By Dana Gabriel
Much has been made about the secretive nature and lack of transparency surrounding efforts by the U.S. and Canada to create a North American security perimeter. With several high-level meetings in the last month, not to mention all the behind the scenes negotiations, it is expected that an action plan will be unveiled at some point in September. From a U.S. perspective, it is security which is driving the agenda, while on the Canadian side, facilitating trade and easing the flow of goods across the border is the focal point. Any deal reached will build off of past initiatives and be used to advance economic, energy and security integration between the two countries.
During a bilateral meeting in early August, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird discussed issues pertaining to the Middle East and the Western Hemisphere. Also high on the agenda was U.S.- Canada relations. This included the declaration, Beyond the Border: Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness issued by U.S. President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper back in February of this year. At a news conference following her meeting with Minister Baird, Secretary Clinton stressed that, “it’s critical that we ensure our border remains a safe, vibrant connector of people, trade, and energy. And today, the minister and I discussed other ways to expand trade and investment; for example, by reducing unnecessary regulations.” It is interesting that Clinton brought up energy as this is also an intrical part of North American integration which is being further advanced through the U.S.-Canada Clean Energy Dialogue, as well as other initiatives.
Another issue that came up during Clinton and Baird’s meeting was the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. If approved, it would carry oil sands crude from the province of Alberta and pass through the U.S. states of Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas to delivery points in Oklahoma and Texas, at the Gulf of Mexico. While addressing a question at a joint news conference about delays on coming to a decision on the pipeline, Secretary Clinton said, “We are leaving no stone unturned in this process and we expect to make a decision on the permit before the end of this year.” Several months back, the Environmental Protection Agency expressed concerns about environmental impacts associated with the project, as well as the level of analysis and information being provided. With the State Department’s recent release of its Final Environmental Impact Statement, the Keystone XL pipeline has moved one step closer to a final decision. The review period will now go, “beyond environmental impact, taking into account economic, energy security, (and) foreign policy.” While there continues to be vocal opposition to the project, it is being touted as important for future U.S. energy security.
In May of this year, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power held a series of hearings which among other things, examined legislation concerning the North American-Made Energy Security Act. The bill called on, “the President to expedite the consideration and approval of the construction and operation of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.” With regards to oil consumption, it acknowledged that, “While a significant portion of imports are derived from allies such as Canada and Mexico, the United States remains vulnerable to substantial supply disruptions created by geopolitical tumult in major producing nations.” It goes on to say. “The development and delivery of oil and gas from Canada to the United States is in the national interest of the United States.” The bill also stated, “Continued development of North American energy resources, including Canadian oil, increases domestic refiners’ access to stable and reliable sources of crude and improves certainty of fuel supply for the Department of Defense.” In other words, more Canadian oil is needed to fuel the U.S. war machine. This all ties in with the perimeter security deal and further removing trade barriers. It is part of U.S. efforts to secure more access and control of Canadian resources.
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