We Built this Country on Exxon Money

When I was watching the Canadian federal leader’s debate last night, I was concerned that the Keystone XL Pipeline has been used as a panacea for all things climate change. But should it be that way?

There are of course many issues with building a pipeline. One must absolutely take into account the rights of indigenous people. They must convince a lukewarm public that it’s the right thing to do. But even more than that is gaining an understanding of why a pipeline is required in the first place. Effectively, candidates have expressed why the pipeline is not needed, but not expressed why it is needed.

So let’s take a step back.

The oil that comes out of places like Texas is Light Sweet Crude. It is easier to refine because it contains less than .5% sulfur. The oil that comes out of the Alberta oil sands is Heavy Sour Crude, or greater than .5% sulfur. The sulfur content makes HSC less expensive and more difficult to refine.

Currently, there is no refinery in Canada to process HSC. Therefore, it has to be transported and sold to the United States, China, and South Korea. It has to be transported via Train, Truck, and in some cases ship for refinement. And the alternative way is through a pipeline.

What we do know is that out of these transportation methods, the pipeline is the most ecologically friendly and least prone to accidents (if HSC can be ecologically friendly). Since our HSC needs refinement, the pipeline is the only solution.

The point however, at least to me, isn’t whether a pipeline should be built or not because that’s not addressing what is the real issue is. The real issue is that since Canada left the gold standard in the 20th century, the basis for Canadian currency has been fossil fuels.

This happened because Oligarchs and Plutocrats have made a great deal of money on the backs of the Canadian oil industry. From where you are sitting, take a look around. Our cars, planes, machinery that is building our roads, which were built with asphalt, and the chair you’re sitting on, the computer you’re using to read this, all of it was built on Oil.

What can we do?

We have to take a hard look at our economy and that means immediate action to remove our dependence on oil and gas. But it’s not as easy as just pulling the plug. It requires a paradigm shift in the way that we live. Pulling the plug will put millions of Canadians into poverty and it’s not their fault that we’ve built this Country with Exxon Money.

Beware, those who offer simple solutions to complex problems, because there are only extremely difficult solutions to extremely complex problems.

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