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NEWS: Canadian ambassador lobbies for Keystone XL pipeline

Globe and Mail columnist Konrad Yakabuski writes today that “(Canadian ambassador to the US) Gary Doer has been several steps ahead” of the 275 activists arrested in front of the White House so far in his campaign to have the Keystone XL pipeline approved by the Obama administration.

Doer’s arguments?

1- CANADA IS DEMOCRATIC: “It is not hard persuading Americans they are better off getting more of their oil from friendly and democratic Canada than from unstable or undemocratic regimes in Venezuela, Africa or the Middle East. American politicians generally need no lessons in geopolitics.”

2- THE TAR SANDS AND KEYSTONE CREATES US JOBS: “‘What we think we’ve had to get out there are, beyond the energy security [argument], are the numbers on the economic security side,’ Mr. Doer said, pointing to the more than 900 U.S. companies who supply the oil sands with everything from heavy equipment to customized software. ‘We meet with congressional representatives and point out what [companies] in their district are supplying the oil sands,’ he explained… ‘When you meet with President Obama, you point out the 68 companies in Illinois.’ …Mr. Doer’s economic pitch (also says Keystone XL) is a major infrastructure project that would create 20,000 unionized construction jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in tax and other revenues in the six states through which it would pass.”

3- PIPELINE SAFETY: “To everyone (Doer) meets these days, he insists the 2,700-kilometre Keystone XL would adhere to far tougher safety standards than any of the 235,000 kilometres of oil pipelines already built in the United States.”

4- IT TAKES LESS WATER TO PRODUCE TAR SANDS OIL THAN ETHANOL: “(Doer) counters the reputation of oil sands crude as ‘dirty’ owing to the greater amounts of freshwater depletion, greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation it causes compared with conventional oil production. ‘We believe that when somebody claims something that’s 10 years old about water utilization or [carbon] emissions, we have to put the facts on the table,’ he said, noting that it now takes far less water to produce a barrel of oil sands oil than it does to produce the same amount of ethanol. ‘There have been major improvements made. We’re not saying to anyone that they’re complete. We’ve got to keep using innovations to improve water utilization and emissions per barrel.'”

5- TAR SANDS HAVE RELATIVELY LIMITED EMISSIONS: In 2009, Doer commented to the media, “One of the concerns that I have, is that (the tar sands) represents so little of the emissions in North America. It’s getting a disproportionate amount of chatter. You’ve got to look at everything. How do you reduce emissions from coal? How do you increase the use of renewables? How do you have the increase in energy efficiency? All of these items have to be on the agenda. The fact that one project is discussed means that we’ve missed the big picture.”

Yakabuski highlights Doer’s lobbying for the pipeline, “Since becoming Canada’s ambassador to the United States in late 2009, the former Manitoba premier has travelled from the Carolinas to California, and to most points in between, to make the case for the oil sands. He is just back from last weekend’s annual meeting of southern U.S. governors in Asheville, N.C. On Saturday, Mr. Doer was talking up Canadian crude – and the proposed Keystone XL pipeline – to the governors and hundreds of state legislators and business people gathered in Asheville. …Five of the six affected governors support the project. The sixth, Nebraska Republican Dave Heineman, opposes only the pipeline route through the Ogallala aquifer.”

The Council of Canadians supports the daily sit-ins taking place near the White House in protest against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Earlier this summer, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow signed an open letter supporting the call for this action, And Postmedia News has reported that, “Barlow said she plans to be in Washington for the anti-Keystone XL actions. …Keystone XL is ‘bad all around, in our opinion,’ Barlow added, ‘and so we are going to support Americans who are very, very concerned and very sure this is one way they can bring this issue to the forefront in the United States.’”