Posted: December 2, 2011
Keystone protester angst
Tired of the highs and lows of the stock market ride on the Euro-debt roller coaster? We are. So, let’s take a brief, calming break to contemplate the reassuring and happy wonders of Alaska Airlines Flight 2542 based at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
The flight leaves Seattle weekday mornings by 9:45 am. It arrives in Edmonton, Alberta by 1 p.m. Return flights will convey travelers home to Seattle in time for a late dinner. In between they’ll have a half work day to tend to business involving Alberta’s amazing and highly controversial oil sands.
The oil sands are hot these days because of the Keystone pipeline project. Keystone would bring millions of barrels of oil south from Alberta, across the mid-west, to oil refineries around the Gulf Coast. At least the Keystone pipeline might do that if it wins approval from President Obama, who considered the options and opted to delay his decision on the pipeline until after the 2013 presidential election.
The President’s delay is probably understandable given the enormous angst aroused among some by the oil sands. It takes a lot of energy to get the oil out of the earth and some claim the oil sands are so odious they will drive us past a point of no-return when it comes to climate change.
The reality is, they can’t. The oil sands are a potent symbol but by and of themselves, they aren’t large enough to tip the scales when it comes to global carbon emissions and their carbon footprint pales in comparison with those created by things like global coal combustion.
But, even though this oil resource might not be a very large drop in the world’s bucket, the metaphorical drops loom large when it comes to our bucket. Which brings us back to the short flying times on either end of Flight 2542 or the other Edmonton flights originating at Sea-Tac.
No major industrial production center in the United States or Canada is closer to the oil sands than ours’ is and as Alberta’s oil sands production grew over the past decade, so did the volume of consumer goods exported to Canada from Washington. In fact, the increases were almost in lock step. From 2000 through 2010, oil sands production in Alberta grew by 139%. During the same period, Washington exports to Canada grew by 143%, climbing from $2.8 billion to $6.9 billion.
To put that amount into context, only China imports more Washington products than Canada does and the value of Canada to mom-and-pop exporters becomes more obvious when airplanes are eliminated from the mix. With airplanes, China’s tops the $10 billion mark for our exports. Exclude airplanes and Washington’s export numbers change to $6.3 billion for China and $5.8 for Canada.
Our exports to Canada include everything from rebuilt diesel engines to gaskets to steel rebar to gourmet crackers to skilled workers. In fact, if you go here you’ll see we’re shipping the Canadians just about everything except shortbread, whiskey or Cadbury chocolates, and what could be better than the US getting as much oil as possible from a country where both Christmas and Hanukah are legal?
But what if the President kills the pipeline? Won’t matter. If the U.S. doesn’t want the output from the oil sands others will and Washington products will continue to contribute to oil sands production.
We admit it. The oil sands aren’t pretty. But they will be a reliable source of income to our state for decades to come.
It reminds us of a Homer Simpson thought bubble about donuts. Oil sands. Mmmmm.
City Business Casual
You are cordially invited to mingle and celebrate the end of the year with Seattle City Business Casual. Tuesday, December 6th, 5:00-7:00 PM at the Polar Bar, in the Art ic Club Hotel, 700 3rd Ave, Seattle. No RSVP/Informal Seating, appetizers will be served. Special guests: Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, Councilmember Tim Burgess, Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, Deputy Mayor Darryl Smith, Dept of Parks and Rec Acting Superintendent Christopher Williams, Port of Seattle Commissioner Gael Tarleton, Downtown Seattle Association President & CEO Kate Joncas and enterpriseSeattle President & CEO Jeff Marcel.
The first three of six new ZPMC container cranes arrived yesterday evening on the Zhen Hua, delivered to SSA at Port of Seattle Terminal 18. These Super Post Panamax cranes will allow port facilities to handle the largest container ships in the world. The next three cranes are expected here in the middle of 2012.
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