The Alberta government is defending its decision to take out a $30,000 half-page ad in the New York Times Sunday newspaper this week—a bid to swing public opinion in favour of the Keystone XL pipeline.
“The ad is part of our ongoing efforts to speak directly with U.S. decision makers and the American public, to ensure the facts are clear about Alberta’s record of responsible oil sands development,” Premier Alison Redford said in a statement.
“We need to use every means possible to break bitumen barriers and get our resources to market at a much fairer price.”
Titled “Keystone XL: The Choice of Reason,” the ad lauds the economic benefits of the pipeline while stressing environmental protections the industry has in place, and reminds readers of the values that Canada and the U.S. share in the “world’s closest trading relationship.”
The ad also cites the U.S. State Department’s recent conclusion that the project would not have a significant impact on the environment, and blames critics of the pipeline for relying “on emotion rather than science and fact.”
The ad aims to counter a New York Times editorial that ran on March 10 urging U.S. President Barack Obama to reject the controversial pipeline, which is fiercely opposed by environmentalists on both sides of the border as well as U.S. landowners who could be affected by a spill.
The editorial criticized the project as short-sighted and environmentally risky, saying that if approved, XL would fuel the world’s appetite for fossil fuels instead of working toward sustainable alternatives.
“In itself, the Keystone pipeline will not push the world into a climate apocalypse. But it will continue to fuel our appetite for oil and add to the carbon load in the atmosphere. There is no need to accept it,” the editorial reads.
The Obama administration is expected to decide whether to approve the project—which would take oil from the Alberta oil sands through the U.S. Midwest to Texas refineries—in the coming months.
Meanwhile, Redford on Monday joined a chorus of Conservatives who have been lambasting NDP leader Thomas Mulcair for knocking the Keystone project—and Canada’s environmental record—on his trip to Washington and New York last week.
Mulcair has long criticized the Harper government’s environmental policies, and says if Keystone is approved it could export 40,000 jobs to the U.S. He has also advocated for a west-to-east pipeline that would see Alberta oil pumped to Eastern Canada instead.
“For Mr. Mulcair to travel to Washington and undermine the months of good work by premiers of every persuasion, along with the federal government, is not only wholly irresponsible, but a fundamental betrayal of Canada’s long-term economic interests,” Redford said in a speech at the Economic Club of Canada in Ottawa.
Speaking with reporters on Parliament Hill Monday, Mulcair stood by his position.
“We think we should take care of Canada’s own energy security first,” he said. “We think this is a win-win-win-win. We’ll see what the voters think about both visions come the next federal election.”
Alberta NDP leader Brian Mason has said he supports Mulcair’s comments during his U.S. visit, and in question period Tuesday called Keystone a “job killer.”
“Albertans need a government that stands up for their prosperity and their future, not a government that wants to sell their jobs down the pipeline,” said Mason.
Redford will return to Washington for the fourth time next month, to advocate for energy projects such as Keystone XL.