Comparative Pipeline Politics: Oil Sands Pipeline Controversies in Canada and the United States
31 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2012 Last revised: 12 Sep 2012
Date Written: 2012
Over the past decade, energy policy has become increasingly controversial in Canada and the United States, with Canada’s oil sands emerging as a major flashpoint of controversy. This paper will compare energy-environment policy and governance in Canada and the United States through a case study of two controversial oil sands pipelines: Keystone XL to the US Gulf Coast, and Northern Gateway to British Columbia’s West Coast. The cross-jurisdictional comparisons will provide enhanced leverage of institutions as a potential explanatory variable. Of particular interest are the procedural requirements for the review process and their relation to the larger legal and political structures of each country. The analysis yields some surprises. Courts, which are generally thought to play a more important role in the US, are shown to be a powerful force in the Canadian case. Subnational governments, generally thought to play a more important role in Canada’s more decentralized federation, are shown to be a more influential force in the US case. Timing turns out to also be very important, but not in the way typically conceptualized in the comparative literature.
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