Jesse Parent comments on the fate of the Keystone XL Pipeline, via Danielle Droitsch’s “The Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline Is far from a Done Deal“.
To briefly restate the broader, geopolitical perspective: because carbon emissions and other ‘bad things’ related to Keystone XL, or any other versions of tapping Canada’s tar sands will be essentially the same if some other country (China) partners with Canada, the merits of blocking KXL are questionable. In other words, unless there will be protests in Canada to stop Chinese (or whoever) from taking Canada’s oil, then blocking KXL is relatively ineffectual, in terms of actually doing anything regarding emissions. (Related, the global energy demand for oil is not going away, especially in developing Eastern Asia, so there will be a strong market demand for Canada’s resources).
What it would impact is the US ‘political climate’, potentially; it might be a political statement from the US public that ‘we don’t want any more fossil fuel infrastructure in our country’.
While the merits of both of those points are somewhat relative to other factors, I ‘personally’ feel that if the US is ready to strongly denounced the development of new hydrocarbon infrastructure, and being locked in to hydrocarbon consumption, there needs to be an equally strong, if not significantly stronger, push on developing means to replace oil and hydrocarbon fuel usage. Legions of engineers and innovators should be storming universities, making startups, sharing practices with leading nations (because the US is barely one)…. but I don’t see this related push happening, not on the same scale that there is support for anti-KXL sentiments.
Without the focus on how to replace hydrocarbon usage, anti-KXL sentiments will be shot down each time, such as (seriously if not jokingly), EnergyTomorrow’s ”Life Without Fossil Fuels” political cartoons.
So in the mean time, there is relatively significant gap between ‘short term options to meet modern energy needs’ and ‘broader realization that our climate requires changes in how we use energy’. The US will probably either need to experience (continued?) severe devastation, or a severe realization that another country is ahead of them, to more actively try to bridge that gap.
In the mean time, other geopolitical realities play out and are more easily comprehended as pressing or salient. So, for now, they win the day.
I’d be surprised if KXL is fully blocked, I really would. I feel that if the US as a country is ready to say no to KXL, it might be able to say yes to other necessary changes in lifestyle to become sustainable, which may have significance in terms of other US geopolitical issues. Still, as at this time, I don’t think the US is likely to break any molds or trends or do anything other than trudge along its current path.
- Jesse Parent
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