Rather than Get Even, Canada Needs to Get Smart About Keystone

By Colin Robertson

Disappointment, frustration, even anger, are natural reactions to the Obama Administration's Good Friday decision to delay, again, permitting the Keystone XL pipeline.

It belittles the Administration's promise of fair and timely process. It's a rebuke to a loyal ally who is also America's biggest customer.

Extending the process for more review, even with the Nebraska challenge, rings hollow especially, as TransCanada's Russ Girling observed, "after more than 2,000 days, five exhaustive environmental reviews and over 17,000 pages of scientific data."

The more likely reason: the White House calculation about the midterms and the contribution in money and campaign enthusiasm of the environmental movement.

There will be a Canadian temptation to ‘get even.' Resist it.

The United States accounts for 70 per cent of our trade and more than one third of our economic output.

Even without Keystone, oil is getting to U.S. refineries through existing pipelines and, increasingly, by rail and truck. That pipelines are the safer means of transport is acknowledged in the State Department's environmental assessment.

Rather than get mad, we need to be smart.

The Obama Administration likely will rag the puck on the permit until after the November elections. Meanwhile, our allies in Congress will continue to push. Most Americans favour the pipeline.

At home, we need to turn our energies to constructing east-west pipelines and terminals so we can get our oil and gas to tidewater.

With U.S. energy production rising, some Americans believe Canadian energy is unnecessary. They are wrong.

The U.S. imports 8-9 million barrels of petroleum daily; one-third from Canada. American reliance on Canadian oil is increasing (in January we supplied more than OPEC). But we need to get it there.

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A former diplomat, Colin Robertson is vice president of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute and a senior advisor to McKenna, Long and Aldridge LLP. Originally published on the Globe and Mail.

(AP Photo)

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