In the TED Book Keystone XL: Down the Line, Washington Post reporter Steven Mufson and photographer Michael Williamson travel the entire length of the proposed project and reveal starting realities about its impact on everything from the environment to town economies to people’s lives, in the areas through which it passes.Go to the link for the rest of the interview.
As debate over the Keystone XL boils over, it felt like the right time to ask Mufson a few questions. Below, his take on this highly controversial proposed project.
Why are Canada and the United States now in a rush to expand oil exporting?
Canada is already a major oil exporter — in fact, they’re the biggest source of U.S. crude oil imports. Companies producing oil in the tar sands in northern Alberta are looking to double production there — and they need more ways to move that oil out.
Currently, the limited options for transporting oil only pile onto the costs of production. The biggest and most natural market is the United States, both because our economy is big and because U.S. refineries on the Gulf of Mexico have been modernized and upgraded to handle low-quality crude oil like that coming out of Alberta.
Once the crude oil is refined, it’s easier to sell in the United States or abroad. The United States both exports and imports refined products, though given the size of the U.S. refinery industry and relatively flat U.S. gasoline consumption, the volume of U.S. exports of gasoline and diesel has increased.
These were my thoughts:
That was actually quite a nice interview. I read it quickly so I may have missed a few points, but I did not consider the author particularly biased. If anything, he seemed to be ambivalent -- maybe caught up in anti-Keystone bias, but after traveling the length of it (and noting all the pipeline that already crosses the US) he felt it might not be that big a deal.
I think "we" are simply at that point in the US that 80% of the population has no informed opinion on the project (as long as they can afford gasoline they are happy regardless where it comes from and how it gets there). 10% are adamantly opposed -- some sincere, some fringe -- and the other 10% are only reacting to the 10% that are opposed.