Keystone XL pipeline
You likely recall the controversy concerning the President’s denial of approval for the Keystone XL pipeline a few months back. Citing the route through the state of Nebraska as a problem, Obama decided to defer a final decision until after the election.
Up for grabs – a lot of oil and 20,000 jobs. Most saw approval as a no-brainer and the route through NE as easily “fixable”. But Obama was having none of it, choosing to please his base vs. opting for jobs for Americans. Since the disapproval, Canada, where the pipeline originates, has announced plans to sell that oil to China.
Well, there’s a new route through NE and local leaders have voiced strong support for the pipeline:
TransCanada has proposed a new route for the pipeline that avoids the Nebraska Sandhills, and the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality is seeking comment before it drafts its report on the new route. Port-To-Plains Alliance, which is made up of more than 100 local elected officials and community leaders, has today offered its “strong support” for the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Their reasoning seems pretty strong — if you’re interested in putting Americans back to work and helping the economy:
Keystone XL will provide significant economic benefits for our region. The pipeline is expected to create approximately 20,000 manufacturing and construction jobs in the United States. It could also generate more than $5.2 billion in tax revenue to the Keystone XL corridor states. At a time when state and local governments across the country are struggling to balance their budgets, these employment and revenue benefits are critical to our region. Specific benefits for Nebraska include:
- More than $465 million in new spending for the Nebraska economy
- More than 7,500 person years of employment
- Increased personal income by $314 million
- Additional state and local tax revenues of more than $11 million
- $390 million in increased Gross State Product
And that’s just Nebraska. Other states stand to gain significant revenue as well.
Then there’s the issue of the Bakken Formation oil in Montana and North Dakota. It too needs the pipeline to be finished so it can efficiently ship oil from there to the coastal refineries.
Again, the major problem has apparently been solved. It’s a move that would lessen our dependence on Venezuelan and Middle East oil (instead opting for supplies from a loyal and stable ally), would make the shipment of Bakken oil less costly, benefit state and Federal revenue (at a time when both entities are hurting for it) and, most importantly, create multi-thousands of jobs.
So, what excuse do you believe Obama will use to further delay or disapprove it this time?
Jeffery Folks at American Thinker begins his article with:
Imagine a president who gets behind drilling, welcomes the cutting-edge technology of companies such as ExxonMobil, and offers generous 15-year tax breaks to ensure that new drilling projects move forward. That’s the kind of energy policy America needs in order to achieve energy-independence.
I’d love to imagine that. In fact and unfortunately, we have a president who does exactly the opposite.
If you want someone like Folks is wishing for, you’ll have to go to Russia:
Unfortunately, it’s not Barack Obama who’s behind those positive energy policies; it’s Vladimir Putin.
As Russian president-elect, Putin has made it clear that he intends to open his country’s arctic and Black Sea regions to drilling. The potential is so great, and the necessary investment so immense, that even Russia’s giant state-run oil companies, Rosneft and Gazprom, lack the resources and technology to proceed. So, with Putin’s blessing, Rosneft and Gazprom have entered into joint-production agreements with Exxon, Italian major Eni, and other Western companies. The stakes are huge — not just for these companies, but for the Russian economy.
The arctic and Black Sea fields being jointly developed by Rosneft and Eni contain an estimated 36 billion barrels of oil equivalents. Those under development by Rosneft and Exxon, which may ultimately require an investment of as much as $500 billion, contain estimated reserves of 36 billion barrels in the arctic Kara Sea fields alone. (Total recoverable arctic reserves have been estimated at 134 billion barrels of oil equivalent but will likely go higher as exploration proceeds.) In addition to the arctic and Black Sea fields covered in the Exxon and Eni agreements, president-elect Putin has expressed an interest in the possibility of joint ventures to develop vast Siberian tight shale formations.
The US has an incredible amount of natural resources including huge reserves of oil and natural gas. We’re already the number 3 oil producer in the world. And guess who actually leads the world with recoverable fossil fuel reserves? Yes, that would be the US. Imagine an energy policy that made extraction of that fuel a priority? With aggressive exploration and drilling (as well as approval of the Keystone XL pipeline) we could have a 92% secure liquid fuel sources by 2030. Not to mention, in a time of high unemployment, a jobs bonanza.
But what do we get?
Not that, that’s for sure. We instead get a president who talks about an “all-of-the-above” energy policy while his actions belie his claims. He’s turned lose a executive agency (EPA) on the fossil fuel industry that has already been slapped down numerous times by the judiciary for over-reach. Drilling and permits on federal land have gone down dramatically.
In an oil market that has seen supplies tightening and prices going up, his administration has done everything to keep it that way.
And voters aren’t happy with his performance at all.
If this is going “Forward”, I’d hate to see backward.
Can’t pass a budget in three years, is pretty sure the biggest reason to keep the financially insolvent USPS open is senior citizens like getting junk mail and wants the government paying your tax dollars to keep cowboy poetry alive, Harry Reid is a poster boy for the arguments against seniority as a means of picking leaders.
But when it comes to screwing over the best interests of the United State, well, you can definitely count on Harry to be on the side of those doing the screwing.
Senate Democrats will hold firm and reject House Republican demands to include approval of the Keystone oil pipeline in transportation funding legislation, their leader said Tuesday.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he would not in any way help Republicans move Keystone approval across the finish line.
“Personally, I’m not — I’m not one of the conferees — but personally I think Keystone is a program that we’re not going, that I am not going to help in any way I can,” Reid told reporters. “The president feels that way. I do, too.”
I’m sure the president does indeed feel the way Reid does.
Which should tell you all you need to know about where the President’s priorities are as well.
In Nebraska, where environmental groups had protested the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline because it would pass through the “environmentally sensitive” Sand Hills, they are now protesting a proposed solution as well.
The legislation is designed to restart a state review of a pipeline route that avoids Nebraska’s ecologically sensitive Sand Hills region.
Gov. Dave Heineman has indicated that he would sign the bill. He supports getting the Keystone XL pipeline built as quickly as possible.
But, say the environmental groups, this is just not acceptable:
Such eagerness was one of the concerns expressed by the groups. Under LB 1161, the governor would make the final decision on whether to approve a crude-oil pipeline route through the state.
Jane Kleeb of Bold Nebraska said that would be a clear conflict of interest because an agency under the governor — the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality — would oversee an environmental review of the new route.
Using Kleeb’s logic, Obama had no right to refuse it in the first place because the agencies that conducted the review process for the pipeline at a national level worked for him.
Regardless, the environmentalists intend to try to tie the law up in court:
Kleeb and others said they would prefer the pipeline regulation bill that was passed during last November’s special session, which would put the Nebraska Public Service Commission — an independent agency with elected commissioners — in charge of reviewing the Keystone XL.
Ken Winston of the Sierra Club said he expects a lawsuit to be filed challenging LB 1161′s constitutionality.
Of course Nebraska, as those who’ve followed this story know, is criss-crossed with multiple oil pipelines, none of which have caused the catastrophic environmental problems the environmental groups claim will come with the approval of this pipeline.
The obvious point, of course, is this has never been about “environmentally sensitive” areas. It has been about stopping this pipeline because it will be carrying crude that comes from an area environmentalists have decided produces “dirty” fuel and that we should be denied its benefit. For whatever reason they seem to think if they stop this pipeline, the oil sands in Canada they will come from will simply cease to produce. Of course that’s poppycock. Canada has already said it has plenty of other customers for its oil, to include China.
So this is the latest in the battle to deny this country a safe and secure fuel source for groundless practical reasons, but instead based in ideology which refuses reality for some asinine utopian fantasy world. They would deny this country the benefit of 800,000 barrels of oil a day because they have decided we shouldn’t have it.
Yet my guess is they’d also claim to be big proponents of “democracy”. The only problem, as poll after poll demonstrates, “democracy” firmly backs the construction of the pipeline by huge majorities.
So to hell with it. It’s off to Plan B as outline by Saul Alinsky – use their own rules against them.
Or, in other words, instead of letting the democratic process work and accept the results, tie it up in court.
One of the supposed areas in which President Obama has done well is in the area of foreign relations. And, of course, the press has dutifully helped create the myth of success.
But have foreign relations really been a success for him?
Don’t forget, this is the man who thinks he was responsible for “Arab Spring”. In both Egypt and Libya, radical islamists have begun to take charge. And this morning, a rocket launched from Egypt hit Israel.
Of course relations with our staunchest ally in the region – Israel – are terrible.
Then there is Russia. They way they’ve treated the US Ambassador to Russia is indicative of their belief that Obama is weak:
The Kremlin sees the Obama administration as weak and indecisive, making it a perfect, nonthreatening partner that can be bullied and provoked using the same tools Moscow routinely employs against opposition leaders and civil and human rights activists at home. This was the approach that the Kremlin used against the Estonian ambassador to protest the relocation of a monument to Soviet soldiers from downtown Tallinn. By Moscow’s reasoning, if such tactics are permissible when dealing with "weak" Estonia, why not use the same methods against a "weak" United States? Why should Putin and his cohorts show respect for the U.S. ambassador? On the contrary, it is better to put him in his place.
And they have used a “Kremlin-sponsored media campaign aimed at discrediting, pressuring, provoking and defaming him.”
Of course in the anarchy of world politics, weakness is something to be exploited, and Russia sees the opportunity to do exactly that.
You’d think, in the midst of all this failure, he could at least maintain good relationships with his allies. But Israel would beg to differ. And, surprisingly, so would Canada and Mexico. But you won’t read about it in the US press.
Obama’s neglect of our nearest neighbors and biggest trade partners has created deteriorating relations, a sign of a president who’s out of touch with reality. Problems are emerging that aren’t being reported.
Fortunately, the Canadian and Mexican press told the real story. Canada’s National Post quoted former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson as saying the North American Free Trade Agreement and the three-nation alliance it has fostered since 1994 have been so neglected they’re "on life support."
Energy has become a searing rift between the U.S. and Canada and threatens to leave the U.S. without its top energy supplier.
The Winnipeg Free Press reported that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper warned Obama the U.S. will have to pay market prices for its Canadian oil after Obama’s de facto veto of the Keystone XL pipeline. Canada is preparing to sell its oil to China.
Until now, NAFTA had shielded the U.S. from having to pay global prices for Canadian oil. That’s about to change.
I talked about that yesterday when I noted the ultimate cost of Obama’s fit of pique that led to him disapproving the Keystone XL pipeline.
And Mexico? Is it as bad as Canada?
Things were even worse, if you read the Mexican press accounts of the meeting.
Excelsior of Mexico City reported that President Felipe Calderon bitterly brought up Operation Fast and Furious, a U.S. government operation that permitted Mexican drug cartels to smuggle thousands of weapons into drug-war-torn Mexico. This blunder has wrought mayhem on Mexico and cost thousands of lives.
The mainstream U.S. press has kept those questions out of the official press conferences, while Obama has feigned ignorance to the Mexicans and hasn’t even apologized.
As usual, we’re poorly served by our media which somehow seems to have managed to miss all the points the Canadian and Mexican press have noted.
Yes, this president has a record he has to run on finally and it seems his foreign relations record isn’t, in reality, much better than his domestic one.
Of course it will be up to the GOP to point that out since obviously, the US press isn’t going too.
Bottom line for the Obama record?
Not that President Obama will much care.
As you know, if you’ve followed the news, a few months back, President Obama stopped the building of a critical oil pipeline from Canada’s oil sands in a fit of pique at the GOP for demanding a decision sooner rather than later. His excuse was it hadn’t been studied enough even though his own State Department had unofficially announced they were satisfied with Trans Canada’s application and environmental studies and prepared to okay the project.
A huge outcry ensued and as he usually does, Obama tried to blame his decision on someone else. The result of his decision, of course, was to further delay the transport of up to 800,000 barrels a day of crude oil from Alberta’s oil sands to our Gulf Coast refineries. He essentially turned down an increase in safe and secure oil that is strategic to our economic growth and national security.
But it has had even more profound effect for the long term. Most people are pretty sure that the pipeline will eventually be built. However the sweet deal it offered us prior to the President’s turn down is no longer available. It is because the refusal pointed out that Canada couldn’t depend on the US to be a reliable trading partner:
In a public one-on-one interview here with Jane Harman, head of the Wilson Centre think-tank, [Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen] Harper said Obama’s rejection of the controversial pipeline — even temporarily — stressed Canada’s need to find other buyers for oilsands crude.
And that wouldn’t change even if the president’s mind did.
“Look, the very fact that a ‘no’ could even be said underscores to our country that we must diversify our energy export markets,” Harper told Harman in front of a live audience of businesspeople, scholars, diplomats, and journalists.
“We cannot be, as a country, in a situation where our one and, in many cases, only energy partner could say no to our energy products. We just cannot be in that position.”
Of course there’s no particular problem finding new customers. China, naturally, was waiting in the wings for us to shoot ourselves in the foot and when we obliged them, they stepped right in.
That, of course, has another effect:
Harper also told Harman that Canada has been selling its oil to the United States at a discounted price.
So not only will America be able to buy less Canadian oil even if Keystone is eventually approved, the U.S. will also have to pay more for it because the market for oilsands crude will be more competitive.
That’s right, we get less and it will cost more.
We have taken a significant price hit by virtue of the fact that we are a captive supplier and that just does not make sense in terms of the broader interests of the Canadian economy," Harper said. "We’re still going to be a major supplier of the United States. It will be a long time, if ever, before the United States isn’t our number one export market, but for us the United States cannot be our only export market.
"That is not in our interest, either commercially or in terms of pricing."
Congratulations Mr. President, with your childish fit of pique you’ve managed to again do something that will help achieve your goal of seeing energy prices “skyrocket”.
And the people you profess to be looking out for, the poor and middle class, are those who will pay the most for your tantrum.
And from none other than Mr. Etch-A-Sketch:
“Apparently, the slipping poll numbers have convinced him [Obama] to announce the lower half of that pipeline,” Romney said. “If we can get his poll numbers just a little lower, we may be able to get the other side, too. So let’s get that job done.”
A reminder, one more time with feeling – the portion that Obama is now for doesn’t need his permission or approval to be built.
Just to be clear.
This is a blatant and obvious political attempt to pretend he’s behind something that was going happen anyway. But, of course, we knew that, didn’t we?
How do you know when a president’s energy message is falling flat?
When you see him trying to involve himself in something that doesn’t need him or his permission to proceed.
President Barack Obama plans to announce in Cushing, Oklahoma, on Thursday that his administration will expedite the permit for the southern half of the Keystone XL pipeline, a source familiar with the president’s announcement told CNN.
In January, the Obama administration denied a permit for the 1,700-mile-long Keystone XL oil pipeline, which would stretch from Canada’s tar sands development to the U.S. Gulf Coast. That decision was met by persistent Republican criticism that the president has not been doing everything possible to create jobs and combat high gas prices.
Late last month, TransCanada, the company behind the Keystone XL Pipeline, announced it would move forward with the process to build the southern half of the pipeline, which would begin in Cushing – the president’s third stop on his two-day energy tour. The White House praised the move.
Senior administration officials would not confirm the president’s plan to unveil the effort to cut red tape for the project, though one senior administration official acknowledged the need to deal with the glut of oil in Cushing, where oil from the Midwest hits a bottleneck as it is transported to the Gulf of Mexico.
This is much like his attempt to take credit for increased oil production when he had no hand in that increase, and, in fact, saw production increase despite his administration’s efforts to slow it on Federal lands.
This part of the Keystone pipeline is approved and ready to go. It has been. The company was merely waiting on the final go ahead for the portion that crosses the border from Canada. And while the portion being built from Cushing will be helpful, still missing is the portion that could be delivering up to 800,000 barrels a day from the oil sands of Canada. This, as usual, is a diversion.
Oh, and does anyone understand what “red-tape” the administration is talking about cutting? Why all the red tape this administration has strung all over the process since it has taken power, of course.
An amazing performance. Net gain – not much if anything in terms of total oil produced. The oil will get to market somewhat faster and certainly in a more environmentally safe way, but it still does nothing to increase the supply of safe oil that would actually lessen our dependence on oil from unfriendly countries.
Robert Samuelson, writing in the Washington Post, correctly dissects the Obama decision to reject the Keystone Pipeline into its two proper constituent parts: politics and the net practical effect:
President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico is an act of national insanity. It isn’t often that a president makes a decision that has no redeeming virtues and — beyond the symbolism — won’t even advance the goals of the groups that demanded it. All it tells us is that Obama is so obsessed with his reelection that, through some sort of political calculus, he believes that placating his environmental supporters will improve his chances.
Aside from the political and public relations victory, environmentalists won’t get much. Stopping the pipeline won’t halt the development of tar sands, to which the Canadian government is committed; therefore, there will be little effect on global-warming emissions. Indeed, Obama’s decision might add to them. If Canada builds a pipeline from Alberta to the Pacific for export to Asia, moving all that oil across the ocean by tanker will create extra emissions. There will also be the risk of added spills.
The unions are in his pocket, or so this decision would seem to say. Not in his pocket and not particularly happy with him at the moment are the members of the radical environmentalist movement. He apparently thinks they’re important to his re-election. This was a political move designed to shore up that constituency with the implied promise of permanent rejection of the project after he’s re-elected. That’s the message to them (whether it is true or not, they’ll still vote for him now because they know a Republican will okay it). He most likely figures the unions will suck it up and support him and, my guess now, he’ll find a bone he can throw their way sometime between now and November.
That leaves the practical effect of his rejection to the overall environmentalist goal of “reducing greenhouse gas emissions”. The effect? It will likely mean even more emissions than running the pipeline through the US. As Samuelson points out the tar sands will be developed and exploited, the product will be transported through a pipeline and most likely that pipeline will now run to the west coast of Canada instead of our Gulf refineries. But unlike the trip by pipeline to the coast, there will then be an added step of transporting it by sea to China.
Great win there enviro-types.
But there’s even more damage done by this decision.
Now consider how Obama’s decision hurts the United States. For starters, it insults and antagonizes a strong ally; getting future Canadian cooperation on other issues will be harder. Next, it threatens a large source of relatively secure oil that, combined with new discoveries in the United States, could reduce (though not eliminate) our dependence on insecure foreign oil.
It’s not “relatively secure”, it is very secure. Canada is and has been our largest supplier of “foreign” oil for years. And they’re both a friend and a neighbor. How more secure – other than having the tar sands within our borders – can a supply get? What we have an opportunity to do here is displace the commensurate amount of foreign oil from unfriendly and insecure sources by the amount the tar sands would yield.
Sound like good policy? Sound like a smart move? Of course it does. So why the rejection of such a seemingly common sense decision. See reason one above: politics. This is all about election year politics. The president who claims to have the best interest of all Americans at heart has just demonstrated that that claim is nonsense. He’s catered to a particular election year constituency in deference to what is obviously best for the nation.
…Obama’s decision forgoes all the project’s jobs. There’s some dispute over the magnitude. Project sponsor TransCanada claims 20,000, split between construction (13,000) and manufacturing (7,000) of everything from pumps to control equipment. Apparently, this refers to “job years,” meaning one job for one year. If so, the actual number of jobs would be about half that spread over two years. Whatever the figure, it’s in the thousands and thus important in a country hungering for work. And Keystone XL is precisely the sort of infrastructure project that Obama claims to favor.
What has supposedly been the focus of Obama for some time – that’s right, jobs and infrastructure. His rhetoric has been all about how we need to create jobs and improve our infrastructure. Here you have a infrastructure project – an actual shovel ready one – that will provide jobs and he rejects it and, as usual, tries to shift the blame to Republicans for something he decided. The implication, of course, is he might have made a different decision if they’d have let him vote “present” until after the election. Because, you see, they’ve now forced him to tack this stupid decision on his less than impressive record as president – and now he’ll have to run on it. As usual, the blame-shifter in chief had decided it is someone else’s fault.
And in case you were wondering about the timeline on this project, it goes pretty much like this:
The State Department had spent three years evaluating Keystone and appeared ready to approve the project by year-end 2011. Then the administration, citing opposition to the pipeline’s route in Nebraska, reversed course and postponed a decision to 2013 — after the election.
By the way, the supposed primary excuses for the rejection was the opposition to the pipeline mounted by Nebraska. In fact, as POLITICO reports, the White House used the Republican governor there, Dave Heineman, as cover for its decision. Heineman takes exception to that:
"I want to say I’m very disappointed," Heineman told POLITICO. "I think the president made a mistake."
"Really what he was saying in denying the permit was ‘no’ to American jobs and ‘yes’ to a greater dependence on Middle Eastern oil," he said. "We want to put America back to work."
Why is Heineman disappointed? Because there was a way in the works to let the project go ahead while negotiations were finalized that would have satisfied Heineman and the states initial objections:
He said that his Legislature and his administration were working to get the final approvals in place and that the State Department should have approved conditionally while Nebraska worked out the final route. The company seeking to build the pipeline, TransCanada, was perfectly willing to begin construction at either end and finish in Nebraska, according to Heineman.
But the unilateral president, in a fit of political pique and in full political mode, decided to dump the project … at least for now. Those ready shovels could be breaking ground today. Instead, we have to hope, if and when the decision is reversed, that it hasn’t been overcome by events and Canadians aren’t loading tar sand oil on Chinese ships.
Naturally the administration thinks Heineman’s idea is just, well, inappropriate:
“It’s the responsibility of the State Department to grant this permit, which really looks at the crossing of the international boundary. … It’s important for us to look at the full pipeline and not move forward on such a major infrastructure project that will be a part of the country and the landscape for many years in pieces like that. I hadn’t heard about the governor proposing this, but we don’t really think that’s an approach that really deals with the national interest question in an appropriate way," Assistant Secretary of State Kerri Ann Jones said on a conference call.
Right. Of course. Naturally.
Say’s the governor:
"If you’re a decisive president and you want to put America back to work, you can find a way to get to yes," Heineman said about the administration’s response. "That’s what most governors do. So I’m just not buying that."
Yeah, neither am I. Neither are 70% of the voters.
Politics … pure and simple.
Jobs president? Don’t make me laugh.
National security first? Nope, politics first.
Concerned with all Americans? Seriously?
An “act of national insanity”? Spot on.
And that, of course, was a “no”. It’s still a temporary “no”, but it is a “no” nonetheless. What it does is place the Obama Administration in the awkward position of claiming to be all in for creating jobs while nixing a project that both sides admit will create them.
Obama had hoped to delay this decision until 2013, well after the election.
The decision today doesn’t kill the pipeline by any stretch, unless Trans Canada decides not to resubmit applications for permits that would reroute the pipeline from Nebraska’s Sand Hills. That’s unlikely. Word is they already have an alternative plan developed.
So what has happened today plays into the politics of the moment. In last month’s payroll tax cut extension signed by President Obama, Republicans had included a provision that precluded the administration from delaying a decision on the pipeline. In fact, it required a decision by Feb. 21st.
Now, apparently, the White House has complied with the law and blocked the pipeline. This, of course, comes on the heels of the President’s Jobs Council recommending the administration go “all in” on exploiting North American oil and gas assets. That included recommending fast approval for key pipelines, of which Keystone is among the top.
This then gives the GOP plenty of political fodder for the upcoming campaign. It’s hard to claim to be the jobs president when you disapprove projects that would clearly provide jobs and further, disapprove the project in the face of your own Jobs Council’s recommendation to do otherwise. It is also rather difficult to claim to “share the goal of expanding domestic oil and gas production” as Presidential spokesperson Jay Carney said yesterday when you’re turning down a project that could do exactly that.
And, of course, a key constituency, who has been all for the construction of the pipeline has now been thrown under the bus. I’m talking about unions.
So, politically speaking, not a good one for the O.
Oh, and one more thing that can be made very clear to those upset by the administration’s decision. If you want to see the pipeline built there is a fairly easy solution.
Make Obama a one-term president.