Danielle Smith, the leader of the Wildrose Alliance, argued this past Thursday that an oil pipeline should stretch from her home province of Alberta right across the country to Saint John, New Brunswick(1). Smith’s view echoes that of Liberal MP Dan McTeague, which he published in a blog post this past October (2), and opinions expressed by Ottawa representatives of the Pirate Party of Canada in their November 15th meeting (3) (though as with almost all PPCA member stances, is not the partys’ official position). Given the likelihood of the Wildrose Alliance giving Alberta Premier Allison Redford, a tight race in the upcoming Alberta election, this marks a major platform element as they step forward.
Canada is both a major exporter (from Alberta) and importer (from overseas) of oil, with oil exported from the West and imported in the East. By comparison, we export relatively cheap oil, and import a much more expensive product in an area that uses a large quantity. Past studies determined that building an oil pipeline from West to East would be prohibitive, but that study was conducted long ago, when oil was still universally cheap (in comparison). With the collapse of the Keystone XL project to the US, and growing difficulty in running a pipeline to Kitimac, BC for export to China due to both environmental and human rights concerns, the possibility of running a line East is quickly growing as a possibility.
Not only would a pipeline to the Atlantic open up additional exports and eliminate the need to import foreign oil, making the local oil market more self-reliant, it would also allow for an increase in manufacturing jobs across the country as bituman processing plants, working to supply local markets, are retrofitted and opened. A cross-country oil line could create both economic and job growth, also leading to growth in local spending as funds are freed up from the lower fuel prices. The Canadian benefits could add up very fast, as numerous external businesses, and their associated jobs, begin to grow around new and rejeuvenated oil processing facilities.
Alberta has long benefitted from oil export to the United States while the Eastern end of the country has been robbed by purchasing foreign oil. As the West has gotten richer, the East has gotten poorer, with sectors forced out of business by rising costs that can often be directly associated to the high cost of oil. As much as I love the idea of diversifying our power supply, by implementing various green technologies and power generating stations (Solar, Wind, Geothermal, or whatever), we need to leverage what we currently have in order to fund further growth. A solid footing must first exist before we can leap forward with something more experimental. Oil is Canada’s main leverage point, and we can reduce imports, fuel a localized Canadian economy in areas that have greatly suffered through the global economic crisis, and open up additional avenues for export.
The time has come to re-evaluate a pan-Canada solution to dealing with Alberta being a landlocked source of oil. There are a lot of communities East of Alberta that could grow and once again contribute positively to the Canadian economy if given the benefit of a cross-Canada oil pipeline with local bitumen refineries. As the refineries would be new, or retrofitted, ensuring that they follow green practices is a possibility, lowering their individual carbon footprints while growing a local manufacturing workforce and the numerous support services that come with them. I heartily agree with Danielle Smith, Dan McTeague, and Ottawa’s local PPCA members when they call for an oil connection from Coast to Coast. This would be a major national economy building endeavour that would benefit us all, and sincerely hope to see it come to life. It’d be doubly beneficial if they could also add solar or wind energy sources at the refineries to help offset the power requirements of the manufacturing process.
Popularity: 8% [?]
There are no comments on this entry.