With the Keystone XL pipeline at least temporarily blocked, the next target for those hoping to limit the climatic damage done by Canada’s oil sands should probably be the Northern Gateway pipeline. This pipeline is intended to run from Alberta to Kitimat, in British Columbia, and allow the export of synthetic crude from the oil sands to Asia.
Many people have argued that blocking Keystone XL would have no tangible effect, because all the oil that would have flowed through it to the US would just end up going to Asia instead. This analysis is dubious on its face – it is surely an expensive proposition to ship oil sands products across the Pacific, and cutting off any market is likely to reduce the total level of oil sands exploitation. The argument becomes even more untenable if pipelines for export to Asia can be blocked as well.
A big part of the effort to block the Northern Gateway pipeline is being made by First Nations communities with territory that would be crossed by the pipe.