As an American working to advance our energy renaissance, I was struck by Justice Minister Anton’s recent article (Financial Post, March 21) decrying the “particularly egregious” and “blatant U.S.-based interference in Canadian energy policy”.
My organization represents workers and businesspeople who build the pipelines that deliver oil and natural gas from America’s rich shale formations and Canada’s oil sands bounty to consumers throughout North America and, increasingly, globally. America’s recent rapid rise in production, closing in on the status of net energy exporter, has been made possible by new pipelines. This has given an enormous lift to its economy, its consumers’ and businesses’ prosperity, and to its energy security.
Canadians should be outraged by U.S.-based organizations funding opposition to much-needed new Canadian energy infrastructure that would confer the same benefits on Canadians. But those funders are not doing it to steal for America the benefits of deeply-discounted Canadian crude oil. They’re doing it to impair Canadian production. The lack of pipeline capacity to move oil sands product to Canada’s consumers and potential export customers forces huge discounts on Canadian producers who must ship their product by costly rail transport or by very limited southbound pipeline capacity to the only place it can now go outside Canada: America.
Those deep discounts drive some Canadian producers’ net revenue per barrel down to a point where production becomes uneconomic. I wonder if Minister Anton’s calculation of the huge penalty to the Canadian economy includes the lost income from great quantities of oil sands crude not produced because it would be unprofitable.
The U.S.-based groups cited by Minister Anton as funding and mobilizing illegal protests against the Trans Mountain and (the now suspended) Energy East projects in Canada are also attacking virtually every American oil and gas pipeline project. Theirs is a wildly wrong-headed crusade to “keep it in the ground”, by “cutting the veins” (pipelines) to “kill the heart” (production).
Here’s a rich irony. The U.S. House of Representatives Science Committee recently published a report finding that Russian government-funded entities are channeling resources and otherwise supporting American anti-pipeline zealots. Their presumptive motive, other than an overall strategy to sow discord in America, is to impair the growing U. S. energy export juggernaut which threatens Russia’s monopoly-stranglehold on Europe’s energy needs.
Canadians might want to check to see if Russians are also stoking anti-pipeline discord in Canada for the same purpose. But then why should the Russians bother, when their witting or unwitting accomplices in the U.S. extremist movement (whom the Russians cynically called “useful idiots”) are doing Russia’s dirty work in Canada for them? Canadians have every reason to be as concerned about U.S.-based meddling in their internal affairs as Americans are about Russian meddling in theirs.
Canada’s oil sands energy bounty is as crucial the Canadian economy and its citizen’s prosperity and well-being as are America’s shale riches to the American standard of living. If anti-pipeline, anti-oil and gas extremists were to achieve their clearly-stated mission to rid our countries of all fossil energy production and consumption, both our standards of living – the envy of most of the rest of the world – would plunge. A vast range of oil and gas-dependent items now taken for granted that economically provide our daily comforts – from fertilizer-produced food to apparel to smart phones to transportation to warm homes in the winter to name just a few – would become far less available and far more expensive, or disappear entirely from our lives. And the less well-off would suffer the most.
Let’s not only hope they fail; let’s mobilize in both countries to make certain they do.
Toby Mack, EEIA President