Alberta Premier Rachel Notley welcomed the decision Monday by Nebraska’s Public Service Commission to give the go-ahead to the controversial Keystone XL pipeline project slated to run through the state.
Notley said the decision is another step in Alberta’s efforts to get its oil to world markets. But that’s just one victory. Notley pointed to the U.S. ruling as an example for Canadian regulators to follow, and stressed the need to complete the Kinder Morgan Canada project to expand an existing pipeline to the West Coast.
“We also need to access the Asia-Pacific market and we need to diversify our market in order to get the best price for our product and to reduce the degree which we suffer through a pretty significant discount in Alberta,” Notley said Monday.
Opening the route to Asian markets via the West Coast, besides benefiting Albertans, will aid the broader Canadian economy, Notley said.
While the Keystone XL decision is an initial victory for oil proponents, the approval won’t take the pipeline along the preferred route, but must be closer to TransCanada’s existing pipeline in Nebraska to maximize monitoring to to reduce environmental impact. And there’s no guarantee opponents of the project are through fighting. Who knows what hurdles the project will encounter farther down the road?
There’s no question these pipeline projects are important for Alberta. The province’s economy is still heavily reliant on oil revenue, and, let’s face it, the world is still heavily reliant on oil. Transportation and heating are the big users, but countless household products are also derived from oil — everything from carpets, roofing materials, tires and house paints to tape, deodorants, detergents and dentures.
Steps are being taken to lessen our dependence on fossil fuels, and advances are being made in that regard. Just last week, Tesla introduced its first electric semi-truck and grocery chain Loblaw signed on by pre-ordering 25 of the vehicles.
But it appears we’re still a considerable time from being able to drastically reduce oil consumption. Oil & Gas Journal, in a September article, reported that the annual International Energy Outlook of the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts oil consumption to increase through 2040. In July, Toronto Star business columnist David Olive wrote that oil production is expected to increase by nine per cent by 2035, and noted the International Energy Agency forecasts that oil demand won’t peak until the mid-2040s.
That means getting Alberta oil to market will continue to be important for at least another generation. Certainly that needs to be done in a way that respects environmental concerns, but the hard reality is we still need oil, and the province needs to sell its oil. We need oil for transportation and a countless list of products, and we need the revenue generated by the oil industry.
In view of that, Premier Notley can do little else but applaud decisions like Keystone and push for similar pipeline projects in Canada.