Intelligent Discontent

Why Not Just Build the Pipeline Through Canada? They Can’t


One of the threats the Canadian government, oil companies and Republicans in the United States have raised about Keystone XL is the notion that, if not allowed to build the pipeline through the United States, oil companies will simply build it west to move the oil directly to the Canadian coast for shipment to China.

Why, then, hasn’t this happened? Because there’s no way the people of Canada will allow it to happen. The Canadian pipeline argument is simply a dishonest attempt to force the United States to bear the risks of the pipeline with little promise of profit.

Rick Smith and Andrew Light expose some of the reasons that the pipeline simply cannot be built west:

  • Pipeline construction will require the consent of indigenous peoples, who oppose the construction.
  • It will risk tourism and seafood jobs on the coast.
  • It will risk critical wildlife habitat and environmentally sensitive areas.
  • It would have to cross the Rockies, a far more daunting and expensive proposition than the plains of the Midwest.

Those reasons to oppose the construction of the pipe certainly sound familiar, don’t they? It’s almost unbelievable: those who are pushing so forcefully for the construction of the pipeline are arguing that American water, agriculture, health, and jobs should be sacrificed for a pipeline that Canadians either won’t or can’t build in their own country.

Are the profits of a Canadian oil company and a few short-term jobs really worth the potentially devastating impacts of an almost inevitable spill? Certainly not, especially when the oil will be shipped to world markets anyway–and actually raise prices on the people bearing the risks.

There are a number of excellent reasons why Canada won’t build this pipeline west, and we would be fools to ignore them.

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Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a sixteen year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate. In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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