Yesterday, in Houston, Texas, Canada’s Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver promised that Canada will soon announce tough climate change regulations for its oil and gas sector. Following Ambassador Jacobson’s script, Oliver asserted:
“'Canada is the largest supplier of heavy oil to the U.S., and soon to be one of the few with stringent oil and gas GHG [greenhouse gas] regulations,' Mr. Oliver told a friendly crowd at the CERAWeek energy conference. 'In contrast, other suppliers are doing little or nothing to manage GHG emissions.'
“As a result, Canada represents 'the most and perhaps only responsible choice' for the United States to meet its oil import needs, he said.”
Will this ease Barack Obama’s decision-making on the Keystone XL pipeline? Is it even relevant? Not likely. Here, in the same story, is the response of a key anti-Keystone lobby:
“'We need a credible system that actually reduces absolute emissions,' Gillian McEachern, campaign director for Environmental Defence, said in an interview from Toronto.
“Ms. McEachern said Canada lags oil producers such as Norway, the United Kingdom and Australia in imposing climate regulations.”
These terms for agreeing to the pipeline, unsurprisingly, are impossible.
It’s quite feasible that Canada (and, hey, the United States, too) could significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions in absolute terms, nationally or in a continental deal. However, to expect Canada to cut emissions absolutely in its strongest export sector is, for the foreseeable future, an intolerable idea. Why not simply insist on a Western Canadian recession?
Furthermore, why should Norway’s off-shore environmental standards—whatever their supposed technical relevance—get into a decision about the responsible extraction of heavy oil in landlocked Alberta? What do they have to do with maintaining free trade in North America? Why isn’t it good enough for Canadian standards to be as good as—and improve in tandem with—environment standards within the US energy market?
It’s a safe bet that the climate change movement will never be cornered into going along with the Keystone XL pipeline.
Why let this decision fester on your desk, Mr. President?
By Canadian standards of good manners: Wouldn’t it be nice if—before you go to Israel to puff up a difficult conservative Prime Minister—you cleared up this pipeline question with a conservative Prime Minister in Canada, one who has caused you not a single serious worry in four years?