While Neil Young was reminding Harper and Co. that they had obligations to Canada's native peoples, John Baird was in Washington, trying to extract a promise from Barack Obama and John Kerry that the United States would build the Keystone XL pipeline.
But Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry were unmoved. They know that American opinion is turning against Keystone. And they know the real reason Baird was in Washington. Jane Kleeb, the founder of Bold Nebraska -- a network of American activists -- understands what's going on:
"Canada and TransCanada made a really bad investment in tar sands, and the only way they can make their investment back is to get their product to the export market," Kleeb said. "Canada started producing tar sands in small amounts in the 1980s then began ramping up production in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Their investors want to see a profit."
Elizabeth Bader writes that Americans know that all the talk about jobs is hogwash:
By Jack Gerard's [the president of the American Petroleum Institute] count, 20,000 will be created immediately, with another 117,000 added by 2035. At other points API has claimed a larger number: 300,000. Why the change? It's anybody's guess, and Gerard did not elaborate. Later, when asked about pollution, his answer was surprisingly brief: "The risks to the environment are minimal," he said.
And, if job creation is a priority, the United States faces an infrastructure crisis. The authors of a report titled The Keystone Pipeline Debate claim that:
"America is facing an infrastructure crisis. Unmet water and gas infrastructure capital investment and operations and maintenance needs exceed more than $32 billion along the proposed Keystone XL corridor. The failure to repair and maintain this vital infrastructure causes gas leaks and explosions, sewage overflows, water main ruptures and the loss and contamination of drinking water. The damage caused by leaking gas pipelines has cost these states more than $450 million in damage since 1984."They estimate that in the states the pipeline would cross:
177,000 [jobs will be needed] to replace the failing water mains that carry drinking water and 106,000 [will be needed] to repair wastewater pipes to get the eroding system back on track. They then project the need for another 15,000 permanent maintenance workers to do ongoing upkeep. "Every dollar spent on gas, water and sewer infrastructure in these states generates 156 percent more employment than the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline," the report concludes.
In short, the Americans have figured out that Keystone XL is a Canadian snow job. And they will not be snowed -- the way Canadians have been.