By Lethbridge Herald on January 29, 2021.
The U.S. and Canadian governments working together on mutual interests could open a path to the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Gary Mar, Q.C. President and CEO. Canada West Foundation, was the guest speaker at Thursday’s Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs, discussing implications for Alberta’s energy sector as a result of the U.S. election in November with Joe Biden being elected president and the Democrats gaining control of both houses of congress.
Despite Biden formally announcing he was revoking a key permit for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, Mar felt a more collaborative approach on issues of mutual concern will return and continue the strong Canada-US relationship upon which Alberta’s energy sector relies.
“I could see a scenario where the United States and Canada working in concert on a whole host of environment and energy issues, you could find a pathway for the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline,” said Mar. “I think that whole issue of the merger of energy and environment going forward on a North American basis makes a good deal of sense for both the Prime Minister of Canada and for the President of the United States. It seems to me you need to have a North American energy strategy that looks at competitiveness to make sure we go forward and have a competitive energy supply as part of what makes up North America.”
An example of that, said Mar, is looking at the aspects both countries have in common.
“You’ve got a Canadian government that has hydrogen strategy and you have the United States very interested in moving to hydrogen. You have a Canadian policy on clean fuel standards the United States could be working to have a comparable CFS in the United States.
“If you look at methane regulations in Saskatchewan and Alberta, they’re far better than what you see in the United States. I think this is something the president of the United States would be interested in introducing in the U.S.”
Mar pointed to other aspects that tie Canada and the U.S. together, including a trading relationship that ensures they’re competitive with the rest of the world
“If President Biden were able to say ‘We’ve got an agreement with the Prime Minister of Canada on the following matters.’ then KXL can perhaps be a part of it,” he said. “Because we would rather get our oil from a friend, neighbour and ally rather than ripping it from foreign destinations. We can no longer rely upon Venezuela or Mexico or a whole host of other places to supply the oil we’ll need for not years to come, but decades to come.”
Mar said both the Canadian and American governments are interested in energy transition.
“But that doesn’t mean we’re going to be off oil in the next 10 years. If we look at credible sources of the International Energy Agency, we’ll still be using oil for decades to come. I think by putting environmental policies as part of it, we can make this case that one, energy is good and two, it’s emission that are bad. If we can transition to other types of energies while still using oil, if we can move to hydrogen, this would be a good thing. There are a whole host of policy issues that should be wrapped up together, in my view.”
Mar said as far as he’s heard, that is the work the Canadian ambassador and Alberta’s representative in Washington have been doing since the Biden administration took office.
“I give them credit for that,” he said. “Even though it has not resulted in keeping the revocation of the KXL presidential permit off the list on Jan. 1, that doesn’t mean we should give up. It would make it more difficult, in my view, to get KXL approved now, but there may still be a pathway.”
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