Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Environmental groups still hope to halt Enbridge Alberta Clipper line

WASHINGTON – In an announcement on Aug. 20 that surprised no one, the Obama administration approved construction of the proposed Enbridge Alberta Clipper Pipeline to carry oil-sands fuel from Canada into Superior, Wis., saying its action was designed to send "a positive economic signal in a difficult economic period".
Many environmentalists had expressed hopes that Hillary Clinton, secretary of state, would reject a permit to build the Alberta Clipper, a 1,000-mile pipeline designed to carry up to 800,000 b/d of bitumen from Canada's oil sands.
The State Department said greenhouse-gas emissions are best addressed through each country's domestic policies and a strong international agreement.
After undertaking what it said was considerable evaluation, the State Department said it would permit Enbridge Energy to build the pipeline to advance a number of U.S. strategic interests.
These interests include increasing the diversity of oil supplies for the U.S., amid political tension in many major oil-producing regions; shortening the transportation path for crude oil supplies; and increasing crude oil supplies from a major non-Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries producer.
"Canada is a stable and reliable ally and trading partner of the United States, with which we have free trade agreements, which augment the security of this energy supply," the State Department said ina prepared news release. "Approval of the permit sends a positive economic signal, in a difficult economic period, about the future reliability and availability of a portion of the United States' energy imports.''
The State Department also said the project would provide construction jobs for U.S. workers.
Environmentalists on both sides of the border seized on the approval as a contradiction of Washington's promise to cut global warming pollution and the U.S. addiction to oil.
"Importing dirty tar-sands oil is not in our national interest," said Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club, an environmental group. "At a time when concern is growing about the national security threat posted by global warming, it doesn't make sense to open our gates to one of the dirtiest fuels on earth."
Pope said that approving such a big, long-term project locked the U.S. into a dirty energy infrastructure for years to come. "This is exactly the kind of project the State Department should be protecting us from," he said.
An international coalition of environmental and Native American groups said they would challenge the permit in court to ensure all impacts of the pipeline were considered.
"The tar-sands pipeline connects U.S. refiners and consumers with the dirtiest, most carbon-intensive crude oil on earth," said Kevin Reuther, legal director for the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy.

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