Three U.S. congressmen toured the installations at the Athabasca Oil Sands on October 18 and came out gushing about the project.
Congressmen Bob Latta (R-Ohio), John Shimkus (R-Illinois) and Joe Wilson (R-South Carolina) were shown around some of the oil sands installations at Fort McMurray by Alberta’s minister of International, Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Relations Cal Dallas, whose government footed the bill.
At issue is the environmental damage that many say is being wrought by extracting the oil from the sands of the Athabasca River delta.
“They’re just wrong,” Shimkus said of environmentalists and others who oppose the pipeline, quoted in the Edmonton Journal. “Energy security and jobs trump this environmental assault right now in the United States.”
The three also met with the president of the Fort Chipewyan Metis Nation, Fred Fraser, the Edmonton Journal said. Shimkus told reporters that although they seemed concerned about the speed of development, they felt the oil sands’ job creation and economic development was beneficial. No First Nations communities were mentioned in accounts of the visit.
Shimkus, Latta and Wilson toured some facilities of Shell and Nexen, and a reclamation project being conducted by Syncrude.
The representatives supported the Keystone XL pipeline even before their visit and “came away impressed with the oil sands and convinced of its critical role in their country’s energy future,” QMI reported. The $7 billion pipeline would bring oil from northern Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico. Questions have arisen as to whether the oil will actually be used to increase U.S. energy security, or whether it will be sold on the international market, as the Missoulian pointed out recently.
Their visit came the same day that actor Robert Redford called the pipeline a massive environmental threat and ran a video in The New York Times urging President Obama to vote against the plan.