Is the Northern Gateway Tar Sands Pipeline a Dead Deal?

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If so this would be great news, and give even more impetus to efforts to stop the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

Officially the Northern Gateway project is still an ongoing concern, but a new piece in The Globe and Mail argues that the pipeline—which would run westward from Alberta into British Columbia, from where tar sands oil would be exported to Asia—is "for all intents and purposes, dead."

Jeffrey Simpson goes on to say, despite the fact that project developers and the Canadian government keep pushing for it,

[The Northern Gateway pipeline] has too many obstacles now, and there will be more in the future. To survive, the Gateway pipeline would have to push past the growing opposition of British Columbians in general, the opposition of the current Liberal provincial government and the NDP government likely to replace it next year, the unanimous opposition of environmentalists, considerable opposition from at least some of the aboriginal groups along the route and, if all this were not enough, the likelihood of prolonged court battles. What’s not standing in the way are U.S. environmentalists, whom the Harper government accused of being the principal reasons for the project’s problems.

The practical connection with Keystone XL—a final decision on which has been punted off to after the November election by the Obama administration even though land clearing has already started, and which would be approved by Mitt Romney, should he win the day:

Pipeline capacity is a pinch point in the expansion of Canadian tar sands. Should the Northern Gateway pipeline get built and Keystone XL not get built, then there's still a new route for tar sands oil to get out to Asia—which is what both pipelines are essentially about, export, despite political rhetoric in the US about KXL furthering energy independence. Ditto the reverse. Different companies are involved, but what's at stake here in a transnational environmental context is the carbon emissions produced by burning tar sands oil and the resultant "game over" effect on global warming, to quote James Hansen. But if the Northern Gateway is functionally not a going concern, as the Globe and Mail piece posits, then it's incumbent on climate activists and environmentalists to redouble efforts to oppose Keystone XL. There's no longer possibility of resignation—as sometimes is voiced—to the fact that even if KXL is stopped the oil will just be shipped out via another route. Granted, tar sands companies will still push for other pipelines to expand distribution routes, but two of the major proposed pipelines will be stopped, buying a bit of time for the climate in which environmental sanity may prevail.

Tags: Canada | Tar Sands | Tar Sands Action