by Andrew Leach on Sunday, August 25, 2013 9:46am - 7 Comments
During his visit to the Irving Refinery on August 8th, Prime Minister Stephen Harper stated that the Energy East pipeline was not just about moving Alberta’s energy to markets, but that the government would, make sure “that Canadians themselves benefit from these projects and from that gain in energy security.” That got me to thinking about energy security, what it means, and how we might benefit (or lose) from what it implies. In what follows, I argue that there are some potential benefits, but also some false-economies and pitfalls in terms of delivering energy security with Energy East.
When it comes to energy security, Michael Levi* at the Council on Foreign Relations is one of the world’s leading experts. In his May 2009 paper “The Canadian Oil Sands: Energy Security vs. Climate Change” (long one of my favorite sources), Levi identifies a list of six security and economic consequences of oil consumption and production and then examines how increased oil sands production and exports to the U.S. would mitigate or exacerbate these impacts. I thought it would be a useful exercise to use a modified version of Levi’s checklist to think about Energy East and its impact on Canadian energy security, so here we go:
1. Oil revenues empower exporting states whose interests often conflict with our national interests.
The trade impacts of Energy East depend on what you view as the alternative scenario, but let’s take the most likely – barrels shipped on Energy East would otherwise be shipped south or east by pipe or rail, and these barrels displace barrels which would otherwise be imported from a similar set of countries as we import from today. At the same time, this would imply an increase in imports into the U.S. from countries other than Canada to replace the foregone barrels. The countries from which we imported the largest volumes into Ontario, Qu