Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Time to Build the Keystone Pipeline XL

How does an administration release documents to the public when it wants as little notice as possible?  The documents are a part of what is commonly called a Friday doc dump.  Last week those documents included the findings from the latest studies on the Keystone Pipeline XL proposal.

The State Department studies are complete and the conclusion is clear: the Keystone Pipeline XL project warrants continuation.  Previous studies found the same conclusions but President Obama and former Secretary of State Clinton felt the pressure from the environmentalist left and caved.  Instead of following the advice of scientists and energy experts, another big study was ordered.  Now that the election is over and Barack Obama will not be running for office again, maybe some common sense will prevail.

The State Department’s long-awaited environmental reassessment of the Keystone XL pipeline left climate activists sputtering with outrage Friday and had the project’s supporters clamoring for a final decision from President Barack Obama.What the department didn’t do: Issue a clear yea or nay on the nation’s most fiercely debated energy project.
But its sprawling report also leaves Obama with no clear scientific justification for rejecting  Keystone — a little more than two weeks after he pledged in his State of the Union that attacking climate change will be one of the top priorities of his second term.
Following a well established pattern when decision-making is called for in a policy question, Team Obama punted. 

Environmentalists on the left are again issuing threats, should President Obama sign approval of the project.

Fearing defeat, some in the environmental movement are beginning to warn that Obama’s goal of winning back the House for Democrats in 2014 could be at risk if he were to give the go-ahead to the pipeline. “We’re building a movement. But if he says yes to the pipeline, he’s going to be telling that movement he doesn’t need them,” said Kessler, of 350.org.Green groups saw many of their favored House and Senate candidates triumph in the 2012 elections. They say the grassroots excitement that drove those victories will evaporate in 2014 if Obama comes down on the side of the oil-and-gas industry in the pipeline battle. “I think if he says yes to Keystone that does turn a lot of folks off. We’ve poured so much energy, so much enthusiasm in this fight,” Peter LaFontaine, an energy policy advocate with the National Wildlife Federation, told The Hill. “I think, being perfectly frank, they lose a pretty big chunk of the electorate that’s stood with them in tough times.”
Publications across the country are publishing editorials stating the time is now to stop the foot dragging:

At a time of rising global competition for energy resources, the pipeline would bring reliable new oil supplies to a U.S. that still imports 40% of its crude, 7.6 million barrels a day last year. And 40% of those imports come from OPEC nations such as Venezuela, Iraq and Nigeria. Keystone is expected to supply 830,000 million barrels a day, a key step toward the long-sought goal of North American energy independence, which suddenly seems attainable.Much of the opposition to Keystone has come from critics who say running a big pipeline through the heart of the USA is too risky. Haven't they noticed that tens of thousands of miles of oil pipelines already crisscross the United States? As long as the nation's quarter-billion vehicles rely almost exclusively on gasoline and diesel, pipelines are the safest and most efficient way to move it.Obama delayed a final decision on Keystone last year, in part to allow a rerouting around environmentally sensitive areas in Nebraska. That has been accomplished, and Nebraska's governor signed off on the new map last month.
The goal of locking down tar-sands oil and stopping other forms of fossil fuel production such as fracking — as many protesters demanded in Sunday's demonstration — would be more compelling if the U.S. were ready to shift to renewable fuels such as solar, wind and biomass to power vehicles, heat homes and run factories. Last year, though, renewables supplied just 9.4% of all U.S. energy needs, despite robust tax incentives for wind power and electric cars. Shutting down conventional sources of energy at this point is naive and economically destructive. 
President Obama has not been shy in displaying his disdain for the domestic oil and gas industry. Pursuit of renewable energy is a worthy ambition.  We are simply not there yet.  

The big labor unions who supported and voted for President Obama want the pipeline project to move forward for the jobs it will create.  Unlike the non-existent "shovel ready" jobs promoted during the days of the 2009 taxpayer funded stimulus package, the construction jobs connected with the pipeline are real ones. 

His labor supporters favor the pipeline, which will provide thousands of union jobs. His green supporters don't much care about jobs because they are already rich. They are also impervious to evidence like that in the State Department report because global warming is their religion.
The international implications are important, too.  The pipeline originates in Canada, our northern neighbor and stalwart ally on the world stage.  With the State Department involved in the vetting process, it is important to use utmost care in the decision.  Canadian officials have expressed frustration with the ongoing debate and how it is framed.

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