Free Markets, Free People

Hillary Clinton’s latest position of political convenience – opposition to the Keystone pipeline

As one might imagine, her opposition comes as somewhat of a surprise:

Her comments made her the last major Democratic presidential candidate to come out against Keystone, a project that has dragged through more than seven years of wrangling and several environmental reviews that appeared to favor the pipeline — most of them produced by the State Department when Clinton was secretary. Obama remains the project’s biggest wildcard: He hasn’t said whether he will grant or deny a permit for the pipeline, or when he’ll decide, even as Republicans lambaste him for repeatedly postponing the issue.

As secretary, Clinton had galvanized a nationwide activist campaign against Keystone with her off-the-cuff remarks in 2010 that the department was “inclined” to approve the $8 billion-plus project. That was her last substantive public statement on the issue until Tuesday.

But then, when poll numbers are sinking and momentum is waning, what better than to flip-flop (when you favor the candidate, it’s called a “pivot”) and throw a bone to a particular core constituency to shore up that vote? Its a move any political opportunist would surely applaud.

Why the Keystone XL pipeline has remained such a political football remains a mystery.  All the past routing problems that first held up the pipeline have been satisfactorily resolved.   And, after all, there are 2.3 million miles of existing oil and natural gas pipelines in the US.  Why has this one remained in the news?

Simple answer?  Politics.  It’s about voting constituencies and keeping them happy.  It certainly isn’t about what is best for the US.

As The Hill points out, it has now officially taken longer for the federal government to review the Keystone XL pipeline’s permit application than it did to build the entire transcontinental railroad 150 years ago.

Amazing and typical.  As for the party that continues to tell us it is for jobs and economic growth, it blatantly turns its back on both with its opposition to the pipeline’s approval:

Consider the economic opportunity this $5.4 billion pipeline presents. The Canadian Economic Research Institute estimates it could add $172 billion in U.S. economic growth over 25 years. Meanwhile, President Obama’s own U.S. State Department estimates construction would support over 42,000 jobs. Nearly 10,000 would be skilled—aka, well-paying—jobs like steel welders, pipefitters, electricians, and heavy equipment operators.

There’s also the potential for gas prices to go even lower than they are today. According to a February 2015 report from IHS, a leading energy research firm, the “vast majority” of Keystone XL’s refined oil will stay right here in the U.S. In other words, it could further add to America’s surging oil supply that has sent gas prices plummeting over the past year.

And yes, as mentioned, that’s the US State Department estimate made while Hillary Clinton was SecState.

Environmentalists live with the fantasy that if the Keystone pipeline is blocked, the oil to be found in the oil sands of Canada and in North Dakota will simply have to be left in the ground.  Of course, that’s nonsense.  Instead is it is shipped by rail, a much less safe and less efficient means of transportation (but one that does amply reward a Democratic donor) than a state of the art pipeline :

This is especially so when you consider pipelines—particularly new, state-of-the-art ones like Keystone XL—are the safest mode of transportation. Ensuring we’re using the safest and most efficient methods possible only makes sense.

Indeed.  So, why is Hillary Clinton opposed to safe transportation of oil and gas, the jobs and income that would come from the construction of the pipeline and economic boost it would give our economy?

Perhaps someone will ask her that at the first Democratic debate.

Yeah, I know, I’m laughing too.


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31 Responses to Hillary Clinton’s latest position of political convenience – opposition to the Keystone pipeline

  • So, why is Hillary Clinton opposed to safe transportation of oil and gas, the jobs and income that would come from the construction of the pipeline and economic boost it would give our economy?

    Two words…Tom Steyer. Along with his merry band of oligarchs who amassed their billions, often by dealing in fossil fuels like Steyer himself.

    • Then there was this story from about 5 weeks ago …

      Billionaire investor George Soros has opened new equity stakes in Peabody Energy Corp. and Arch Coal Inc., the country’s top two coal producers, according to a Form 13F-HR filed Aug. 14.

      Soros acquired more than 1 million shares of Peabody and 553,200 shares of Arch in the second quarter, according to the filing. He reported no other coal holdings in the period.

      Soros makes investments through his Soros Fund Management LLC fund. Soros’ holdings may have changed significantly since the end of the second quarter ended June 30.

      Soros last invested in the coal sector in 2014 when he opened a large stake in coal and gas producer CONSOL Energy Inc., but he later liquidated it.

      Both Peabody and Arch have seen their market values plummet amid extremely difficult operating conditions for domestic producers caused by competition from cheap natural gas, new environmental regulations and a slowing export market.

      … and a big shout out to President Barack Obama .. without his “War on Coal”, George Soros could never have bought it so low.

      I’m sure that Hillary’s latest stand can be offset by a large donation to the Clinton Foundation.

  • It’s hard to judge Hillary’s motivations, because we’re not sure what kind of non-human construct she is.

    The linked article ends up concluding that she’s a Weyland robot, like Ash and Bishop in the Alien franchise. But I think those robots have ethical programming far beyond Hillary’s. She seems more like a Cylon to me – programmed to pretend to be human, but to have no inherent morality underneath and to actually be working for an entity totally hostile to humanity.

    I’m also wondering if the AI guiding the body is becoming rampant due to age, like the AIs in Halo. She seems increasingly unstable.

  • The next time Clinton takes a position for any reason other than its political benefit to herself will be the first time I’ve noticed her doing so.

    On the other hand, it’s fun to see roles reversed, with Clinton taking the pro-freedom, pro-property-rights, pro-American libertarian position on the issue and Republicans who used to pretend to know better whining “but OF COURSE it’s OK to steal people’s land and hand it over to corporate welfare queens because ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT.”

    • Yeah, because nobody EVAH took a utility easement in the history of ever.

      And, of course, nobody is “stealing” anything. What an amazingly stupid statement!

    • Perhaps you can show us where Hillary takes a pro-freedom, pro-property rights, libertarian position.

      • “Perhaps you can show us where Hillary takes a pro-freedom, pro-property rights, libertarian position.”

        Until and unless TransCanada decides to give up on stealing other people’s property to build Keystone XL, opposition to in being built is the (and the only) pro-freedom, pro-property rights, libertarian position.

        Clinton isn’t taking that position because she’s pro-freedom, pro-property rights or libertarian, of course. She’s taking it for other reasons. But someone who gets it right for the wrong reasons is still getting it right, just like someone who gets it wrong while mouthing false devotion to the right reasons is still getting it wrong.

  • Only question I have is why do we want to put our refinery eggs in one basket. Especially when that basket is located in Hurricane country.

    • Because destroying half our fossil fuel production is the easiest way to double the percentage of energy generated by “renewables”…

      • That’s does not seem like a reply to my question. Ultimately its why not refine in N. Dakota and disperse from there and at the same time not put the whole country at risk to a natural disaster at the same time. Is the dispersion method from the Gulf any different?

        I want more gas to be made. Is this really an interstate commerce conflict disguised as a national ecological issue?

        • The reason Keystone runs from Canada to refineries on the Gulf is that the purpose of Keystone is to convey Canadian oil to refineries from which it can be easily exported abroad. Keystone has nothing whatsoever to do with US oil production or use. It is entirely a transit instrument for Canadian oil to be sent to countries OTHER than the US. North Dakota does not have a coastline from which tankers can depart loaded full of petroleum, so refining the stuff there would just create additional transport hazards (e.g. train spills) that are 24/7/365, not occasional and periodic like hurricanes.

    • Part of the answer to that is that plant is not always built where you or I would put it, but where it “grow’d”.

      The Gulf became a locus of oil and gas production decades ago, and decades ago Texas and Louisiana were (and really still are) great, welcoming places to build refineries.

      Since that time, contra Barracula, America CAN’T do “big things”. We literally cannot build a new refinery of any scale in the U.S. We HAVE doubled the capacity of some of the existing refineries (I worked on one after my first year of law school, going back to operating heavy equipment).

      Contra Mr. Knapp (above) I think that a sizable fraction or tar sands oil goes to Midwestern refineries. IIRC

      • “Contra Mr. Knapp (above) I think that a sizable fraction or tar sands oil goes to Midwestern refineries. IIRC”

        Yes, it does — through already completed and operational phases of the Keystone pipeline complex. The pipeline we’re talking about HERE is the one that has not yet been approved and is not yet under construction, known as Keystone XL or Keystone Phase IV. It’s a larger, re-routed version of Phase I, being built for the purpose of being able to get more oil, more quickly, to the Phase III and Phase 3a Gulf Coast extensions.

        I was, however, in error about whether or not US oil is involved. It turns out that another purpose of the re-route is to let some domestic US oil production from Montana and North Dakota get into the Gulf Coast refinery/export mix.

        Just to be clear, the only problem I personally have with Keystone is the idea of the US government stealing land from people who aren’t interested in selling it and handing that land over to TransCanada. But that’s a hard line for me. I support property rights, regardless of whether it’s Republicans or Democrats claiming a legitimate power to violate them in the name of “economic development.”

        • I was not aware of the land grab.
          Could you suggest further reading?

          • OR you apply logic, asking yourself where all the millions of miles of existing pipelines got their easements, and the FACT that easements are BOUGHT, not “stolen”.

          • If I offer to buy your car for $500 and you say no, and I leave $500 on your porch and take the car anyway, did you sell me the car?

            No, you didn’t.

            Taking someone’s property without that person’s permission is stealing it. Doesn’t matter if you throw some money at them. Unless they agreed to the transaction, you are a thief, plain and simple.

            The government has traditionally only stolen people’s property in this manner for “public use.” I don’t agree that that’s proper, but yes, that’s how it’s been done. But Republicans and “conservatives” USED to be against stealing people’s property for handover to other private entities in the name of “economic development.” They were against it when the city of New London, Connecticut did it for a company that wanted to build a hotel and convention center. Now all of a sudden with Keystone, they’re mouthing the same “it will bring jobs, so stealing it is OK” horseshit as the “progressives” used to.

          • A land man comes to your house and offers you fair market value for the use of a strip of land, which, after the very rapid work of the pipe-layers is over, you’ll essentially have full surface use of.

            Being the old crank you seem to be, though you USE utilities brought to you in just such ways, you protest they’re “stealing your land”. WHICH, when the life-cycle of the utility is over, you’ll very likely have returned to you, reclaimed (I’ve done the work) with a quit-claim to your easement.

            This is EXACTLY what imminent domain is designed for. It’s what it’s been used for for about a century-and-a-half.

            Your oblique reference to Kelo is just loopy. But, hey…

          • Nice try, I guess, but even if the process you describe wasn’t morally unjustifiable, Keystone XL is not a “utility.” The property is not being taken for “public use,” it is being taken for “private profit.” I happen to oppose both, but we don’t even have to go there because what’s going on is no different from me having your city government steal your house because I want to build a McDonald’s on it but can’t get you to sell it to me for a price I’m willing to pay.

          • Yeah, it IS a utility, and you can’t rationally believe that pipeline or power transmission easements are owned publicly.

            They are not.

            Property rights…like all rights…are not absolute. If you house was afire, firemen would treat it very roughly, indeed, if they thought it necessary to do their jobs. I strongly recommend you never get in their way, protesting your absolute notion of “morality” or “property rights”.

            Maybe you can post a link to that fantastical time when conservatives would not allow pipeline or power-line construction.

          • I never claimed there was any fantastical time when conservatives ACTUALLY supported property rights.

            I just pointed out that in recent years they’ve made a big deal of PRETENDING to support property rights, as they occasionally do in between times when their campaign donors have their eyes on some farms they’d like to steal.

  • Hillaryous that just mere days ago she was going to have a decision momentarily on the pipeline because you know, we just can’t wait. She was gonna tell Barack to hop to it!
    Now, maybe it’s me, but”can’t wait”ing implies that we’re now about to embark on doing the ever promised something by actually taking an action.
    Last time I checked NOT building the pipeline is NOT doing something.
    Only Hillary could try and make a virtue out of not doing things that we’re already not doing.
    Hardly a critical decision to go forward with sitting on our asses.

    Now if we had to decide so Warren Buffet’s train schedulers could get on with their jobs, or some railroad execs could plan to buy flashy and ridiculously expensive MAN armored RVs for Christmas presents then yes, I guess deciding NOW might be important.

    Any bets on her still trying to ‘do something’ about global warming?

  • How to ask Clinton about Keystone XL: With climate change being the biggest threat to man kind, what other measures beyond blocking the poisonous Keystone XL pipeline will you take?

  • Let’s see: buy oil cheap from the only ally Obummer hasn’t completely alienated yet, transported safely the least amount miles, then burned as efficiently as anyone on the planet … Orrrrrr
    Ship it halfway around the globe on boats to be burned as inefficiently as anybody on the planet, making us more dependent on foreign sources.
    Clinton is so much less than a self-serving political hack, she is a bird-brain. Little wonder why the left adores her so.

  • “I think it is imperative that we look at the Keystone pipeline as what I believe it is — a distraction from important work we have to do on climate change,” Clinton said. “And unfortunately from my perspective, one that interferes with our ability to move forward with all the other issues. Therefore I oppose it.”

    After the pipeline stops being a distraction that interferes, sometime after the primaries and before the general election, I suspect it will stop being a distraction that interferes and she can therefore support it.