This is something that the president can’t ignore. Whether or not that litigation is successful is almost not the point. The point is that it sends a strong signal that there are Democrats in the House of Representatives and in the U.S. Senate and in states throughout the U.S. that rely upon energy that comes from Canada that it is affordable, reliable, and that is responsibly produced.
CEC: How is the relationship impacted by the cancellation of the permits for Keystone XL?
Mar: I think it’s really important to note that we still have 3.7 million barrels of oil a day that does cross the border. It’ll be up to producers to figure out the ways that they can get it to their customers, because there is demand for it. I do think that it’s important that we stand up for the importance of this type of energy.
In the state of Michigan there is an issue with respect to Line 5. That’s not only important for the U.S. Midwest, but it’s also important for Canada. Roughly half of the crude oil used in Ontario comes through Line 5 [and] about two thirds of the crude oil used in the province of Quebec, so this is an important issue for us that we shouldn’t lose sight of.
It’s one thing to stop a pipeline that prevents new supply from coming into your country. It’s quite another thing to cut off your existing supply.
CEC: Is Canadian oil and gas still an important industry?
Mar: The answer is yes. The word transition has different meanings to different people. Some people believe it means that we will cease using oil and gas by the end of this decade. I find that to be an incredibly naive and not well-founded belief.
You cannot get to Paris targets or net zero by 2050 without having the involvement of the oil and gas industry, by every credible analysis.
Take, for example, the International Energy Agency, [which says] oil and gas will continue to be a dominant source of energy in the world, for a couple of reasons.
One is that the world’s population will grow from its current 7 billion people to perhaps 10 billion people by the end of the century. Number two is the growth of the middle class, particularly in places like Africa and India, that will be demanding energy.
It took a century for us to build the infrastructure necessary to have fossil fuels as an important part of our quality of life. It won’t take a century to transition to other types of energy infrastructure, but it’s still going to take a long time.
CEC: Do you see any opportunities for the oil and gas trade relationship between Canada and the U.S.?
Mar: I think the opportunity is in creating a continental energy and environment strategy. I think it’s important for Canada to harmonize some of what it does with the United States.
You cannot develop any kind of economy without access to affordable, reliable energy, and you cannot develop any kind of energy, including renewables, without having some impact on the environment. You’ve got to find that sweet spot where you’re balancing all three. And this is the opportunity for Canada and the United States to work together.