By Erin Drushel
I’ve been holding off on writing about the Keystone XL underground pipeline for some time because – simply put – I think it’s a bad idea, period. Not much more to say than that. But bringing the War of 1812 into the discussion – even in jest – has apparently struck a nerve.
Two oil spills – that we know of – have occurred in as many weeks here in the United States. One, an oil refinery malfunction in Chicago that dumped into Lake Michigan, and the other an interstate underground pipeline spilled an estimated 10,000 gallons of oil near a nature preserve north of Cincinnati, Ohio.
So, clearly the priority when talking about building a huge international underground pipeline must be a debate about who really won the War of 1812. No really, because we need to show how great the U.S.-Canada relationship has been since then. After all that’s what the pipeline is all about. (By the way, nice revisionist history America. Sure, you won…a battle two weeks after the war ended).
Just the absurdity of the conversation makes you wonder how seriously both countries are attending this issue. Yes, it’s been an insufferably long process and understandably both sides are a little punchy, but come on.
A few months ago I joined in on a conversation about Keystone XL with some American friends and was asked how Canadians were reacting to President Obama’s delay of the final decision. I’m sure some are upset on both sides of the argument; but I’m equally sure that some are just as happy for the president to wait until the next Canadian federal election when a more likely pro-Canadian-ideals government could be elected. It would certainly be easier for the president to say no.
But isn’t this delay essentially causing an international incident? Significantly less than an environmental disaster would. Remember when the lights went out in August 2003, it was all Canada’s fault…until it was actually America’s fault. Imagine the blame game – never mind the tensions – with an underground oil spill.
I’ve also had some Canadian friends say that the pipeline would be safer than shipping oil over the rails…really? So barrels and barrels of oil leaking undetected underground for a week is safer. Why? Because it’s not immediately going to impact us humans? And the possibility of the leak area turning into a barren wasteland isn’t going to affect us? Seriously?
Cash over common sense…is this, too, becoming a prominent Canadian affliction? I don’t recall the modern Canadian choosing to be so blind. Thank you Stephen Harper.
And another thing, many proponents say this pipeline – which would ship Canadian oil – will help ensure American energy independence. Unless “independence” was redefined without my knowledge, there’s something completely amiss.
Sure, as Canadians, helping our neighbours is just something that we do. But we shouldn’t be handing over our resources and potential jobs just to be neighbourly…especially not so the neighbours can turn around and sell our oil back to us at a mark-up.
But let’s remember this issue has nothing to do with the environment or the economy. It’s all about the good relationship Canada and the U.S. have had since the (apparently ambiguously decided) War of 1812. This good relationship will make everyone’s concerns all work out in the end.
I don’t know about you, but just because we’ve had a good relationship together, doesn’t mean we get to screw the environment together.
– Erin Drushel