Any realistic discussion of energy policy involves integrating and prioritizing numerous perspectives, and these perspectives do not often lead in the same direction. For example, geopolitical and economic circumstances suggest imperatives that are not in step with what the greenest thinkers of our age would like to see. But if we are to navigate the energy challenge successfully, we must consider all perspectives.
Recently, we have seen a couple of articles that explain the requirement to develop Canada’s oil sands within the context of America’s need for energy that comes from a friendly and trustworthy supplier.
For example, petroleum geologist James Anderson points out, not only that oil is the bridge to alternative energy sources, but also that the United States will face competition from China when it comes to interest in importing Canada’s oil sands. He writes: “If China replaces the United States as an importer of Canadian oil sands, you can be sure that America’s dependence on oil from the Middle East and other problem-plagued regions of the world will grow. Now is the time to get our priorities right.”
Similarly, Economics and Public Policy professor Gary Wolfram argues that Canada’s oil sands are “essential to U.S. Energy Security”, reminding his readers that Canada is the number 1 source of oil imported to the U.S. In his thinking, “as the U.S. market for this oil increases, the incentive for entrepreneurs to create new and better carbon-mitigation technologies will result in a vast, clean and reliable oil supply for American consumers.”
This is hard realism, and not everyone will agree, but we think energy security is a critical component of any energy policy decision. Like Wolfram, we’d suggest it is in our interest to look for solutions that address environmental, economic and security challenges simultaneously.