Holding up Keystone won’t slow increase in oil to US: Doer

Oil by rail shipments have skyrocketed with a resulting increase in GHG emissions, US ambassador says.

February 10, 2014   by The Canadian Press

EDMONTON – Stopping the Keystone XL pipeline won’t stop an increasing amount of Alberta oil from getting to the Texas Gulf Coast, Canada’s ambassador to the US says.

Gary Doer said the amount of oil being shipped by rail south of the border has skyrocketed in the last two years with a resulting increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

“Oil by rail has gone up 48% in 2012 and it’s approaching 50% in 2013,” Doer said in his speech to the Canadian Club of Edmonton.

“If you choose not to build the pipeline and have oil by definition coming down by rail, you’re going to have higher (greenhouse gas emissions) and higher risk,” said Doer, citing last week’s US State Department report on the pipeline.


The $7-billion line would take crude from Alberta across the US to refineries and ports on the Gulf Coast in Texas.

While The State Department report, released last week, notes that oil sands operations generate 17% more greenhouse gas emissions than crude derived the traditional way, it found Keystone XL wouldn’t appreciably worsen carbon pollution.

But critics, including Hollywood celebrities such as Robert Redford and Daryl Hannah, are fiercely fighting the line.

They say the risk of a spill and environmental catastrophe outweigh the benefits.

They also contend that saying yes to the line further commits the US to a resource that increases greenhouse gas emissions and the threat from climate change.

Doer said there is broad support in the US for Keystone that can’t be ignored.

“Everywhere in our backyard where this pipeline goes, it’s supported,” said Doer.

He reminded the crowd that a coalition of Republicans, Democrats, labour and business leaders, and veterans groups joined him at a news conference earlier this week to push US President Barack Obama to approve the line, which has been proposed by Calgary-based TransCanada Corp.

“I always believe that if people support (the line) where it’s supposed to go, you shouldn’t listen to people from Hollywood when you can listen to people from Helena, Montana,” Doer said later to reporters.

Last week, Doer met with Premier Alison Redford to discuss Keystone and other ways to get more Alberta energy exports to US markets.

Former Alberta premier Ed Stelmach was among those who took in Doer’s speech. He later told reporters that while moving oil by rail is crucial, it is also displacing other commodities and manufactured goods.

“There’s only so much room through the pass and only so many locomotives to pull the cars,” said Stelmach.

He predicted tougher times ahead for agriculture “because we just can’t get our grain to market.”

©The Canadian Press

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