Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Alberta places pipeline ad in U.S.

Scathing editorial prompts $30K reply

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EDMONTON -- The Alberta government, continuing to press its case for the Keystone XL pipeline, took out an ad in today's New York Times, tying the controversial project to core American values and to U.S. military pride.

Headlined "Keystone XL: The Choice of Reason," the half-page ad acknowledges the validity of environmental concerns, but stresses the $7-billion pipeline is about much more.

"America's desire to effectively balance strong environmental policy, clean technology development, energy security and plentiful job opportunities for the middle class and returning war veterans mirrors that of the people of Alberta," reads the $30,000 ad.

"This is why choosing to approve Keystone XL and oil from a neighbour, ally, friend, and responsible energy developer is the choice of reason."

Stefan Baranski, a spokesman for Premier Alison Redford, said the ad was taken out to counter a New York Times editorial that ran a week ago urging U.S. President Barack Obama to reject the 1,800-kilometre TransCanada (TSX:TRP) line.

"It's important for Alberta to get the facts on the table as widely as possible," said Baranski.

"The Sunday Times is a critically important audience to speak to, and I think Alberta has a good track record, a very good story to tell, and it's important that we're out there telling that story at this very critical time."

Obama is expected to decide the fate of the pipeline in the next few months.

If approved, Keystone XL would take oil from Alberta's oilsands through the heart of the U.S. Midwest to Gulf Coast refineries in Texas for shipment around the world.

Alberta and the federal government are urging Obama approve the deal to open up new markets for the oilsands.

A glut of oil due to new finds in North Dakota coupled with pipeline bottlenecks in Canada are squeezing the price of the oilsands product compared with the North American benchmark West Texas Intermediate. That price gap will cost Alberta an estimated $6 billion in lost revenue this year alone.

Keystone proponents, including labour groups and the petroleum industry, got a boost two weeks ago when the U.S. State Department, in a preliminary report, said rejecting Keystone XL would not reduce greenhouse gas emissions or slow down oilsands development.

Protesters, meanwhile, have gathered by the thousands in Washington in recent weeks to demand the project be abandoned.

For them, the carbon-intensive oilsands operations are a symbol of greedy, shortsighted thinking. Approving Keystone, they say, encourages producers to pursue high-carbon operations that will boost greenhouse gases already causing climate problems like higher temperatures, superstorms and flooding.

The New York Times, referred to by some as the paper of record in the United States, agreed with that position in its editorial last Sunday, saying Obama must adopt a broader view and take a stand.

A yes to Keystone XL, said the Times, makes it economical to expand the oilsands, resulting in even higher greenhouse gas emissions and more collateral environmental damage like denuded landscapes and polluted waterways.

The Alberta government ad takes pains to make the case for the province's environmental responsibility. It reiterates previous arguments that Alberta is financing more clean energy projects and is the first North American jurisdiction to charge large emitters $15 a tonne on carbon.

"Greenhouse gas emissions from all the oilsands in Alberta, Canada, make up just over one-tenth of one per cent of the world's emissions," said the ad.

The province pledged to reduce emissions by 50 megatonnes a year by 2020 but has averaged just over five tonnes a year since 2007.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 17, 2013 A6

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