty all the way down to Houston, Texas. Keystone XL would be the fourth phase of the project. 

Jordan Larson, writer for the Pacific Standard, noted that delays in negotiations with the U.S. might be the result of Canada’s “declining environmental track record and its international reputation.”

Larson notes that since Harper’s Conservative Party won a parliamentary majority in 2011, Canada’s emphasis on environmental science issues quickly declined. Cuts on funding have undermined environmental causes throughout the country.  Larson points to research projects such as the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Lab (PEARL) that have either ended abruptly or were turned over to a third-party organization. The glaring budget bill, C-38, amended a couple dozen laws that were concerned with environmental protection and regulation. 

Bloomberg investigated some of the issues between the U.S. and Canada in regards to the Keystone XL project. It noted that Canada’s new approach to environmental issues is causing a controversy between the two countries, as Obama has particular issues with Canada’s ignorance to regulate emissions from the pipeline. 

As a result, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has placed two new conditions on the Keystone XL pipeline. It is forcing TransCanada (the company constructing the pipeline) to implement a quality management system. Also, TransCanada must have a third-party inspection company present at the site, monitoring its progress. 

We’ll see how Canada and the U.S. progress with Keystone XL. Canada has already proposed four other pipelines within the country’s borders – it seems that they’ll be moving forward with their oil industry whether the U.S. is involved or not.

from Danny Yehia


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