The XL Keystone pipeline has become a divisive issue in the United States and to some extent in Canada. While the pipeline is controversial the real crux of the issue is the very existence of the Alberta oilsands, which environmentalists have dubbed the "Tarsands," claiming that its carbon emissions will be the death of the planet.
A protest, reported on by Digital Journal,
states that an estimated 35,000 people arrived in Washington DC on a brisk and windy Sunday for the "Forward on Climate Rally". Activists protested several issues that are facing North America today regarding the future of energy.
According to CBC news
, organizers pegged the attendance at 50,000, but a one police officer in attendance said he thought the figure was closer to 10,000 as the rally got underway. While the actual attendance figure is irrelevant, suffice to say that thousands of climate-change supporters attended and put pressure on the Obama Administration to nix the project.
Attendance figures are often overestimated by organizers and this was no different during Glen Beck's "Restore Honor Rally," were media reports and those of organizers varied from tens of thousands to half a million.
The XL Keystone Pipeline, climate-change, controversial science.
The XL Keystone pipeline
first received regulatory approval from Canada's National Energy Board (NEB) in 2010. Since the pipeline required a presidential permit because it crossed international borders, the permit was rejected by President Obama, citing environmental concerns because of the sensitive Nebraska Sandhills.
In May 2012 TransCanada submitted a new application for a presidential permit and in September 2012 submitted its new route, bypassing the Nebraska Sandhills. The new route was approved by the Nebraska legislature in January 2013 and subsequently Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman gave the nod to the pipeline.
The US State Department, which grants the presidential permit, will be making its recommendations to President Obama, who is expected to make the final decision in the first quarter of 2013. While John Kerry, who now heads the State Department, has not hinted which way he will go, he has stated during a visit by Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird that his decision would be based on facts and science and not ideology. Kerry is a climate-change advocate and it is hard to see how he could not weigh his ideology.
The decision, which rests with President Obama, has created a dilemma. Does the president, who put a new emphasis on climate-change and carbon reduction during his inauguration speech, turn his back on the environmental base or does he fracture a relatively excellent relationship with his biggest trading partner Canada.
Both Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper
and Alberta's Premier Alison Redford are advocates for the pipeline and see it as an engine of growth and an opportunity for job creation. Canada insists that it is synchronizing its environmental policies with those in the United States which includes targets for emission reduction and producing more fuel efficient vehicles.
Canada’s Conservative government has said the country’s economy, employment and national security stands to benefit from the Keystone project.
Jay Ritchlin, a director general with the David Suzuki Foundation, says Canada could seek energy alternatives to invest in jobs and economy in a way that will reduce carbon emissions.
The science of climate change is controversial
and there is disagreement among scientists. An article released by mail on line
in October 2012 claims that a UK Met Office report released quietly reveals that there has been no discernible rise in aggregate global temperatures between 1997 and August 2012.
The figures reveal that from the beginning of 1997 until August 2012 there was no discernible rise in aggregate global temperatures
This means that the ‘pause’ in global warming has now lasted for about the same time as the previous period when temperatures rose, 1980 to 1996
The world stopped getting warmer almost 16 years ago, according to new data released last week.
Climate change advocates
claim that during the 20th century alone, surface temperatures on the planet have risen 1.2F to 1.4F. Carbon dioxide is claimed to be the primary greenhouse gas responsible for global warming and that carbon emissions have gone up by 6 billion metric tons since the early 1990s. This represents an increase of 20 per cent.
The Alberta oilsands are an easy target.
While Canada is listed eighth in worldwide carbon emissions, behind China and the US, by a significant margin and also behind the UK, the EU and green energy conscious Germany, it has become an easy target for environmentalists. Aerial pictures of the open pit mining at the Alberta oilsands are easily taken and provide a visual dramatization of the alleged destruction. Essentially is has become the poster child of environmentalists.
There is a requirement to balance the environment and ensure best practices in any future development and the Alberta government in conjunction with the industry is certainly doing that. The fact is that oil is still the major engine of modern economies. Sustainable green energy should be pursued, but there also needs to be a reality check that energy production for the time being is still largely dependent on fossil fuels.
Efforts have to be concentrated on the globes biggest polluters. One has to ask where the protestors are in China, where the population is almost suffocating from dirty coal emissions? You guessed it, they wouldn't be tolerated.
The debate on climate change needs to continue and as a global community we must endeavor to do better, but let's be honest and civil in the debate. Distorting the truth does not serve anyone well.