Oil Opponents Cheer Industry Stall

Not enough people freeze during winter:

Opponents of Canada’s oil industry are celebrating this week over news they see as vindication of a pipeline-fighting strategy that began in the United States with Keystone XL.

Their burst of enthusiasm was prompted by news that Shell was shuttering an 80,000-barrel-a-day project — and specifically citing the lack of pipeline infrastructure as part of the reason.

That announcement prompted a congratulatory message from a political activist who began organizing Nebraska ranchers opposed to Keystone XL five years ago.

Jane Kleeb emailed ranchers Wednesday to say their work against the Alberta-to-Texas project was having a ripple effect across the continent, with the expansion of the Alberta oilsands now in doubt.

“Turns out fighting Keystone XL with all the might of small and large groups in U.S.A. and in Canada is working,” Kleeb wrote.

“Not only to stop Keystone XL but to stop the tarsands expansion.”

Kleeb helped organize the first of several major fights against export pipelines from the land-locked oilsands, with that so-far-successful stalling effort against Keystone XL now being replicated in protest efforts against different pipelines in Canada.

But advocates for new oil infrastructure have been able to parry their logic in recent years. They’ve pointed to the ongoing surge in Canadian production, the increased exports, and the dramatic rise in oil-by-rail which actually pollutes far more than pipelines as proof the pipeline-fighting was counter-productive.

The timing of this week’s announcement, however, made Greg Muttitt appear like a fortune-teller.

Shell’s cancellation notice came just hours after Muttitt released a 40-page report that predicted the growth of Alberta’s oilsands would be stalled — and the cause would be a lack of pipelines.

His report for the anti-oilsands group Oil Change International had offered a three-part conclusion: pipelines are almost full; rail is too expensive to justify new projects; and oilsands expansion is about to stall.

This is good news, according to his group.

(Sidebar: his group is funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Tides Foundation.)