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.
The “this”? Keystone XL pipeline. Why is the president at all involved in this decision? Why is he threatening a veto if the Republican Congress passes a bill authorizing it?
The nation’s pipelines are a transportation system. Pipelines enable the safe movement of extraordinary quantities of energy products to industry and consumers, literally fueling our economy and way of life. The arteries of the Nation’s energy infrastructure, as well as one of the safest and least costly ways to transport energy products, our oil and gas pipelines provide the resources needed for national defense, heat and cool our homes, generate power for business and fuel an unparalleled transportation system.
The nation’s more than 2.6 million miles of pipelines safely deliver trillions of cubic feet of natural gas and hundreds of billions of ton/miles of liquid petroleum products each year. They are essential: the volumes of energy products they move are well beyond the capacity of other forms of transportation. It would take a constant line of tanker trucks, about 750 per day, loading up and moving out every two minutes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to move the volume of even a modest pipeline. The railroad-equivalent of this single pipeline would be a train of 75 2,000-barrel tank rail cars everyday.
Pipeline systems are the safest means to move these products.
The source? The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration of the Department of Transportation. Yes, that’s right, the US government. Executive branch.
Note the facts – 2.6 million miles of pipeline safely moving petroleum products 24/7. Look at would be required without them.
Oh, wait, look what’s required without Keystone – trucking and railcars, of course. And who has a major stake in those operations continuing? You know how this works … follow the money.
Can you say “cronyism”?
Sure you can.
The most “transparent administration”, ever!
Btw, GOP … make his veto it or forever be held as the cowards most think you are (after all, you didn’t even have the courage to dump Boehner).
This week, Bruce, Michael, and Dale talk about the Republican primaries and the Keystone decision.
The direct link to the podcast can be found here.
As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.
More on the Keystone decision and why it was a decision based in politics, not what was best for America
More fallout from the Obama Keystone XL pipeline decision. Read this carefully:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in a telephone call yesterday, told Obama “Canada will continue to work to diversify its energy exports,” according to details provided by Harper’s office. Canadian Natural Resource Minister Joe Oliver said relying less on the U.S. would help strengthen the country’s “financial security.”
The “decision by the Obama administration underlines the importance of diversifying and expanding our markets, including the growing Asian market,” Oliver told reporters in Ottawa.
Currently, 99 percent of Canada’s crude exports go to the U.S., a figure that Harper wants to reduce in his bid to make Canada a “superpower” in global energy markets.
Canada accounts for more than 90 percent of all proven reserves outside the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, according to data compiled in the BP Statistical Review of World Energy. Most of Canada’s crude is produced from oil-sands deposits in the landlocked province of Alberta, where output is expected to double over the next eight years, according to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.
“Relying less on the U.S.” “Diversify our markets”. “99% of … crude exports go to U.S.”
Those three phrases shout one thing in unison: The U.S. is an unreliable trading partner.
One more shocking statistic, if we want to talk about safe and secure petroleum supplies in our future – “Canada accounts for more than 90 percent of all proven reserves outside the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries”.
In case you missed it that’s OPEC. That’s right the very oil cartel in which we find most of the less than friendly oil exporters in this world.
As Gale Norton points out, this should have been a no brainer:
This seems like a truly simple determination. Iran is threatening to blockade the 20 percent of the world’s oil supply that flows through the Strait of Hormuz. The American economy is struggling from high unemployment. The volatility of oil prices, reflected in periodic spikes at the gas pump, is a threat to productivity. A privately funded pipeline project that would create tens of thousands of jobs while helping stabilize America’s energy supply clearly seems to be in the national interest.
Here we have, next door to us for heaven sake, a supply of oil from a friendly nation which is about as secure as it can get and we do what?
Warren Meyer, writing at Forbes, hits upon some apparent truths:
But local environmental concerns were merely the public pretext for a decision that is much more troubling. Opposition to the pipeline began to rally among radical environmental groups long before any of them had the first clue about the pipeline route. The real goal of these groups was not to protect water along the pipeline route, but to make it impossible to develop new sources of oil in Canada. Unable to stop Canadian oil drilling and tar sand extraction programs, environmental groups are now trying to block any pipeline that is proposed out of the oil producing regions.
As I pointed out yesterday, the “local concerns” had been addressed or were being addressed successfully according to the Governor of Nebraska. And, as Meyer points out, there was no real reason for this decision except:
The Keystone decision only makes sense in the context of a general push to limit energy supply and roll back our industrial economy and all its amazing gifts. Part and parcel of this same effort has been the growing opposition to natural gas fracking. Fracking is an underground procedure that has been used safely and successfully for decades to extend the life of older oil wells. Fracking is one reason that serial predictions of older fields “running out of oil” have been repeatedly incorrect.
Recently, though, fracking has presented the promise of substantially increasing our domestic energy supply by opening up new shale formations previously thought to be impossible to produce. With this new promise, anti-growth, anti-energy environmentalists have suddenly taken notice, and are gearing up to try to kill this exciting (and ironically quite clean) new energy source.
I think he has a very valid point – a point that William Tucker has also written about. This is about stopping progress. This is about a selfish belief that since they have theirs, the rest has no need for more. Here’s Tucker’s description:
It is not that the average person is not concerned about the environment. Everyone weighs the balance of economic gain against a respect for nature. It is only the truly affluent, however, who can be concerned about the environment to the exclusion of everything else. Most people see the benefits of pipelines and power plants and admit they have to be built somewhere. Only in the highest echelons do we hear people say, "We don’t need to build any pipelines. We’ve already got enough energy. We can all sit around awaiting the day we live off wind and sunshine."
And that’s precisely the case with Keystone. Meyer again:
Ostensibly, Obama made the decision to block the pipeline because of concern over contamination of the Ogallala Reservoir, a vast underground water source that makes much of Midwestern agriculture possible. And I am sure there are folks whose concerns are narrowly about the Ogallala or other environmental and NIMBY concerns along the proposed route. But the US has tens of thousands of miles of petroleum pipelines, many cris-crossing this same general area. There is nothing unprecedented or unmanageable about this particular line. Had these routing issues been the actual problem, the Obama Administration could easily have approved the line with conditions or route modifications.
The national security and energy needs of the nation are being held hostage by an affluent elite who have decided, because they can, that enough is enough. And they have the perfect soul-mate/tool to implement their desires in the Oval Office. Don’t forget, this is the guy who said that at some point, “you’ve made enough money”. They couldn’t be more simpatico.
Meyer also asks a question to make a point about the red herring of the route:
Does anyone doubt that had this exact same route been for high speed rail, rather than a pipeline, it would already have been approved and President Obama likely would have been proposing to throw a pile of taxpayer money at it to boot? This despite the fact that high-speed rail almost certainly has more environmental negatives than an underground pipeline. The route has always been a red herring — the real goal is reducing energy supply.
He’s dead right. Also:
The Keystone XL pipeline would have single-handedly carried more energy to the United States than the sum of all the green energy projects funded by the Obama Administration. And it would have done so entirely with private funds rather than the Administrations increasingly ill-fated and ham-handed attempts at venture capitalism with taxpayer funds.
In the case of the pipeline, the Obama administration killed a private infrastructure project that is widely supported, covers its own costs, and requires no taxpayer money. I wonder where Thomas Friedman is — does he still lament our inability to do large infrastructure projects of the kind President Obama just blocked, or does he only support large state-funded triumphal projects? This seems yet another example of what I called the tendency of government to shift capital from the productive to the sexy.
There you have it, all laid out in a neat bundle. A “private infrastructure project that … covers its own costs and requires no taxpayer money”, vs. an environmentally destructive government boondoggle that most oppose and neither the federal or state government can afford?
The choice of this administration is the latter.
Finally, to once and for all put the “route” issue to bed, check out this map. Find Omaha. Yes, that’s right, there are oil pipelines all over Nebraska.
And surprise …the XL pipeline is the second phase of TransCanada’s pipeline plans.
TransCanada won approval in 2008 for the first Keystone pipeline, which carries crude oil across Saskatchewan and Manitoba and through North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and Illinois. That portion began moving crude in June 2010.
Uh, yes, that’s right … Nebraska. And apparently, at least to this point, everything has operated as expected with no environmental problems. So could these route problems have been handled without rejecting the pipeline in question? Of course they could have.
P.S. I’ll have a lot more to say about fracking (which suffers from the same sorts of attacks by the same sorts of groups) in a post soon.
I’m not sure how else to describe this statement from “the smartest man in the room” concerning the Keystone XL pipeline and unemployment benefits:
As Obama called for passage of those bills, he also responded to a recent Republican push to require him to approve the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada. "However many jobs might be generated by a Keystone pipeline," he said, "they’re going to be a lot fewer than the jobs that are created by extending the payroll tax cut and extending unemployment insurance."
It’s rather hard to even imagine someone thinking that’s true. Yet here’s the guy who is supposed to be making jobs his focus and economic recovery his priority and he thinks he’s doing his job by trying to get unemployment insurance extended? He believes that the extension of the payroll tax cut is job creator? Note the word – create, as in what Obama said. While it certainly can be argued that on some level it might save a few jobs, if there were any to be created from its extension, they’ve most likely already been created.
The Keystone XL pipeline on the other hand, will create thousands and thousands of jobs.
TransCanada is poised to put 13,000 Americans to work to construct the pipeline – pipefitters, welders, mechanics, electricians, heavy equipment operators, among other jobs – in addition to 7,000 manufacturing jobs that would be created across the U.S. Additionally, local businesses along the pipeline route will benefit from the 118,000 spin-off jobs Keystone XL will create through increased business for local goods and service providers.
Of course, besides the pure economic ignorance displayed by the statement, Mr. Obama offers nothing in terms of numbers to back his claim. It’s another in a long line of claims made recently that just aren’t true.
While President Obama continues to claim that he and America can’t wait on Congress to act on his jobs bill, he apparently might delay a decision that would create hundreds of thousands of jobs till after the next election:
The Obama administration is considering a move that could delay a decision on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline by requiring sponsors to reduce the project’s environmental risks before it can be approved, according to people with knowledge of the deliberations.
The step might put off a decision until after the 2012 election and be a way for the White House to at least temporarily avoid antagonizing either the unions that support the pipeline or the environmental activists who oppose it as President Obama gears up for his campaign.
That’s right, it’s about politics. Need a job? Keystone XL pipeline might be the very project to provide that. But to heck with you, your President has an election to win and he can’t afford to alienate or antagonize anyone in his base. And this decision is going to hack off some of his supporters. He’s either going to make the environmental extremists that populate the left very unhappy or the labor unions that back the Keystone project and the jobs it will create.
So, in typical Obama style, he’ll just delay the decision till after the November 2012 election. He apparently can wait on that.
A day after the White House said that the State Department would make the call, President Obama has decided he’ll make the ultimate decision on the Keystone XL pipeline which would bring petroleum product from the tar sands of Canada to the US.
This has become a cause the “climate change” crowd has embraced and have tried to paint as one which would supposedly increase “global warming”. Of course the actual science of “global warming” doesn’t support the contention that the earth is warming, however that is a part of the science that these folks have decided to ignore.
The fact that Obama has chosen to make the decision himself may confuse some – why not let the State Department, who makes decisions such as this when a foreign nation is involved? Well that’s what makes me uneasy. There’s an election coming and his environmental base has been very disappointed in him. Read between the lines of the statement he made and the answer he provided to a question:
“We need to encourage domestic oil and natural gas production,” Obama added. “We need to make sure that we have energy security and aren’t just relying on Middle East sources. But there’s a way of doing that and still making sure that the health and safety of the American people and folks in Nebraska are protected, and that’s how I’ll be measuring these recommendations when they come to me.”
The “but” is rather pregnant isn’t it?
Then the question concerning jobs and the promise of thousands of jobs if the pipeline is approved. Will that have an effect on his decision?
“It does, but I think folks in Nebraska like all across the country aren’t going to say to themselves, ‘We’ll take a few thousand jobs if it means that our kids are potentially drinking water that would damage their health or rich land that’s so important to agriculture in Nebraska are being adversely affected,’” Obama said, adding, “because those create jobs, and you know when somebody gets sick that’s a cost that the society has to bear as well. So these are all things that you have to take a look at when you make these decisions.”
For your information, petroleum pipelines crisscross this country. In fact, more than 168,000 miles of petroleum pipelines have been in operation, safely, for decades. 85% of all petroleum product is moved by pipeline.
So this isn’t about “safety” – the product has been moved in safety for years. It’s much like the fracking argument. It is unfounded and based in fear of something that isn’t true. And like the fracking argument, the opposition likes to try to frame the procedure as something new and dangerous. Well it isn’t new. Fracking has been in use since 1948 very safely and over a million wells have been developed using it.
The argument used by opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline is that the petroleum shipped in that pipeline is more corrosive and dangerous than regular petroleum product. The Association of Oil Pipelines answers that question:
Opponents have also wrongly suggested that crude from the Canadian oil sands is somehow more corrosive than other heavy crudes, which have been moved safely for decades. It is not. The oil sands may be produced differently, but the product readied for pipeline transportation will be behave like any other heavy crude oil. There is simply no evidence pipelines carrying diluted bitumen behave any differently than a pipeline carrying conventional crude oil, or that diluted bitumen is more corrosive than other crude oils. Pipeline operators don’t build multi-billion dollar assets to then destroy them with a corrosive product.
So Obama gets to decide between jobs and increased energy security and politics. We currently get 400,000 barrels a day from the oil sands in Alberta. This pipeline promises to add another 700,000 barrels a day from a secure source. Or will Canada be forced to build a pipeline to the west coast and ship it to China?
This should be a no brainer. Jobs along with safe transportation of a vital commodity which powers our economy is a winner for the nation. But this is a president in political trouble and desperately trying to shore up his eroding base.
Will he put the well being and energy security of America and Americans first?
Or will he play the politics card?
Unfortunately, the latter is much more probable than the former, given how political Obama is. Don’t be surprised if he turns down jobs and energy security for the promise of increased political support from his base.
One of the arguments you consistently hear from the left is we can’t become “energy independent”, or said another way, we can’t become independent from “foreign oil”.
Well, there’s foreign oil and then there’s “foreign oil”. While it is true, at least at the moment, that we’re unable to fully develop and use our own national fossil fuel assets to make us independent, there is certainly a way we can pick and choose from whom we buy our oil to lessen the possibility that we’ll become hostage to unfriendly foreign powers. Friendly neighbors who are close are the solution to our energy security. But only if we recognize that fact and understand how strategically that lessens our energy vulnerability markedly.
Obviously two close neighbors, Mexico and Canada, fit that profile. So it seems a no-brainer to exploit those relationships and do all that is possible to make sure it is the US that secures the bulk of what they’re willing to produce and offer on the world market, no?
It seems there’s an expectation on the part of the left that President Obama and his administration will block the Keystone XL pipeline that would transport oil taken from Canada’s oil sands to the US. A means of tying up secure oil from a safe, secure and friendly neighbor are in the air because of absurd environmental concerns. And those protesting the pipeline fully expect Obama to back their demands.
Of course, unsaid, until now at least, is Keystone XL isn’t the only pipeline Canada will build, and it certainly isn’t going to wait on the US to make up its mind:
Considering geography, exporting oil from Canada to a non-American market doesn’t sound easy; Canada’s tar sands are close to the U.S. border, but not much else. So we asked John Baird — Canada’s new foreign minister, who was in Washington recently to speak with Ms. Clinton — which nations would buy oil that America decided not to take. His answer was quick and unequivocal: the Chinese. New pipeline infrastructure will transport oil between the tar sands and Canada’s west coast, from which tankers can ship it across the Pacific Ocean. And, even now, Chinese firms are buying stakes in Canadian tar sands.
Ron Liepert, energy minister of Alberta is crystal clear about which nation is most interested:
He noted China is poised for action, investing $15 billion in the province over the past 18 months. "There is a long-term plan to get oil to the East," he said.
That investment isn’t being made for grins. It is being made by China to secure their energy future at the cost of ours.
As usual, when it comes to this administration, we dither about our energy future and security, while others act aggressively. Another reason to have them join the growing ranks of the unemployed in 2012.