The Political Economy of Oil Transportation and the Implications for Canada
In Canada, there are currently multiple oil pipeline projects being proposed, engaged in the regulatory process, or recently approved with conditions. While debates have focused on the environmental effects or environmental injustices of these projects, there is a lack of analysis on the overall political economy of oil transportation infrastructure and how interests and power relationships shape these debates. The importance of understanding the political economy of oil transportation is that pipeline projects have various implications for the future of Canada in terms of sustainability, Canada's energy path, and environmental consequences to be felt by future generations. To address the shortage of analysis, this paper provides a modified institutional-ideological framework applied to a case study of the Energy East Pipeline project to explore the current political economy of oil transportation in Canada. The framework comprises of four categories: material, physical, and economic factors; normative factors; institutional factors; and interests and societal factors. The analysis provides two tentative conclusions suggesting the future implications for Canada if the country continues down its current resource-based development path. The first is to call for a national energy policy involving a democratic opportunity to debate the available energy development options, and the second is to draw attention to the opportunities for resistance of the current direction of natural resource development in Canada. A choice is to be made regarding which path Canada will choose, with pipeline decisions being an important aspect of this choice.