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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

November 14, 2011 at 9:40 AM

The pipeline, Canada and the energy future

The United States’ decision to delay the Keystone Pipeline, which would have brought Canadian oil to U.S. refineries, is making us few friends in the north. The Globe and Mail reported on how Canada’s energy industry is now in an urgent hunt to get its product to Asia. And Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the delay shows why Canada needs to diversity its trade beyond the U.S.

President Obama and Harper met privately during the weekend’s APEC summit in Hawaii:

Strains in the Canada-U.S. relationship and efforts to mend fences were at the top of the agenda as Mr. Harper and Mr. Obama met. They talked about a pending Canada-U.S. trade and security pact as well as the consequences of the State Department’s decision to put off until 2013 approval of the $7-billion Keystone KL pipeline that would carry oil sands crude to refineries in Texas.

Mr. Harper played down that and other setbacks, saying politics is temporarily clouding what’s best for the two economies. “This is simply the political season in the United States, and decisions are being made for domestic political reasons,” he told reporters.

Well, yes and no. Alberta’s oil comes from tar sands, which bring large environmental consequences along the way to producing a heavy, expensive-to-refine crude. The pipeline route would have risked spills into sensitive habitats along the route, as well as the critical Ogallala aquifer, which is already facing over-use. Opposition came from the conservative state of Nebraska.

And while some, even much, of this oil would have gone to America — at a high price because of refining costs — most was headed for refineries on the Gulf Coast. There, it would be available to the world market and the highest bidder.

Friday’s poll on real estate was all over the place. Nearly 34 percent said they were happy with the home they had; another 21 percent each are either ready to buy now that affordability is at a 17-year low or waiting for prices to go lower.

And Don’t Miss: Does government regulation really kill jobs? Economists say overall effect is minimal || Washington Post

Today’s Econ Haiku:

Emirates order

A big vote of confidence

For the Puget Sound

Comments | More in Canadian economy, Energy, Environment

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