U.S. Democratic Senator Joe Manchin wants to build a North American energy alliance with Canada and Alberta.
The former governor of West Virginia and chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources ended an April visit to the Alberta oil sands with a commitment to raise the profile of Canada’s resources in Washington, D.C.
“There shouldn’t be a barrier because we have a border. That border should be invisible when it comes to energy and the climate and the responsibilities we have as citizens on this Earth,” Manchin told reporters in Calgary.
“This horrific war in Ukraine is a wake-up call for the free world. … The free world should be relying on the United States and Canada to provide the products and the resources that they’re going to need, and to be able to help Mother Earth and climate.”
North American energy producers are uniquely committed to reducing emissions, he said.
“If you take the United States of America and you take Canada out of the fossil business, we’re the only ones that will spend the money that will make the effort to develop the new technologies that will clean up the climate, because the rest of the world will use the same products we’re using, just a lot dirtier,” he said.
“You take us out and Mother Earth is going to be in trouble and the climate will go to heck in a handbasket. I believe that with all my heart.”
Manchin has invited representatives from the Alberta government to present to the Senate energy committee about co-operation on continental energy security.
Many Americans may not know how important Canada already is to them in terms of energy resources or how much they are reliant on Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries-plus (OPEC+) nations, he said. Manchin said he didn’t realize the volume of oil products from Russia being purchased by U.S. refiners until the invasion of Ukraine.
More than 98 per cent of U.S. natural gas imports and more than 50 per cent of oil imports come from Canada, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. But refiners still buy a lot of crude from OPEC+ nations like Saudi Arabia and Russia – 1.6 million barrels per day in 2021 compared to 4.3 million barrels per day from Canada.
That includes about 670,000 barrels per day from Russia that’s now banned, leaving a hole for other suppliers to fill that’s contributing to soaring gasoline prices across the United States.
“We need this product. You all have a product that we have to have in order for us to meet the demand of our country, but your country too, and the world,” Manchin said.
He said that the Keystone XL pipeline that would have connected Alberta oil with refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast should never have been abandoned.
“Now we wish we had it; 800,000 barrels of oil coming a day down into our refineries to make the products that all of us use in both countries.”
Manchin advocates an “all of the above” approach to energy that includes oil, natural gas, coal, wind, solar, geothermal, nuclear and more. And it all can be produced responsibly in North America.
“North America could be the energy leaders of the world [with] the cleanest energy production in the world,” he said.
“We have to be stronger. We have to be committed and resilient enough to be able to say we’re going to produce the energy that the world needs.”
Deborah Jaremko is director of content for the Canadian Energy Centre, an Alberta government corporation funded in part by taxes paid by industry on carbon emissions.