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from The Great Debate:

On Keystone pipeline, consider Canada

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The Oscar for Best Picture last month went to Argo, the Ben Affleck movie about the Canadian government’s help in spiriting U.S. diplomats out of Iran during the hostage crisis  – which  underscores the United States’ historic relationship with its closest ally, Canada. Back in the real world, however, the Obama administration is on the verge of severely damaging this strategic partnership with its poor handling of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

The State Department’s favorable draft environmental analysis, released on Friday, should pave the way for final administration approval of the pipeline. Of course, the State Department has already gone through this process once before. Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton deemed Keystone XL to be in the national interest – only to have President Barack Obama shelve the project in January 2012, during the run-up to his re-election campaign.

If Secretary of State John Kerry reaches the same conclusion as Clinton, as expected in coming weeks, the ball will be back in Obama’s court and the ultimate decision on this important project will be in his hands.

Obama must weigh the  thousands of high-paying manufacturing and construction jobs that Keystone XL would create in the United States against the  pressure to reject the project from environmental groups, including the Sierra Club. If the Obama administration gives Keystone the thumbs-down, not only would the White House unnecessarily forgo a project that would lead to significant job creation, domestic investment and reduced government debt but it would also  do great damage to Washington’s relationship with our neighbors to the north.

from Tales from the Trail:

Does Gulf spill controversy stretch all the way to Canada?

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OIL-SPILL/Oil and gas spewing from that broken wellhead in the Gulf of Mexico has spread at least as far as the Florida coast, and could go further. Controversy and questions about the relative safety of different kinds of fuel pipelines may have spread over an even wider area -- taking in Washington DC, Alberta, Canada, and a big slice of the U.S. heartland.

Have the ripples from that BP spill reached the U.S. State Department? At least one environmental group thinks that could be the case. The State Department, which approves energy pipelines that cross international borders into U.S. territory, is considering the environmental impact of a massive pipeline that would have stretched from Canada's oil sands fields all the way to Texas. But on Wednesday, the department extended the public comment period for the Keystone XL Pipeline Project a few weeks, from June 15 to July 2, with additional public meetings on the project on June 18 in Houston and on June 29 in Washington DC.

from Environment Forum:

A messenger Canada would rather ignore

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If there's one person the Canadian government would perhaps rather not hear from right now, it's Tim Flannery, the vocal Australian climate change campaigner. Canada, which over the last 20 years or so has largely preferred to let economic development trump environmental concerns,  is trying to keep a low profile in the run-up to the Copenhagen meeting in December charged with producing a successor to the Kyoto accord.  Canada's Conservative government -- following the lead of former U.S. President George W. Bush -- walked away from Kyoto on the grounds that it would damage the economy. Canada has made an enormous amount of money shipping oil to the United States, much of it from the tar sands in the western province of Alberta. Developing those sands burns up a huge amount of carbon and Canadian emissions are rising steadily, so it's no coincidence that Canada says it is for action on climate change while allowing responsible economic development.  Environment Minister Jim Prentice told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp on Wednesday that Canada would bring "a reasonable constructive approach" to Copenhagen.  This is a message which wins few friends among environmentalists.

Flannery rolled into town on Wednesday and loudly announced that Ottawa's role in the talks leading up to Copenhagen so far had been very unhelpful. "We desperately need Canada to play a much more positive role in the coming months . . . the Canadian government is largely isolated in its stand vis-a-vis the Copenhagen agreements. It would be tragic, I think, to see a country like this standing in the way of agreement," he told reporters.

from Environment Forum:

“taking cars off the road”, or climate tokenism?

There's no shortage of references these days in corporate and government reports to earnest, new steps to fight climate change. Often they promise to make carbon emissions cuts equivalent to taking millions of cars off the road...

For example, take Europe's fourth biggest single source of carbon emissions, Britain's Drax coal plant. It said in March that as a result of efficiency improvements it had cut carbon emissions equivalent to taking 195,000 cars off the road.  But of course that was a cut against a theoretical projection of rising emissions -- not an absolute cut.

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