The real Keystone issue: Property rights – by Terence Corcoran (National Post – November 12, 2011)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper. Terence Corcoran is the editor and columnist for the Financial Post section of the National Post.

The power to expropriate property to make way for pipelines is weakening

There are a lot of donkeys on whom to pin the blame for the U.S. State Department’s decision to kick TransCanada’s $7-billion Keystone XL pipeline into another political time zone, all of them valid.

One could start, possibly, by fingering the million-dollar public relations team that decided to nickname a sensitive oil-carrying and carbon-emissions facilitating project “XL”, as in extra large—implying bigger, wider and therefore more menacing than your average pipeline.

The Wall Street Journal, in an editorial titled “The Keystone Cop-Out,” also nailed the White House and President Barack Obama as culprits. Here’s a president who wants job creation, favours “shovel ready projects” and less U.S. dependence on oil sources controlled by dangerous foreign potentates. But when it came down to making a single decision that would deliver all three objectives, he failed to act. “The Keystone cop-out couldn’t be a clearer expression that this Administration puts its anti-carbon obsessions — and Big Green campaign donors — above job creation and blue-collar construction workers. He’s President of the 1%.”

Canada’s oil industry, including TransCanada Pipelines, also deserves some blame for have obviously botched the public-relations and political aspects of ushering XL through the various national and local jungles of the U.S. power system. It’s hard to be too critical here, since it was up against the formidable forces of the Green movement and the carbon obsessed, not to mention a U.S. election season.

On the other hand, corporations such as TransCanada and the other giants that make up Canada’s oil and gas industry have been all to willing to play both sides of the spectrum. They seem to like the idea being players in Canada’s little fantasy of being a “global energy superpower” while at the same time paying lip-service to the need for green energy and carbon controls, as if they were united with the Green movement in concern about the environment, carbon emissions and global warming.

Having it both ways is going to become a much more difficult trick for corporations to pull off as time goes on. Green demonstrators and activists have potent political tools at their disposal, especially during election periods. They can march and demonstrate, creating havoc and mobilizing public opinion.

For the rest of this article, please go to the National Post/Fincancial Post website: