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This article is part of our series Counter-Counter-Counter-Point. To see the another point of view, check out Michael Luba’s take.

Taking action...tar sands action

A cyclist tries to escape the ravenous hordes protesting the Keystone expansion


There’s been plenty of talk over the Keystone XL Pipeline, a system intended to transport crude oil from Canada directly to the United States. Plenty of talk, but no action.

Why has the pipeline stagnated? Prime Minister Stephen Harper is ready to go, but Barack Obama, the President of the United States, has been stalling for quite some time.  It seems as though the Harper government’s patience has now finally run thin since they’re pushing for a decision from the White House.  I’m going to give you a suggestion to solve this problem, but first, I’ll give you a quick run-down of what other people are saying.


The benefits of the Keystone Pipeline to the U.S. are, as per their website, the following:

  • It creates jobs and helps stimulate the economy.
  • The taxes received from TransCanada help counties pay for infrastructure.
  • It supports manufacturing in the U.S.
  • It enhances energy security.
  • It supports energy independence.

When one looks at those benefits, they’re probably thinking, “Wow, these are great benefits for the American economy, what are we waiting for?” Naturally, there are some drawbacks that explain the U.S. government’s hesitation.


These drawbacks, taken from Forbes magazine, include:

  • Dents and holes within the already-built sections of the pipeline suggest possible oil spills.
  • It has already spilled more oil in its first year of operation than any other pipeline has.
  • It’s not a make-or-break situation for the U.S., but it is for Canada.
  • The refined oil is supposedly intended for non-U.S. markets.  This means that the United States is “[carrying] the greatest share of the risk while getting the smallest share of the benefits.”
  • Because of China’s investment in the oil sands, the pipeline would most likely increase the price of gas in the United States, rather than making it cheaper.


These quibbles put the President of the United States in a tough spot. But fear not, Mr. Obama! I have a solution for your woes.


Instead of building a pipeline, build an assembly line.

That’s right. A giant assembly line! Not only is it consistent with all of the benefits, it also solves all of the problems!

This proposed idea works similarly to one of those claw machines you pass by when you’re walking out of Denny’s, desperately searching your pockets for any sort of change that feels like a toonie. The claw machine picks up the oil drum, scoops up some oil and places it on a conveyor belt. The first worker’s job is to place the lid on the container, thereby preventing spills.

After that, the oil takes a long, slow journey down the conveyor belt. Each worker it passes performs special tests.  For example, one worker removes the lid, the next worker takes a sample of the oil, and the following worker snaps the lid back on. Maximum efficiency.

I’m sure an assembly line, armed with workers on either side, following it all the way down from Northern Alberta to Texas, would probably create more jobs than the building and maintenance of the pipeline would.

If the pipeline would enhance energy security, there’s no doubt workers placed all along the conveyor belt would improve it even more.   After all, there would always be a set of eyes on the black gold.

Moreover, it would solve the problem of having shoddy pipes, since the pipes would cease to exist.

If the U.S. still felt as though they weren’t receiving enough of the benefits, their workers could simply steal a barrel or two. Nobody would notice anyways. The same suggestion would solve the problem of increased gas prices, as long as the workers could refine the crude oil themselves.

You’re welcome, United States and Canada. I solved all of your problems with one simple suggestion. You can’t sit there and tell me it isn’t plausible. I’m already not listening.