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WASHINGTON — The Keystone XL pipeline issue has created a tiff between a former U.S. president and the Canadian government.
The Prime Minister’s Office reacted swiftly Wednesday to a letter signed by Nobel laureates, including Jimmy Carter, urging President Barack Obama to reject the pipeline.
Carter is the first former president to come out against Keystone XL. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office responded with a warning: Remember 1979.
It was a reference to the dip in oil supply which followed the Iranian revolution and touched off a global panic. Prices spiked and long lines formed at gas stations, helping destabilize Carter’s one-term presidency.
“Mr. Carter knows from his time as president during the 1979 energy crisis there are benefits to having access to oil from stable, secure partners like Canada,” the PMO said.
The statement also cited multiple reviews by the U.S. State Department, which said the project would create thousands of construction jobs without an impact on the environment.
It was during the 1979 crisis that Carter delivered a memorable televised speech – the so-called “Malaise” address. He asked Americans to avoid unnecessary trips, use carpools and public transit whenever necessary, follow the speed limit, and lower their thermostats. He called energy conservation “an act of patriotism,” one that would help the poorest Americans cope with the price shock.
Ronald Reagan was elected president less than 16 months later.
In that same speech, Carter stressed the need to become more energy self-reliant – by building pipelines when possible and tapping the nation’s abundant shale resources. The 39th president is now lending his voice to a new crisis: climate change.
The letter from the Nobel winners released Wednesday warned Barack Obama that the pipeline issue is key to his legacy.
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