The fine folks over at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) are organizing their own Keystone XL pipeline protests. They are upset that President Obama has not approved the pipeline from Alberta to Texas that will benefit oil and pipeline companies. ALEC has identified the Keystone XL pipeline as "a critical project for America." To counter grassroots demonstrations against the pipeline, ALEC has written resolutions that have recently been passed in two states (Maine, South Dakota) and introduced in six more states (Iowa, Washington, Missouri, Mississippi, Minnesota, and Michigan).
The resolutions in each of the eight states have similar content and language, which promote importing oil from Canada and calls on the president to approve the project without further delay. Resolutions in Minnesota, Michigan, and Mississippi even contain identical text drawn from a TransCanada press release. Apparently ALEC neglected to mention the ongoing audit of TransCanada's pipeline safety being conducted by Canada's National Energy Board. A former TransCanada project engineer complained of substandard practices. This follows 14 leaks and a temporary shutdown in 2011 of TransCanada pipelines in the US.
These resolutions are discussed in some detail in articles in Truthout and Common Cause's Common Blog, although neither mention the passage of resolutions in Maine and South Dakota. (Note: the Common Blog post incorrectly identifies SR 103 as coming from Indiana rather than Iowa).
ALEC has been busy. Last month they introduced bills in three states (Colorado, Oklahoma, and Arizona) that require teaching that climate change is just a controversial theory in public schools.
I was puzzled by one element of ALEC's praise the pipeline bills. Each bill contained language lauding shale oil from the Bakken formation. Fortunately, Canada's chief negotiator (and member of Parliament), Rob Merrifield, cleared up the mystery.
On Keystone, Mr. Merrifield reminds U.S. legislators that the pipeline project would also help ship American oil from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota and Montana – petroleum that could comprise as much as 20 to 25 per cent of shipments. “Some don’t even realize that it will include their own oil.”Looks like ALEC was able to get all the latest talking points into their resolutions.
Merrifield also mentioned the importance of finding "companies that share Canada's interest" in selling the pipeline.
Mr. Merrifield said his assignment has taught him the value of finding private-sector allies in U.S. congressional districts, in order to make his case to members of the House of Representatives in Washington. Companies that share Canada’s interests can make the case more forefully, especially to congressmen and women who face re-election every two years.Time to move forward on climate and kill the Keystone XL.