Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Keystone Pipeline is dead. Or is it?

A few years back, the Keystone XL pipeline was seen as a routine infrastructure project, designed to carry oil-like bitumen from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast. It's still no more than that, but it's become very much more.

Environmentalists say that it's a renewed commitment to dirty fuels at the expense of green energy. Keystone advocates say it's a project that will bring vital jobs. Neither is really true. The pipeline isn't a threat to green energy; it merely would provide stable and efficient transport for oil while other energy possibilities continue to evolve. It also isn't a jobs program; the employment it would provide is real, but mostly temporary. 

But now, Keystone appears dead. Or is it?

On Tuesday afternoon, President Obama vetoed a bill that authorized construction of the pipeline. He did so not with a flourish but with a quiet 104-word letter:

Here's what that letter didn't say: Keystone is a bad idea. Environmentalists hope Obama will say that shortly, once final Keystone reviews by eight federal agencies are completed. Several previous reviews have been inconclusive on whether Keystone, by itself, would add to greenhouse gases, given that the oil it transports will be extracted from the Canadian tar sands, anyway.

Obama, who was once non-committal about the pipeline's benefits and dangers, has cast a more scornful eye at it in recent speeches. But he's left himself flexibility Tuesday, depending on what those final reviews conclude.

What Obama did say is that the call on Keystone should come from him - and that he won't let an impatient Congress do an end-around on "established executive branch procedures." (This comes, of course, from an impatient president who did an end-around on established Congressional procedures when he crafted immigration policy disguised as an executive action. Consistency, once again, is not a virtue of either party.) 

So what comes next? Republicans will likely try again on Keystone, this time attaching similar pipeline language to a spending bill that Democrats and Obama will want to pass. It's a distasteful form of legislative arm twisting, and it probably would get vetoed again if it reached the President, which is unlikely.

What's more likely is that Keystone will get the nod in a couple years from a Republican president, or from President Hillary Clinton, who said in 2010 she was inclined to support the pipeline. (She's now declining to take a position until those agency reviews are in.) Clinton, who is no enemy of the environment, understood at one point that Keystone doesn't have to be, either. It's an efficient placeholder while we work our way toward the greener future we want. Or at least that's what Keystone was supposed to be, before it became the political trophy it is.

Peter St. Onge


Andrew Thiel said...

2300 days isn't enough time? How long does the smartest President ever need???

Larry said...

See folks, the White House and Democratic Charlotte Spokesperson has told us all we need to know.

What would we do with out the observer and mainly what would democrats and obama do with out such media.

I guess we will hear from the Female Conservative on the Editorial Board at the Observer, just about any minute now.

Alannc44 said...

It's a little cynical to say the tarsands will get developed anyway. Probably true, but not at the rapidity with the pipeline. It's obviously needed by the oil industry and The Kochs, otherwise they wouldn't lobby for it so heavily.

Tvan said...

I've read numerous articles about this pipeline, for and against it. However, I have to read one opposing it that has made me say, "Yes, I agree that this is bad for the environment." Look, burning fossil fuels are not the best of energy sources, but at the moment, it's the best source we have. Shredding mountains in order to get coal is a stupid idea especially when we have mounds and mounds of waste to burn for energy. But, lobbyists from BOTH sides of the aisle are propping up coal. Green energy is great, but as studies have shown, it's dirty as well. And if you don't think so, go look up how batteries for electric vehicles are made.

All in all, running petrol through a pipeline is a far better idea than running it down our roads and rails. Or have we forgotten about the very recent incidents both here and in Canada? Putting more petrol on the open market is a good idea because it helps drive the costs down. Or have we forgotten about what the Saudis did a few months ago?

Redlight said...

I'll never believe we elected Obama the second time.

Unknown said...

The dirty untold secret is Warren Buffett has a huge stake in the rail car oil delivery systems. Uncle Warren gets what Uncle Warren wants. Obama sold out to one of his biggest supporters to the tune of blue collar American jobs. Sad but political donations are so much more important than jobs.

Karl said...

7 years of 'review' and Obama's EPA is STILL not done...

More lies from this President. Much like "No one who makes over $250k will have their taxes raised....If you like your Plan, you can keep your Plan...if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor...the average family will save $2,500/year on their health insurance...the ACA is NOT a tax...."

This President has more than doubled our debt in 7 years...and has more scandals than any other President in history (IRS, Fast and Furious, Benghazi, ACA creation, Watching the AP, Rosengate, Sebelius payments, Pigford scandal, Veterans Affairs, Solyndra, New Black Panthers, War Powers Resolution, etc etc).

Folks, wake up!

Bill Birt said...

This does not suprise me. Sad as it would have really helped the economy.

Bussta Brown said...

Karl, turn off faux news. You're killing us.

Karl said...

Bussta -- *Brilliant* retort! What did I post that wasn't true? Name ONE THING.

100 bucks you won't bother to reply because it'd take too much brain matter to think....thus, why you folks elect the people you do....

James Edgar said...

This issue is typical of our politics. What is good for the American people takes a back seat to the politicians' #1 goal - not to serve the people, but to drive the other party out of existence. The President is opposing the pipeline because the far-left enviornmentalists are pressuring him, and the Republicans are championing the pipeline because the President is opposing it.

I couldn't care less about the politics. The pipeline is needed so we will need to purchase less Middle East oil. That's the same reason the 12 billion barrels of oil in the Alaska wildlife reserve need to be extracted, and I couldn't care less if drilling for the oil extincts some native Alaskan insect. I'm tired of the price of oil & gas jumping $2.00 because some Iranian official sneezes too often. There is enough oil & natural gas in and around North America that we should never have to purchase a drop from the Middle Eastern and Russian terrorists. You want to see the terrorism threat go away? Take away all their money by not buying their oil.

Enough already. Build the pipeline, go get the Alaskan oil and use fracking safely until the renewables mature to the point where we can use them without interruption and thecost is less than fossil fuels.

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