The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Keystone XL and Oil Sands: ‘The Most Responsible Choice’

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted March 7, 2013

Joe Oliver, Canada’s minister for natural resources, making the case for approval and construction of the full Keystone XL pipeline – on economic and environmental grounds – at IHS CERAWeek:

“By any objective measure the most responsible source (for imported oil) is Canada. … There’s enough oil in the oil sands to meet the U.S. need for imported oil for at least the next 100 years. This could mean, with additional U.S. oil, independence for North America by 2030. What a great thing energy independence would be for both our countries.”

Oliver’s economic/strategic case:

  • The U.S. gets more imported oil from Canada than anywhere else in the world – more than the combined imports from Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Ninety-nine percent of Canada’s crude oil exports and 100 percent of its natural gas exports go to the U.S.
  • By 2035, the U.S. still will rely on imports for one-third of the oil it uses.
  • Construction of the pipeline would create 20,000 U.S. jobs, stimulate $20 billion in new spending in the U.S. economy and add $170 billion to the economy over the next 25 years. It would bring more than 800,000 barrels of oil a day to U.S. refineries.

Oliver’s environmental/scientific case:

  • The pipeline won’t adversely affect the environment – supported by the draft State Department environmental review released last week. Oliver said the same report also recognized the Canadian government’s efforts to reduce the environmental effects of oil sands production.
  • From 1990 to 2010 Canada achieved a 26 percent drop in greenhouse gas emissions per barrel of oil sands crude.
  • Oil sands total greenhouse gas emissions represent 1/1000th of global emissions. Crude transported by the Keystone XL would represent just 1/2000th of global emissions.
  • Canada is America’s largest supplier of heavy oil and the only supplier with robust environmental standards and enforcement.

Oliver said Canada has aligned its goals on greenhouse gas emissions with those of the United States:

“Unlike some oil-producing regions, Canada is a strong, stable democracy, the free market is respected, the rule of law prevails and there is a long, demonstrated commitment to environmental responsibility. The oil sands may be the most rigorously regulated and monitored industrial sector in the world.”

For economic, environmental and energy security reasons, Canadian oil – and specifically, crude from oil sands – is, in the words of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a “complete no-brainer.” Oliver:

“Canada is the environmentally responsible choice for the U.S. to meet its oil needs for years to come. … In a future where all countries need to take action to manage emissions, to protect their air and fresh water resources, Canada is the most and perhaps only responsible choice for the U.S. to meet its oil needs for years to come. What’s more, our commitment to environmental responsibility breeds innovation, which in turn improves environmental performance, creating a virtuous circle where innovation leads to better economic as well as environmental outcomes.”

The decision rests with the president. The case is clear. Our energy relationship with Canada is valuable, it is strategic. It should be strengthened – with construction of the full Keystone XL pipeline, as well as other infrastructure to fully develop Canada’s vast oil sands reserves. Building the Keystone XL would fortify our energy partnership with Canada and help North America gains greater control over its energy future. Oliver:

“Canadian oil is the logical choice to maintain and strengthen that relationship. Together we have an historic opportunity to generate employment, enforce environmental responsibility and achieve North American energy independence. Let’s take that opportunity.”


Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.