WASHINGTON — The influential Washington Post editorial page gave its blessing Sunday to a controversial proposal to transport Alberta oilsands crude into the United States even as it maligned the energy source as “nasty.”
“The stuff is 82 per cent dirtier than more traditional oil, according to the Environmental Protection Agency,” read the editorial under the headline: Say Yes To This Pipeline.
“Oilsands crude is nasty, and the sooner the world stops burning it, the better. But that’s actually not much of a reason to kill the pipeline.”
That’s because the U.S. already has “plenty of unused pipeline capacity,” and so not building the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline wouldn’t affect oilsands productions for at least a decade. With or without the $7 billion pipeline, the Post argued, Alberta oilsands crude will find its way to the United States.
Instead of blocking the pipeline, the editorial added, Obama administration officials should concentrate on reducing America’s appetite for oil. The Post cited a recent U.S. Energy Department report on the pipeline.
“(The report) makes clear that the real way to reduce emissions resulting from the burning of oil extracted from oilsands and other sources is simply not to burn it — that is, to lower demand for the stuff.”
In his meeting with Barack Obama in the U.S. capital on Friday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he’d discussed the pipeline with the president.
At a subsequent news conference, Harper said that given America’s continuing appetite for oil, the U.S. was better off getting energy from a trusted friend than other parts of the world, alluding to Middle Eastern nations that are hostile to the United States. Obama didn’t weigh in.
“The choice that the United States faces in all of these matters is whether to increase its capacity to accept such energy from the most secure, most stable and friendliest location it can possibly get that energy, which is Canada, or from other places that are not as secure, stable or friendly to the interests and values of the United States,” Harper said.
The U.S. State Department is currently reviewing the proposal for the 3,200-kilometre pipeline.
Obama, meantime, has been pressured to kill the pipeline by environmental groups and Democratic lawmakers alike. He’s also advocated weaning America off foreign oil and has called for increases in funding for clean energy technology.
Environmental groups protested Harper’s White House visit. They delivered a letter to the Oval Office signed by 85 different environmental organizations united against the pipeline.