by Jon Sanders
Director of the Center for Food, Power, and Life, Research Editor | John Locke Foundation
To put the speech by the character Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) from “Jurassic Park” in an economic context:
John, the kind of control you’re attempting simply is … it’s not possible. If there is one thing the history of economics has taught us it’s that the entrepreneurial spirit will not be contained. It breaks free, it expands to new territories and crashes through barriers, painfully, maybe even dangerously, but …. Well, there it is. Entrepreneurs find a way.
In this instance, the kind of control that’s being attempted is by miserable environmentalists, through their willing ally in the White House, to prevent crude from the incredibly resource-rich oils sands in Canada from reaching refineries in Texas and Louisiana by stonewalling on the Keystone Pipeline.
Now from Bloomberg comes this news, under the headline “Keystone Be Darned: Canada Finds a Surprise Pipeline Route Bypassing Obama“:
In this period of national gloom comes an idea — a crazy-sounding notion, or maybe, actually, an epiphany. How about an all-Canadian route to liberate that oil sands crude from Alberta’s isolation and America’s fickleness? Canada’s own environmental and aboriginal politics are holding up a shorter and cheaper pipeline to the Pacific that would supply a shipping portal to oil-thirsty Asia.
Instead, go east, all the way to the Atlantic.
Thus was born Energy East, an improbable pipeline that its backers say has a high probability of being built. It will cost C$12 billion ($10.7 billion) and could be up and running by 2018. Its 4,600-kilometer (2,858-mile) path, taking advantage of a vast length of existing and underused natural gas pipeline, would wend through six provinces and four time zones. It would be Keystone on steroids, more than twice as long and carrying a third more crude.
Its end point, a refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick, operated by a reclusive Canadian billionaire family, would give Canada’s oil-sands crude supertanker access to the same Louisiana and Texas refineries Keystone was meant to supply.
As well, Vladimir Putin’s provocations in Ukraine are spurring interest in that oil from Europe and, strange as it seems, Saint John provides among the fastest shipping times to India of any oil port in North America. Indian companies, having already sampled this crude, are interested in more. That means oil-sands production for the first time would trade in more than dribs and drabs on the international markets. With the U.S. virtually its only buyer, the captive Canadians are subject to price discounts of as much as $43 a barrel that cost Canada $20 billion a year.
And if you’re a fed-up Canadian, like Prime Minister Stephen Harper, there’s a bonus: Obama can’t do a single thing about it.
“The best way to get Keystone XL built is to make it irrelevant,” said Frank McKenna, who served three terms as premier of New Brunswick and was ambassador to the U.S. before becoming a banker.