Redford: Keystone XL an Environmentally Sound Way to Enhance Energy Security

Posted April 15, 2013 at 5:56pm

Like the people who live in the Canadian province of Alberta, President Barack Obama wants to balance strong environmental policy, clean technology development, energy security and jobs for the middle class and returning war veterans.

The United States imports more oil from Canada than it does from Mexico and Saudi Arabia combined. And for every dollar of oil the U.S. imports from Canada, 90 cents goes back to the U.S. economy through the Canadian import of goods produced in the U.S. This compares to 33 cents for Saudi Arabia and 46 cents for Venezuela.

The Keystone XL pipeline, a proposed 875-mile pipeline carrying oil from the Alberta oil sands to refineries in the Gulf Coast, would help strengthen that strong energy relationship between Canada and the U.S. and reduce America’s dependence on oil from producers such as Venezuela, Libya and Nigeria.

Keystone XL has broad bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress. The House has passed multiple resolutions endorsing Keystone XL and, just last month, 62 senators voted for a nonbinding resolution in support of the pipeline. These votes send a strong message of support for Obama’s “all of the above” energy strategy.

With strong demand for heavy oil in the U.S. Gulf Coast, Keystone XL is the most environmentally sound and efficient way to move more than 700,000 barrels a day through a new pipeline built to standards that exceed those normally required in the U.S. For Americans, this means getting their oil from the world’s most environmentally responsible energy producer.

I’m proud to say Alberta applauds and shares Obama’s strong desire to address climate change. In fact, we’re already taking action. In 2007, we became the first in North America to legally require all large industries — including oil and coal-fire electricity companies — to curb greenhouse gas emissions. And when industry exceeds established limits, they pay. Alberta charges a $15-per-tonne ($15-per-metric-ton) price on carbon in those circumstances.

And we invest the revenue generated from that price on carbon back into improving the environment — the money goes into a clean technology fund. To date, Alberta has collected $312 million and has already committed $181 million to 49 clean energy projects. Since implementing our climate change policy, Alberta has avoided 32 million tonnes of emissions — the equivalent of taking 640,000 cars off the road.

We want to do our part to address climate change and ensure we can help meet growing global energy demand. That’s why we invested $1.3 billion in carbon capture and storage projects to help drive the technology that truly can become a game-changer in reducing emissions. It’s also why we recently committed to a full-scale review and renewal of our climate change policy with plans to raise the bar further.

Additional unprecedented environmental efforts include an online oil sands information portal that allows users to clearly see the environmental indicators of oil sands production, a world-leading oil sands environmental monitoring program and a comprehensive land-use plan for the oil sands region that brings total conserved land within the oil sands region to an area larger than Connecticut, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia combined.

Alberta’s environmental record and our commitment to responsible stewardship of the oil sands are clear. We are the safest, most secure and responsible energy supplier to the United States and a reliable trading partner.

The Keystone XL pipeline is under consideration by the U.S. Department of State, and Congress should recognize the current federal regulatory process that evaluates such projects. We await the State Department’s decision on the project, and we know approving the Keystone XL pipeline is the choice of reason.

Alison Redford is the premier of the Canadian province of Alberta.