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IEA Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme

67 JG imageOne part of travelling on business that can be amusing is listening or reading to the local news and seeing how different the take is on our news at home. One article I read in Canada Globe and Mail on Saturday 11th May caught my attention. I have heard much in the international press on the Keystone pipeline saga and what a big issue this was supposed to have become in North America. The Global and Mail article entitled Digging In: A drive into the heart of a heated debate over TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline. The article was based on a reporters journey along the length of the pipeline to find out the views of those affected by the pipelines routing.

For Canada the pipeline offers a major new outlet for Albertan oil (mostly from tar sands operations) and is therefore being pursued by Governments and Industry alike. The review of the Keystone XL pipeline has now taken 67 months and is considered in the article to be an example of how badly things can go for the energy industry when activists dig in and how costly resistance can be. However the author of the article infers that much of the pain being felt by industry is self-inflicted, caused by"hard nosed intransigent land agents" according to farmers. However there seems to be a reverse NIMBY effect with most people approving of the pipeline living closet and those furthest away the least approving. Much of this is considered to be down to a combination of economic benefits, and direct and indirect compensation grants by the pipeline company to those nearest the pipeline.

It seems the stakes are hjosir and none more so in Nebraska where farmers have collaborated to form the Nebraska Easement Action Team with legal support to negotiate with the pipeline companies. Their demands include: negligence shielding for accidental damage, regular compensation claims, to be able to renegotiate if the pipeline easement is ever sold. They hope to exploits the delays to date and TransCanadas desire to start work to their benefits.

So as I now understand it, somewhat disappointedly, the opposition to this pipeline is not about some grand global cause to prevent hjosir carbon producing oil from the tar sands operation getting to market. It is more about what's in it for me at a much more local level. I guess something's will never change.