DENNIS SEID: Pipeline politics benefits adversaries

By Dennis Seid | NEMS Daily Journal

Canada has the third-largest reserves of oil, and the United States’ friendly neighbor and ally to the north wants to send some of it to us.
About 800,000 barrels a day, in fact. That’s a small dent in the 18.8 million barrels of oil our country uses every day, but every barrel we don’t have to get from antagonists like Venezuela and Iran and unstable sources like Nigeria, the better off we are.
The U.S. supplies about 48 percent of its oil consumption, the rest of it imported.
Canada already is our largest supplier of oil, providing about 2 million barrels a day. Mexico is second, with 1.2 million. Saudi Arabia and Nigeria follow with 1 million barrels each. Venezuela provides about 820,000 barrels.
Last week, President Barack Obama blocked – temporarily, he said – a proposed pipeline from Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast. The 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline, offered up by Trans-Canada Corp., would be a $7 billion project that would cross six states.
Opponents say it’s an environmental disaster waiting to happen. Think Deepwater Horizon.
Proponents say the project would create 20,000 jobs, which likely is a bit inflated. Still, jobs will be created in building and maintaining the pipeline.
But par for the course, Washington can’t get anything done without casting stones at each other.
The Republicans set a Feb. 21 deadline for the president to make a decision; Obama said the arbitrary deadline did not give the administration enough time to review the environmental impact of the proposed pipeline.
Never mind that the project was first introduced in 2008.
But Canadian leaders are hopeful that the administration will eventually come around.
Said Alberta Premier Alison Redford, “The fact that the president has said that the decision was not based on the merits we take as a signal that there is an opportunity to make a decision that is in the national interest that allows the project to go ahead.”
And, oh, by the way, Canada said if the U.S. won’t pull the trigger on approving the pipeline, then it will look to Asia to sell the oil. By Asia, that means China, which has the world’s fastest growing economy and is the second-largest consumer of oil behind the U.S.
According to the Associated Press, Chinese state-controlled oil company Sinopec has a stake in a proposed $5.5 billion Northern Gateway Pipeline to the Pacific, so they’re already in the game.
If everyone drove less and drove vehicles that got 50 miles a gallon, we wouldn’t have to worry so much about oil. But the reality is we’re a long way from getting there, and we still need oil.
If we don’t buy it from our friends, we’ll continue to put money in the pockets of our enemies.
We can let China – again, not exactly a BFF of the U.S. – buy Canadian oil, or we can buy it ourselves.
Dennis Seid is the business editor of the Daily Journal. Contact him at (662) 678-1578 or dennis.seid@journalinc.com.