U.S. Keystone pipeline decision should be based on science, facts: Oliver
Published Sunday, February 10, 2013 2:55PM EST
As newly appointed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry remains non-committal on the future of an extension of the Keystone XL pipeline, Canada’s minister of natural resources says any decision on the issue should be based on science rather than ideology.
Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver told CTV’s Question Period on Sunday that during Kerry’s confirmation hearing, the U.S. politician pledged to rule on the controversial pipeline based on facts.
“He's not driven in his passionate concern about climate change and the environment. He's not driven by ideology. He's driven by science and the facts, and that what drives us as well,” Oliver said.
Evidence will help build the case for TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline, said Oliver, which also addresses issues of national security, employment, economic growth and revenue.
The proposed pipeline -- which would transport Alberta oil more than 3,000 kilometres to refineries in Texas, crossing through multiple U.S. states -- has been protested against by environmental groups both in Canada and the U.S. over concerns that it harms the environment.
Oliver said the government is actively working to meet environmental targets on greenhouse gas emissions, air quality, water quality and pipeline safety.
“We're moving in lock-step with the United States on a number of critical issues, including our objective under Copenhagen to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 17 per cent from 2005 levels to 2020,” he said.
The minister also acknowledged the recently released report by Environment Commissioner Scott Vaughan, which said Canada was falling behind on its protection of the environment. Oliver said the government was taking steps to address the commissioner’s concerns.
“We're absolutely determined to do that because there are a number of areas that he identified that we have to do more about. Some of them we had already started on, for example the issue of offshore nuclear liability,” he said.
Next week, a massive protest against the Keystone XL pipeline is planned in Washington, D.C., as environmentalists hope to sway Kerry before he rules on the project later this term.
Oliver, who in 2012 called Keystone opponents “foreign radicals,” said the pipeline will represent one two-thousandths of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Oliver also said the oilsands will represent one one-thousandth of world emissions.
“These are relatively, you know, very small numbers, and of course they're improving all the time,” he said. “If you look at science and the facts, there really isn’t an issue.”
However Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says it’s too soon to tell how Kerry will rule on the Keystone pipeline, especially given recent statements from U.S. President Barack Obama.
“There is a lot of increased enthusiasm for what President Obama said in his inauguration address about the need for the United States to seize leadership on the climate issue to embrace clean technology,” May said. “I think we’re a long way from being able to know which way this is going to go.”
May said Kerry has actively participated in climate change talks in the past.
“I've seen him in climate negotiations when he had no other reason to be there except that he was concerned and committed. He showed up in Copenhagen. He showed up in Bali. This is a man who understands the climate issue,” she said. “I don't see John Kerry being at all happy with the prospect of approving Keystone XL.”
May said that even with recent pipeline endorsements from the science publication Nature and The Washington Post, the case for Keystone is undermined by Canada’s lack of a climate plan and withdrawal from environmental treaties such as the Kyoto Protocol.
“How do we tell Barack Obama accept our bitumen crude? (That) we're going to be good actors on climate. We don't have the credibility to say that, which actually undermines the case that the Keystone XL pipeline should be approved.”