We could eliminate tankers | Letter

The Friends of the San Juans have launched a publicity campaign to stop the pipeline that is to carry oil from Alberta to Vancouver where tankers will be loaded. It will be almost impossible to stop increased tanker traffic through Haro Strait. The tar sands oil from Alberta is an important Canadian economic asset and they need to be able to deliver to buyers. Initially, the Alberta oil was to be delivered to customers through the Keystone XL pipeline, which was to run down through Montana, North Dakota and Nebraska.

Permit for the pipeline was rejected by the U.S. State Department and President Obama ostensibly on environmental grounds. As an alternate, the Kinder Morgan company has planned to enlarge their inter-mountain pipeline to Vancouver. Prime Minister Trudeau has approved the line.

Tankers loaded with Alberta oil will be going outbound through Boundary Pass and Haro Strait and tankers loaded with Alaskan oil are coming inbound through Rosario Strait and Peapod Rocks to Anacortes or Cherry Point.

But, there is a solution that could reduce or even eliminate tanker traffic in one or both straits.

If our incoming president and his secretary of state would approve Keystone XL the Canadians would not need an enlarged trans mountain pipeline. The existing pipeline could be rerouted to supply refineries at Anacortes or Cherry Point. This would reduce or eliminate outbound tanker traffic through Haro Strait and reduce inbound traffic from Valdez to Anacortes and Cherry Point. Alaskan oil from Valdez could be sold overseas.

That would require some serious and complicated negotiations at the business level, the state department level and very possibly some helpful legislation. But it just happens that the one man who could put this complicated deal together is Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobile who is the incoming secretary of state.

There is some additional information on the oil situation on my blog “Tideflats.com.”

We should be urging the Friends to focus on this possibility and supporting them with additional donations.

Pat Roe

Lopez Island