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Tuesday, May 30, 2023


Oil industry will move overseas

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia commons

When most UH students hear the word Keystone, they immediately think about what they were drinking last weekend. They don’t think about the Keystone XL pipeline.

This pipeline is a $7 billion project from TransCanada Corp. that would transport an estimated 830,000 barrels of crude oil from Alberta, Canada, to Houston every day. The pipeline could produce as many as 20,000 jobs, many of them in the Houston area. Last week, the Obama administration killed the hopes of this pipeline being built by delaying the rest of its construction until 2013.

TransCanada Corp. has already poured $2 billion into the project, but has repeatedly come under fire because part of the pipeline will cross the Sandhills region of Nebraska, an ecologically fragile area that lies above the Ogallala Aquifer. About 27 percent of the irrigated land in the US relies on this aquifer for agricultural needs.

The fear that this pipeline could pollute this aquifer is understandable, but with the amount of research TransCanada Corp. has put into the project, it is highly unlikely that this will happen.

On Monday, the company announced that it would examine alternative routes for the contested portion of the pipeline — routes that would allow them to bypass the Ogallala Aquifer.

You would think this would be enough for opponents of the project, but it seems they are more concerned about killing US jobs and ridding the US of a viable source of oil than protecting the aquifer.

“It’s our hope that (the delay) will kill the pipeline,” said Nick Berning, a spokesman for Friends of the Earth, a grassroots environmental group, to the International Business Times. “It’s simply not true that we need this oil.”

This couldn’t be further from the truth. We do, in fact, need this oil. In addition to doubling the amount of oil sand refined in the US, the pipeline could potentially lower oil prices and give the US a necessary alternative to oil produced in the Middle East.

Furthermore, what is the message the Obama administration is sending to oil companies? The application for the project was submitted to the U.S. Department of State in September of 2008. Why now, after three years have passed, is the US government making the decision to halt construction of the project?

It is possible that this is simply a political move by President Barack Obama. By delaying the construction of the project until after 2013, Obama has prevented the pipeline from becoming an election issue. It will enable him to enter the 2012 election with a stable voter base.

The Obama administration is sending the message to oil companies that the US is not a good country in which to do business. Most oil companies are already moving their operations overseas. This pipeline could have been a symbol of our nation’s commitment to the oil industry — an industry that employs and provides benefits to thousands of US citizens.

Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, is already considering focusing his nation’s oil resources in another direction — West. Harper talked to reporters on Sunday at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leader’s meeting in Hawaii about how the decision to delay construction of the pipeline will affect the future of Canada’s oil industry.

“This does underscore the necessity of Canada making sure that we are able to access Asia markets for our energy products,” Harper said.

Alberta Premier Alison Redford echoed Harper’s sentiments in the National Post on Monday.

“Reality is, Alberta and Canada will build markets, and we will go where there are markets available to us,” Redford said.

The Obama administration needs to be held accountable for its reckless decision to delay the construction of this project.

Hopefully, TransCanada Corp. will be able to finish the project. But if not, we will know where to place the blame.

Daniel Renfrow is an anthropology and print journalism double major and may be reached at [email protected]

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