As Obama Said Keystone XL ‘Not In The National Interest,’ US Saw Record-High Canadian Oil Imports

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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Government data released more than five months after President Barack Obama said importing more Canadian oil would “not serve the national interests of the United States” shows that America got more oil from Canada in 2015 than ever before.

Newly-released Energy Information Administration (EIA) data shows “Canada provided 4 out of every 10 barrels of oil imported into the United States in 2015,” meaning America’s northern neighbor made up 43 percent of oil imports that year.

Interestingly enough, record-high Canadian oil imports happened as the Obama administration officially rejected the Keystone XL pipeline project ostensibly because it was not in America’s national interest to import more crude oil from the Canucks.

In November, Obama said “the State Department has decided that the Keystone XL Pipeline would not serve the national interest of the United States.”

“I agree with that decision,” Obama said. “Shipping dirtier crude oil into our country would not increase America’s energy security.  What has increased America’s energy security is our strategy over the past several years to reduce our reliance on dirty fossil fuels from unstable parts of the world.”

Obama’s ultimate reason for rejecting the pipeline project after more than seven years of review by federal officials was because Keystone XL “would have undercut that global leadership” on global warming policies.

Now, the Obama administration’s own data shows “Canada, America’s largest crude oil supplier since 2004, sent a record-high 3.2 million [barrels per day] of gross crude oil exports to the United States in 2015, up 10% from the year before, accounting for a record 43% of total U.S. crude oil imports.”

Canada has traditionally been America’s largest foreign supplier of oil, followed by Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Mexico. Canada’s close cultural and economic ties with America also means the two countries energy infrastructure is highly integrated, and energy experts often argue getting more energy from Canada rather than OPEC countries greatly enhances U.S. energy security.

“Canada generally produces heavy, sour crude oil that is well-matched to processing capacity in the United States, where many refineries have the equipment needed to process such oil,” according to EIA. “Canada is expected to continue to provide a large share of U.S. oil imports for the foreseeable future, especially given the expansion of pipeline and rail shipping capacities to transport Canadian oil.”

But even as Obama rejected Keystone XL in 2015, EIA data showed the U.S. was getting 45 percent of its imported oil from Canada.

“As of August, Canada provided 45 percent of all crude oil imports to the United States, almost three times as much as all Persian Gulf countries combined,” according to an EIA analysis from November.

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