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Will Alberta conservatives blame Rachel Notley, Liberals for Line 3 pipeline delays?

Pipeline workers on Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline. Image: Enbridge Line 3/Facebook

Will Alberta's conservatives find a way to blame Premier Rachel Notley and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the delays in the construction of Enbridge Inc.'s Line 3 Expansion announced on March 2?

Why not? Given the credulity demonstrated by Alberta's mainstream media when it comes to such stories, such an effort should get plenty of ink, or at least its virtual equivalent.

After all, conservatives have happily labelled a failure the Alberta NDP's strategy of placating Canadian pipeline opposition with a combination of environmental measures designed to lower the province's carbon footprint and a public influence campaign. And they widely circulate claims Liberals in Ottawa have actually used the Canadian regulatory process to stall the Trans Mountain Pipeline and kill Calgary-based Enbridge's Northern Gateway project.

Never mind that the evidence doesn't support either of these conspiracy theories, they are both widely believed in Alberta.

Line 3's ambitious building schedule, after all, seems to have run afoul of the time it takes to get construction permits issued in the state of Minnesota. So presumably conservatives on this side of the 49th Parallel would have argued this is another failure of "social licence" -- as opposed, one supposes, to a success of "the rule of law" -- even if newly elected Minnesota Governor Tim Walz had not been a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, as that state's Democrats are quaintly known. (I didn't make that up!)

What's more, according to the Canadian Press account of the recent Enbridge developments, Walz, a former U.S. senator, has asked his state's Commerce Department to petition its Public Utility Commission to reconsider its approval of Line 3. His predecessor, two-term DFL governor Mark Dayton, tried the same thing, although without much success.

At the very least, Alberta conservatives can blame "foreign funded" environmentalists for this -- even if they happen to be elected officials in, you know, a foreign country.

What's more, Eugene McCarthy, the poet and prominent opponent of the Vietnam War, served Minnesota in the U.S. Senate from 1959 to 1971. Surely there's a way for Trump-loving Alberta conservatives to blame Notley for that as well, and to add it to the reasons for their overwrought demands for Prime Minister Trudeau's resignation. Liberals, ya know!

Nevertheless, one can be skeptical of the claims by Bloomberg News that a one-year delay in the Line 3 expansion is "a crushing setback for Canadian oil producers" while still recognizing the company's announcement is a real political problem for the Canadian federal government and especially the Alberta NDP.

As an aside, fossil fuel extractors are not producers in the way farmers are producers of beef or barley, or even agricultural products like cheese that have undergone a chemical change, the make-believe language of the business pages notwithstanding.

Meanwhile, the proud cheese producers of the state of Wisconsin on the other side of the clear waters of the St. Croix River had already approved their state's section of Line 3 during the governorship of the notoriously anti-liberal Republican Scott Walker.

But now there's a Democratic governor in that state too -- which I'd bet if you asked Alberta conservatives is just one more thing to blame on their Canadian opponents.

No sooner was Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers sworn in on January 7 than he was talking up a "liberal wish list" that includes funding Planned Parenthood and legalizing medical marijuana! So before you know it, Wisconsinites will probably be finishing their sentences with "eh?" -- just as they already do in Minnesota, we are reliably informed.

It's not yet clear whom Alberta Conservatives will blame for lower prices for crude from Canadian bitumen once post-coup Venezuela starts shipping tanker loads of cheap South American crude across the Gulf of Mexico to the refineries of the Gulf Coast, but you can bet on it that it won't be themselves.

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca

Image: Enbridge Line 3/Facebook

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