As you can see in the charts below Canadian imports of oil continue to grow while overall U.S. oil imports (and consumption) have fallen. According to the U.S Energy Information Administration total U.S. consumption of petroleum products has fallen 11% since 2007 to 6.748 billion barrels a year. Imports of petroleum products fell by almost 21% over the same period with the difference made up by domestic oil production. In addition, between 20012 and 2013 petroleum imports fell by an additional 7.5%. Overall, as a nation, we are using less petroleum products and producing more of what we use.
Oil sands production and development will slow or accelerate depending on oil price trends, regulations, and technological developments. The Canadian oil sands have been known for decades, but until oil prices rose and technology improved these oil deposits were too expensive to exploit beyond the limited scope of surface mining. Advances in technology in both oil sand extraction and refining techniques and rising oil prices altered the economics and have made the extraction of oil sand possible. While the advances in extraction techniques have quadrupled recoverable oil reserves and moved Canada into second place in proved world oil reserves, it requires more energy to produce the oil and increases the carbon footprint of the crude as compared to fracked light sweet crude from Texas or Montana. I believe that opponents to the pipeline projects object primarily on concerns for increasing greenhouse gases in the environment. Opponents contend that extracting Canada’s heavy crude oil releases between 10-17% more greenhouse gases than conventionally extracted oil. I have not reviewed the studies that are the basis of that claim so I hold no opinion.