The anti-ethical oil lobby makes a lot of noise, crashing speeches and political hearings, holding loud protests, and parading naïve Hollywood do-gooders before the media. They know that the noisier they are, and the more space they take up, the more it seems as though they might possibly represent more than the fringe that they actually do. Think of ruckus we hear every week from the anti-oil sands lobby and yet, public opinion surveys show that the majority of Canadians understand that the benefits of the oil sands outweigh the minimal, and manageable, costs.
The same must be true in the United States. At least senior Republican Senator Lindsey Graham figures as much. Interviewed Thursday on CTV’s Power Play, Sen. Graham, called for the Obama administration to get on with approving the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that will deliver nearly a million barrels of new ethical oil daily to U.S. markets. And he’s sure that most any American who understands the proposal would feel the same way.
“I think I have most of the American people behind me and I’ll take that any day,” he said. “If you ask the average American ‘would you like to buy more oil from Canada or more oil from Venezuela and Iran?’ I know what they would say.”
And despite public opposition from camera-friendly American celebrities, the evidence suggests he’s right: While most Americans aren’t even aware that Canada is their largest oil supplier (and even fewer have ever heard of the oil sands), the majority of Americans polled earlier this year want Canada to dramatically increase its exports to the U.S. market: they want even more of our oil, not less.
Why? It’s not hard to figure out. Listen to Graham and you get a very good sense of what average Americans who know about the Keystone XL proposal think about it. Here are some of Sen. Graham’s points:
• “Fossil fuels will be with us for decades to come and the slightly higher carbon content of oil sands product—with a lower sulfur content, I might add—is not justification to deny a deal between the two countries to get the oil sands product into the United States.”
• “The product we would be losing from our Canadian friends would have to be replaced by other countries…When I buy a product from Canada it’s like buying it from my cousin.”
• “I think the Canadian people [and] the companies in question take the environmental and logistical concerns real [seriously].”
• “Every source of energy has problems.”
You could call that the American perspective. Or you could just call it the sensible, realistic and practical perspective. In this case, it’s the same thing.
That’s why Senator Graham is pretty sure the pipeline is going to get approved. If it isn’t, he says, “it would be a huge deal in the 2012 campaign,” and set off a “backlash in this country that you would not believe,” given the thousands of jobs the Keystone XL pipeline would create in the U.S., and the fact that it would make Americans more dependent on OPEC oil. Unlike conflict oil, he tells his Canadian audience, “when we give you our money you don’t give it to terrorists.”