It seems that Canada, America’s friendly neighbor to the north (and beloved by the left for its universal health care system) has a new enemy to the south—environmental activists. Its crime? Wanting to use its natural resources.
In the Natural Resource Defense Council’s (NRDC) “onearth” blog, Andrew Nikiforuk lambastes Canada for a Calgary-based company’s attempt to build the Keystone XL pipeline to carry tar sands oil (“bitumen,” a type of petroleum) from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico—bringing upwards of a million barrels of oil per day to refineries in Texas. The construction of the pipeline needs approval from the U.S. State Department, sparking a two-week protest at the White House that landed 110 people in jail over the weekend.
In Nikiforuk’s eyes, the Keystone XL pipeline is only the latest sin staining Canada’s already black soul. Nikiforuk traces Canada’s misdeeds back to the Hudson Bay Company’s 17th century fur trade, in addition to providing pulp for the world’s newspapers, supplying cod to slave plantations in America’s South, and mining uranium for atomic bombs, all as if the country were a living, breathing monster come to life:
Although Canada pretends to be a jolly green giant, it is actually a resource-exploiting Jekyll and Hyde. Whenever global demand for metals and minerals booms, Canada takes on a sinister personality. And whenever export markets shrivel, the country temporarily retreats into a kindly figure with no memory of the misdeeds of his alter ego. But for most of Canada’s history, the nasty Mr. Hyde has dominated the nation’s economic life as a hewer of wood, a netter of fish, a dammer of rivers, and a miner of metals.
Relying on guilt by association and implication, the NRDC paints the desire to supply the world’s energy market with petroleum as a dastardly offense, urging its readers to “Blame Canada!”:
As China, India, and the United States have demanded more minerals and oil, Canada has answered the call by digging and drilling furiously. About 75 percent of Canadian exports now go to the United States. “Saudi Canada” became America’s top oil supplier in 1999 and now accounts for 20 percent of all U.S. oil imports.
Meanwhile, the lack of a domestic supply of oil has left America dependent on the Middle East and subject to the market fluctuations brought about by unrest in the region. The result? Americans paying over $3 per gallon for gasoline while struggling with 9.1 percent unemployment. And yet there sits in the Canadian wilderness a resource that could help America ensure its energy security. The Heritage Foundation’s David Kreutzer explains:
With its oil sands, Canada has more proven petroleum reserves than any country other than Saudi Arabia. A consistent ally and long-time friendly neighbor, Canada is exactly the sort of supplier the U.S. should want to fill the gap in the petroleum it cannot produce on its own.
The Keystone XL pipeline would bring the U.S. over a million barrels of petroleum each day—more than it imports from either Saudi Arabia or Venezuela (the U.S.’s two largest suppliers after Canada and Mexico). Along with the pipeline and petroleum would come increased energy security and a boost to the U.S. economy.
Unfortunately, though, environmentalists stand opposed to the pipeline, and the Environmental Protection Agency has taken steps to slow or stop its construction, despite even Secretary of State Hillary Clinton supporting the project. And those activists are willing to go to any lengths to demonize the project and keep it from getting off the ground.