Sunday, January 15, 2012

Keystone, Northern Gateway pipelines raise questions that need answers before approval

The Star:  This is the most realistic and sensible perspective I've seen on the environment-oil-pipeline dilemma. Olive is right:  oil as our primary source of energy is not going to go away any time soon. It took well over 50 years to shift from coal as a primary source of energy to oil and natural gas.  Given the slow pace of commercializing innovations in alternative energy, the complexities of implementation, and governments' lack of political will to drive the development of alternative sources aggressively and cooperatively, it will be much longer before we witness a fully established energy paradigm shift - probably not in our lifetimes. 

Bottom line: while living with oil as the primary source of our energy - about which we have no choice -  we must in that context seek energy efficiency and ensure environmental safety everywhere we can in order to lessen the impact on the planet. This may involve focusing on the two pipelines not necessarily with the goal of stopping them since - let's be realistic - that's impossible, but with the goal of ensuring maximum environment safety and energy efficiency. That is actually acheiveable because both Trans Canada and Enbridge so desperately seek approval of these projects, and if we demand such stringency there's a very good chance they will accede.   Is such a position a compromise? You decide.

Robert Kennedy, Jr. said as much in his interview on CTV's Question Period. But David Hughes, a well-known energy analyst, says Gateway is unnecessary and that the pace of extractions from the tarsands themselves should be more evenly paced. Instead of pushing to sell oil to Asia and the U.S., he says, we should develop a comprehensive national energy policy and ship that oil east to central and eastern Canada to wean those regions off foreign oil, which is going to peak long before the tarsands. Agreed, but is there an ounce of political will from the Harper Regime for such a sensible idea?

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