Despite the debt-ceiling stalemate, some bills are being passed. On Tuesday, July 26, the House approved a measure to speed up the approval process for a Canada-U.S. oil pipeline. FrumForum recently discussed the vote with two Canadian sources who have both been active in promoting the Canadian oil industry in the U.S, and their responses highlight the variety of approaches being used to do so.
On Friday, FrumForum participated in a conference call with Canadian Minister for Natural Resources Joe Oliver in which he spoke about the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The minister’s comments were notable for his calm and conciliatory tone. He preemptively acknowledged environmental concerns about the oil sands from which oil shipped through the pipeline would be drawn, acknowledging that “when looking to the oil sands, GHG emissions are an issue” but put the issue in context by noting that “Canadian oil sands account for … one-thousandth of the world [emissions] total.” Oliver was also careful to emphasize that “the government of Canada respects the U.S. permit process for this important project” and replied to a question from FrumForum on the multiple leaks suffered by an existing Canada-U.S. pipeline in recent months by expressing confidence in American regulators.
Former Canadian parliamentary staffer Alykhan Velshi took a very different tack. Velshi now runs www.EthicalOil.org, a website which sometimes uses graphic ads and other media to promote Canadian oil as an alternative to that supplied by repressive regimes in the Middle East and elsewhere. He saw the House vote as a sign that “momentum is building in the U.S. Congress to reduce American dependence on terrorist-supporting Saudi oil, and replace it with ethical oil from Canada’s oil sands.” Velshi’s framing was similarly stark throughout; he also declared that “President Obama needs to pick sides: should the US continue bankrolling its enemies by relying on anti-American oil from places like Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, or should it increase imports of ethical oil from allies like Canada?” and repeatedly referred to most non-Canadian oil as “conflict oil.”