THE latest turmoil in the Middle East has sent oil prices up, with higher gasoline prices on the way. Good thing a Canadian pipeline project has finally been approved.
No. Not that pipeline.
As predicted, the Canadian government isn’t waiting for the Obama administration to approve the Keystone XL pipeline that would cross the international border and make its way to Oklahoma.
The Northern Gateway pipeline project still faces many hurdles, but it’s clear that Canada will find a way to export its oil sands. In contrast to Keystone, Northern Gateway would cross some truly pristine wilderness areas along its 731-mile route.
Standard arguments will be used against the project, including safety concerns. Such concerns also have been cited by the Obama administration in its continued refusal to approve a permit for Keystone to cross the border into the United States.
In a report released last week, the Manhattan Institute examined oil transport safety records and reached the conclusion that Americans are far more likely to get struck by lightning than to be killed in an oil and gas pipeline accident. And underground transport isn’t just safer for people. It’s safer for the environment as well.
“A review of safety and accident statistics provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation for the extensive network of existing U.S. pipelines — including many linked to Canada — clearly show that, in addition to enjoying a substantial cost advantage, pipelines result in fewer spillage incidents and personal injuries than road and rail,” the Manhattan report said.
While Washington dithers on this issue, the number of accidents involving rail shipments of oil is climbing. One of the worst took place last year in the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic when 72 rail tankers of crude crashed and killed 47 people.
Perhaps ironically, the oil being transported came from the Bakken field in the United States and was bound for a Canadian refinery.