Tag Archives: Keystone Pipeline

Canadian friend, RIP

Americans were reminded this week of what a tried sand true friend it has in its Canadian neighbor, a relationship virtually unique in the world.
Ken Taylor, Canada’s ambassador to Iran who snook Americans into his residence during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, passed away this week.. He was 81 suffering from colon cancer.
It was during the takeover of the American embassy in Tehran by the Islamic terrorists and their then Communist allies that Taylor hid the Americans at his home and that of his deputy, John Sheardown. He risked that he and his embassy, too, would come under fire. Three months later, Taylor arranged their escape by persuading the Ottawa government to issue counterfeit passports. Former Prime Minister Joe Clark, who cooperated with Taylor, just tweeted that his friend was a hero.
When six of the American hostages managed to sneak away – the other fifty-two American diplomats and citizens were held hostage for 444 days [November 4, 1979, to January 20, 1981], Taylor took them in. It wasn’t until Pres. Ronald Reagan entered the White House that the others were freed. Taylor’s wife recalling the scene said Taylor never hesitated. And Taylor’s friends were outraged when a film, “Argo” , opened at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2012 depicting the whole episode as a brilliant CIA plot.
Taylor’s exploits and the false narrative about them characterize that special, intimate and complex U.S.-Canada relationship. It has blossomed recently under Prime Minister Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper despite several big issues dogging it.First of all, Harper, a Western plains conservative, couldn’t be more different than Pres. Barack Obama, in strategies and temperament. And, in fact, under Harper, Canada has stepped out a bit more from America’s shadow internationally, taking a firm pro-Israel line in the Mideast in contrast to the kind of ambiguity recently demonstrated by Obama in reacting to the growing Palestinian violence. Harper also has had to deal with the issue of the Keystone Pipeline, lobbying openly in the U.S. for its authorization against Obama’s dithering, threatening to go west with the oil and gas to the China market rather than using the Houston international exit for other customers. But this has been part of Harper’s skillful management of a growing China trade and taking Beijing to task publicly and privately on its civil rights and and its aggressive feints in Western Pacific waters.
This era of more or less smooth collaboration may soon run into trouble waters if the polls are right.
Harper appears to be losing in Canada’s multi-party, infinitely federal-provincial elections scheduled this weekend [Oct. 19]. His chief opponent, Justin Trudeau and his Liberals, seem to be a chip off the old block of Trudeau’s father, Pierre Eliott Trudeau, Canadian prime minister during the decade of the 70s. Young Trudeau tempted to use his father’s plucking tailfeathers from the American eagle, always a useful tool among the Ontario Tory voters, descendants of the American Revolution. He has also stirred the nasty beast of French Canadian nationalism in Quebec to try to regain the Liberals’ base there.
On the American side, leading Democrat Candidate Hillary Clinton in our own 2016 elections is stirring the American pot too by more or less gratuitously coming out against the Keystone. Clinton like most of its diehard American environmental critics ignore that it would also be carrying American Dakota/Montana crude to U.S. refineries, reducing the growing threat of overloaded tankcars railway accidents
But, Hillary or Trudeau notwithstanding, we know the incredible deep and abiding close American-Canadian relationship that Taylor so personified is going eventually to win the day. And, of course, the ahistorical mainstream American media do need something to talk about so a successful Clinton and Trudeau would provide the verbiage.


A pipeline to …well, almost …eternity

Follow the money No. 97

A pipeline to …well, almost …eternity

Camouflaged by Congressional political badminton and Pres. Barack Obama’s demagoguery, the Keystone XL Pipeline Project represents solutions to economic and security issues far exceeding its general appreciation.

Half truths on all sides have obscured the project’s underlying fundamentals. Some are only emerging as additional research and technology is applied – most of it, for a change, good news in that it boosts estimates of access to available North American new fossil fuels reserves even if at higher prices.

Contrary to claims of Congressional proponents, the project is not an immediate positive economic bonanza. Like all natural resource development projects, construction employment will be temporary and jobs minimal when the pipeline is actually functional. Of course, given the current environment, any new jobs of any duration not added to the public payroll — the project is funded privately at something over $7 billion — is a godsend.

Its importance lies in its contribution to what should be a longer term U.S. energy strategy, a consideration often missing in heated partisan debate.

First of all, direct access to the Canadian tar sands affords fallback access for the almost bottomless U.S. energy maw – developing rapidly long- term whatever the short-term diminished demand of a temporarily crippled economy. Scandal after scandal is proving the Obama Administration’s so-called green energy strategy corrupt as well as wasteful and ineffectual. Keystone, on the other hand, would put crude into the Texas petrochemical refinery complex already absorbing Venezuela’s similar heavier oil – those reserves recently reestimated upward with spectacular finds on the Orinoco River.

That would give the U.S. not only an emergency alternative to the Venezuelan crude, fourth largest of our import sources, but leverage against the machinations of gringo-baiting Venezuelan Pres. Hugo Chavez. Given that country’s long troubled history, necessary insurance is needed even in a post-Chavez Venezuela [soon perhaps with reports the fiery demagogue may soon fall victim to cancer largely untreated so he could continue exercising his one-man rule].

The expanded pipeline proposal also now would pick up on its way the more attractive sweet crude from the Bakken strike in North Dakota, already one of the largest in U.S. history and apparently linked by new successful prospecting and new shale recovery technologies to huge neighboring regional deposits. With Bakken already having added an estimated 10% to American reserves, these could turn into the largest petroleum find in U.S. history.

As the pipeline travels south, it also aims at untangling a crude gathering traffic jam in Oklahoma and expanding the tanker delivery scene on the Texas coast.

But radical environmentalists had chosen – with the help of the usual Hollywood suspects assuaging their guilt for their gratuitously huge earnings – to make Keystone a major test. That was despite three years research by experts for the State Dept. had not turned up sufficient environmental issues to block the project. When local interests in Nebraska – ignoring the relatively clean record of the country’s vast pipeline networks – argued spills might threaten a critical local aquifer, the Canadian company countered with a $100-million-dollar detour around it.

Washington rumors are Sec. of State Hillary Clinton was not only not consulted but not forewarned when Pres. Obama, anticipating the 2011 election, threw a bouquet to enviromentalistas who had been increasingly jaundiced at his 2008 promises. But with even normally loyal trade unionists joining the outcry against the White House postponement to go ahead until after next year’s election, it was inevitable the issue would become a cudgel for the Republicans.

Canadian threats to transfer their affections to the Chinese market might have some validity – although even Chavez is arranging swaps with Iran for his Chinese sales with Venezuelan crude supposedly sold Beijing flowing into Texas. But level-headed Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper – an economist and native of Canada’s provincial giant oilwell, Alberta – may have overestimated American common sense. [Recent hints suggest Ottawa feels it is dealing with an overburdened, troubled U.S. and has to demonstrate inordinate patience for both their sakes. One has to wonder what the two chief executives talk about in frequent and what appear to be pleasant meetings!] But, in fact, Canada’s role as No. 1 foreign energy supplier to the U.S. – something forgotten in much of the talk about “American energy independence” – probably, rightfully, isn’t going away in the near future. The Republicans may be seeing to that.