Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall makes environmental case for Keystone XL

Premier says Canada must create ‘environmental elbow room’ for Obama


Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall is in Washington today to press the case for the Keystone XL pipeline and to try to burnish Canada’s green credentials.

“We’re here principally to make the environmental case,” said Wall, who has been meeting with U.S. officials and lawmakers. The premier is giving speeches promoting Canada’s environmental record and  touting Saskatchewan’s clean-coal project which will capture carbon emissions from a coal-fired plant in North Dakota and pump it underground. (Carbon emissions from coal-fired plants are a leading source of carbon emissions in the U.S. “There is one coal-fire plant in Georgia that media reports say generates as much greenhouse gases as three-quarters of the oil sands,” said Wall.)

Wall said the U.S. State Department’s environmental report released Friday suggested “we are close to approval,” adding that Canada could give the president more leverage.

“We need to give them as much environmental elbow room as possible,” he told reporters at a breakfast near Capitol Hill this morning. “So to help with that elbow room, we are talking about our record in Saskatchewan.” He also mentioned Alberta’s carbon tax and the federal government’s promised emissions regulations for the oil and gas sector, which have not yet been announced.

He said Canadian advocates should shift from making economic and energy security arguments for the pipeline. “We really need to make more of an environmental case for this project,” he said. “There is a record that I would argue that is as aggressive, or maybe more than you would find here, in terms of energy and the environment, but we haven’t talked about it much.

“If the president can’t point to the fact [and say,] ‘Look, here’s what Canada’s doing. In many respects it’s more than is happening here, and more than what is happening in many countries in the world,’ then I think it helps the administration make a decision that I think now is lacking a lot of barriers,” he said. “I think that’s maybe some of the environmental elbow room we can give to the administration to make the decision; [that is,] to say we care about the issue — and we are putting our money where our mouths are,” said Wall.

Saskatchewan doesn’t have oil sands, but Wall says the province is directly affected by the project because it produces conventional oil that would be carried in the pipeline. Without access to the pipeline, Saskatchewan oil currently sells at a discount of 19 per cent, costing the provincial Treasury $300 million in lost revenue, Wall said. He emphasizes that up to 15 per cent of the oil in the proposed pipeline would be conventional oil.

But linking the decision to Canadian environmental policy is a delicate task. Afterall, it was Wall who responded with indignation when U.S. ambassador David Jacobson gave a speech implying Canada could make the decision easier for Obama by taking more climate action of its own. Wall penned a letter to Jacobson questioning those remarks. Today Wall said the ambassador’s comments seemed to imply a “quid pro quo” exchange of pipeline approval for tougher domestic regulations. “That kind of linkage — I don’t think it’s helpful,” he said. “We got a response back from ambassador and we’ll take them at their words that is not the case.”

Wall added that Canada must do more to publicize existing policies. “It’s not a quid pro quo. This is what we’re doing already. (…) These things are happening not because we’re trying to get Keystone approved,” he said. “We haven’t done a good job of talking about them. I freely admit we should have been doing a better job in this city, this country [saying] — here’s the economic case, here’s the energy security and oh, by the way, we care about the environment and here’s what we’re doing with respect to the environmental piece of this. We should have been on it sooner, but we’re on it now.”

Yesterday, he met with members of Congress, mostly Republicans who support the pipeline. But he did have a 10-minute “hallway meeting” with Massachusetts congressman Ed Markey, a leading Democratic climate hawk in the House of Representatives. He said Markey asked if  the pipeline was really aimed at exporting Canadian oil beyond the U.S. (Wall says most of the oil would stay in the U.S. but some refined products would be exported.) Today, Wall gives a speech at the Woodrow Wilson Center (video), and  meets with Democratic senators and Kerry-Ann Jones, the assistant Secretary of State, who has been leading the Keystone XL review. He’s inviting them all to Saskatchewan.


Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall makes environmental case for Keystone XL

  1. “…here’s the economic case, here’s the energy security and oh, by the way,
    we care about the environment and here’s what we’re doing with respect
    to the environmental piece of this. We should have been on it sooner,
    but we’re on it now.”

    Politicians are pathetic at times – Wall is no different. They put the environment
    on the back burner, and leaned on sometimes spurious economic and energy
    security arguments, along with a full frontal attack on the
    environmental movement instead. IOWs the energy sector and its friends
    in govt choose to be confrontational rather than proactive.Now Wall wants rational
    observers to believe he’s been on the ball all along. Only a politician
    or a salesman [ same thing] could be so willfully delusional. No wonder so many
    enviros are so distrustful of these guys. Why couldn’t the oil/coal
    industries have shown a little honest to goodness leadership and team up
    on this problem [ thereby helping us and heading off a major headache
    for themselves] in a proactive manner? But no! Always they have to be
    dragged kicking and screaming, lying and denying, all the way toward
    doing the right thing. It is enough to make you despair about human
    nature on slow days. Churchill had it exactly right when he said: the
    purpose of govt is to exhaust every single opportunity to get it wrong,
    before finally doing the right thing.

    • I’d feel some amount of sympathy for what you are saying here kcm2, if people in your social class were willing to pay any of the costs for environmentalism themselves. You guys want environmentalism, but god forbid if the price of your gas or your food goes up.

      When is the consumer class going to show any leadership?

      • “My social class”…my god! And Conservatives like you have the nerve to call other people out for being judgmental and patronizing!

        I’d like to feel some sympathy for your observations. Unfortunately your gross assumptions get in the way.
        My family drive the most fuel efficient vehicles we can afford. We buy locally produced food and products if we can. We don’t live in a house that is designed to showcase our social position, or is larger than our minimal needs. We fly as little as we can – no so called freebie extra holidays on air miles cards. Contribute what we can to responsible enviro orgs we respect – and preferably personally know…
        I’m personally prepared to pay the legal and social penalty of any civil disobedience i may engage in.
        Can you say as much? I hope so. I’m no wannbe hippy cum enviro. And I don’t want my kid to live in a cave, or live on granola. But i expect my country, my govt, my Canadian corps to put the common good on at least the same stove top as they do purely economic interests.
        Making unwarranted assumptions about others only leads to making an ass of oneself.

        • Yeah right. That’s why organic farms are failing, why the planes are crammed full of people, and urban sprawl is only growing bigger. It is all the fault of those evil producers.

          That’s also why the NDP are saying that they are going to make producers pay for all the increased costs of pricing carbon. Because consumers like you are willing to pay for what you guys like to complain about.

          Don’t make me laugh.

          • You attacked me for belonging to a specific “social class” with zero evidence. Now you seem to think i’m a dipper. Man up buddy, and stop over generalizing.
            I never said that producers should bear the whole burden, obviously there is the demand side to be dealt with.
            You know i’m starting to think this is the way do nothing, cons like you justify your defense of the status quo – basically by claiming until all the critics are as pure as the driven snow,we shouldn’t point any fingers at govt or big oil or big anything, that you think is ok.
            If the big boys start to show some leadership [they will eventually] the ordinary folks will eventually make the necessary sacrifices to do their bit. People like you make me sick.It’s always the people with the least actual direct power that have to prove their case, sacrifice first.As i pointed out to you many are doing what they can. If i were living in a cave, eating only granola and wearing skins, you wouldn’t be applauding; you’d be calling me a blue skying commie loving hippy or something. It’s always the perfect being the enemy of the common good with people like you.

          • Hah, consumers have the least amount of power. Don’t make me laugh. Most of the time producers are the price takers. You guys are willing to pay a certain price for things, and we have to match it.

            Consumers set the price, consumers set the trends. You want green energy, purchase it. You guys have all the power, we don’t. You side gets your way, politically and economically 90% of the time.

            But oh, we’re the big sinners that need to be ashamed of ourselves. We are just giving you what you want at the price you are willing to pay. That’s the true heart of the matter. My point was you should be ashamed at yourself a little bit before you act like a self-righteous ass.

            I also do not believe that your life is as environmentalist as you claim. I live in an apartment and take public transportation. I do not drive a “fuel efficient vehicle” and live in a “modest house”. But I do in fact have many friends and relatives who work in the oil and gas industry. I have many others who are producers in the agriculture industry.

            The common denominator is that consumers like you demand greater regulations and externalities accounted for, but expect us to shoulder all of the burden of the cost. New facilities suddenly need to be built because of the regulations? Screw you, you’re stuck with the bill producers. Oil and Gas prices going up a little bit? Screw you, we’ll put a price ceiling on it and have the bankruptcies in your province rise by 150%, destroying homes, marriages and even people’s lives.

            You may believe a little bit in the environment, but I doubt that you, and people like you, are willing to make sacrifices for it. The left wing parties you support certainly have never asked it of you. They just ruin our lives instead.

          • I expect you to shoulder the all the burden of the cost – sure that’s why i favour a carbon tax, so you can pay it all…you’re argument is moronic.
            And what’s with all this “us” and consumers like you crap? You’re a consumer too, idiot. You’ve switched pronouns there so often i can’t figure out who “you” are. You also seem to making some kind of class envy argument…poor you live in an apartment, forced to ride the bus, dig up turnips while i sip lattes, and admire my 40 yr old house and two cars that are almost as old when combined… Jeez are you a Conservative or what!
            And it may have escaped your notice, but the current method of regulating GHGs [price on carbon] is the most expensive and least cost efficient. And it is being born as much by your precious producers as by those feckless consumers.
            It is simply a waste of time arguing with self righteous, narrow minded ideologues like you in any case. Take your sanctimonious convictions elsewhere.

  2. Compare and contrast:

    1) Brad Wall: “We know oil is harmful to the environment. But people are going to use it regardless, and at least this way we minimize the harm.”

    — Has enthusiastic support from conservatives

    2) Insite: “We know heroin is harmful to health. But people are going to use it regardless, and at least this way we minimize the harm.”

    — conservatives are violently opposed

    Go figure.

  3. “Saskatchewan doesn’t have oil sands”? Wrong. Saskatchewan has oil sands. Perhaps whoever made this error (Maclean’s or Wall) needs to look into the matter more closely.

  4. By Timothy Gardner

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – After
    the Keystone XL oil pipeline cleared an important hurdle last week,
    critics of the project are searching for ways to force more of the
    delays that have dogged it for more than four years already.

    The State Department said Friday that TransCanada Corp’s pipeline
    from the Alberta oil sands to Texas would not add to global greenhouse
    gas emissions because oil sands crude will make it to market whether or
    not the project is built.

    That interpretation neutralized a major argument that many
    environmentalists have put forward against the 800,000 barrel per day
    pipeline: that once built it would usher in greater development of the
    oil sands, where production is carbon-intensive.

    The public has 45 days to comment on the State Department’s
    review. Once that step is taken the department has 90 days to determine
    whether the project is in the national interest, with a decision
    expected in August or later.

  5. Weird. Bugging them to bits about it, ….something we’ve been doing for ages…..is going to make them suddenly feel kindly towards us?

    Those kind feelings, will in turn, decide a multi-billion dollar pipeline that they may not see as good for their own country?

    We tell them them what enviromental wonders we are and they will believe us totally in spite of our Fossil Award Wins that are known worldwide, and our recently done, ‘trade in Polar bear body parts’ that the US opposes?

    Last question: How the hell did Brad Wall get elected??

    • By being a better option than the NDP, who proposed silly economic policies like rent control.

      • Unlikely that would sound silly in Saskatchewan.

        • Is that because you believe that rent control works, or because you believe people in Saskatchewan believe that rent control works?

          • ‘In the 1944 election, the Saskatchewan CCF, led by Tommy Douglas, swept to power. They took 47 out of 52 seats.[9] Since that election, the CCF/NDP has won 12 out of 17 elections and held power for 47 of 63 years (as of 2007).’


          • Yep, and we were poor for a long time as a result, in a resource rich province. Eventually we got tired of it.

          • No, you just went stupid in the opposite political direction. You’ve always lived on resources.

  6. I’m not sure of the carbon/pollution economics of future thermoplastics manufacturing; there may be too many additives for a local advantage…but if the bulk of a biosensor or wind turbine part or plastic battery part, is in the recyclable thermoplastic manufacture, there is no need for pipelines nor the need to export manufacturing jobs away from the Prairies. Easy # equals dumb Prairie industrial policy. SK would’ve opposed CD HOwe and might’ve lost WWII.

  7. Unless the southeast corner of Saskatchewan has been taken over by North Dakota the clean coal conversion plant is near Estevan, SK.

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