Dan Moutal comments:
Frankly this is very over-optimistic. As you noted the Canadian government is working hard to re-write legislation to ensure that opponents to the pipeline don't get in the way.
I would be very surprised if the pipeline is not built before the next election in 2015.
It might be over-optimistic to predict that no new pipeline will ever be built for the tar sands, but I didn't say that. Rather, note is taken of the fact that, contrary to the anguished protests of pro-Keystone folks like Nocera, an alternative route is not automatic, and will only come about by means of further political battles as yet unfought.
Those battles are yet to be won or lost, but without the defeat of Keystone XL, the oil interests would not have had to fight them at all. This is in stark contrast to the arguments of Nocera and others that refusing to approve Keystone XL would cost us jobs and otherwise not affect the development of the tar sands whatsoever.
The benefits of the bare-knuckled fight over Keystone XL are many:
* The pipeline itself is not being built, and hopefully will not be built.
* It is uncertain whether an alternative pipeline will be built. That uncertainty discourages further investment in and development of Canadian dirty oil today, even if an alternative route is built eventually.
* The pipeline has been delayed, which hits oil company profits, provides more time for alternative sources of energy to fall in price, provides more time for an international carbon regime to be put in place, and more time for the government of Canada to change course, as democratic governments are wont to do.
* Alternative pipeline routes are sure to involve further bruising political fights -- hence Harper's attempt to target the charities opposing the pipeline. Even if the oil interests win those fights, they still have to expend time, money and political capital to fight them, and no interest, no matter how powerful, has an infinite supply of those.
It's important that we recognize what was accomplished by the people who demonstrated, who called their representatives, who donated money or spoke out or went to jail, even though it is, of course, a matter of only one possible route of one possible source of dirty-fuel disaster.
Of late I've been re-reading Shelby Foote's epic history of the Civil War; I highly recommend it. One of the things that strikes me, in reading it again, is that the most important and effective commanders were not always the smartest; Grant, for example, was neither a masterful tactician nor a great strategist, he was often caught unprepared, and he was beaten in the field repeatedly. What successful commanders, North and South, Army or Navy, possessed is aptly described by Foote as "[A] hard-driving, bulldog, cut-and-slash aggressiveness, a preference for action at close quarters, and a burning sense of personal insult at the slightest advantage gained by an opponent at [their] expense."
That is the quality that sent Keystone XL down to defeat and left the tar sands developers and the Harper administration with another pipeline fight in the offing, this one in their own backyard. At if their is a similar spirit of action by opponents up there, they may very well lose again. We can only ever fight today's battle, and the reward for winning it -- now and for the foreseeable future -- is tomorrow's battle.
|Say not the Struggle Naught availeth|
|SAY not the struggle naught availeth,|
|The labour and the wounds are vain,|
|The enemy faints not, nor faileth,|
|And as things have been they remain.|
|If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars;||5|
|It may be, in yon smoke conceal'd,|
|Your comrades chase e'en now the fliers,|
|And, but for you, possess the field.|
|For while the tired waves, vainly breaking,|
|Seem here no painful inch to gain,||10|
|Far back, through creeks and inlets making,|
|Comes silent, flooding in, the main.|
|And not by eastern windows only,|
|When daylight comes, comes in the light;|
|In front the sun climbs slow, how slowly!||15|
|But westward, look, the land is bright!|