With the Keystone climate protests in Washington bringing climate change back into the media, we're hearing a lot about how the Keystone pipeline will, at the very least, mean that we'll be getting our oil from a nice country. On NPR's All Things Considered (2/17/13) environment correspondent Elizabeth Shogren explained:
There's a benefit from this oil that comes from Canada. That means that oil won't be coming from the Middle East. And there are lots of reasons why the president wants to have oil from a friendly nation instead of from someplace far away.
Right wing pundit Charles Krauthammer (Fox News Special Report, 2/18/13) made the same point:
The Keystone issue is the most open and shut case I have ever seen. Not only will it reduce dependence on Hugo Chavez and the Middle East if we get it from Canada, and not only would it be an insult to slam the door on Canada, our closest ally, but refusing the pipeline and not building it would have absolutely zero effect on the environment.
And the USA Today editorial page (2/19/13) argues that
the pipeline would bring reliable new oil supplies to a U.S. that still imports 40 percent of its crude, 7.6 million barrels a day last year. And 40 percent of those imports come from OPEC nations such as Venezuela, Iraq and Nigeria. Keystone is expected to supply 830,000 million barrels a day, a key step toward the long-sought goal of North American energy independence, which suddenly seems attainable.
And from New York Times columnist Joe Nocera (2/19/13):
Like it or not, fossil fuels are going to remain the world's dominant energy source for the foreseeable future, and we are far better off getting our oil from Canada than, say, Venezuela.
One would hope by now that there's some understanding that this is not "our" oil. It would be sold on a global market, like any other oil. The fact that there is a massive pipeline being built to deliver the oil to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico could be a sign that the oil isn't, in fact, destined to stay in the United States, but will be exported and sold like any other petroleum. As a New York Times editorial (10/3/11) pointed out, "much of the tar sands oil that would be refined on the Gulf Coast is destined for export."
And it is worth mentioning that getting oil from Canada's tar sands will mean the destruction of boreal forests, with severe consequences for wildlife and wetlands. How on Earth the United States, or the world, is "better off" for having done this remains a complete mystery.
But at least it's not Hugo Chavez's oil.