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Friday, March 7, 2014

BloombergBusinessweek editor slams Keystone XL pipeline: "Give Me One Good Reason Obama Should Approve Keystone XL"

Give Me One Good Reason Obama Should Approve Keystone XL

by Brad Wieners, Bloomberg Businessweek, March 6, 2014

Tanks of unrefined oil in Cushing, Oklahoma, where there’s a glut of crude in storage
Photograph by Shane Bevel/Bloomberg
Tanks of unrefined oil in Cushing, Oklahoma, where there’s a glut of crude in storage
Really, there could be two:
1. President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, and economic growth-focused Washington want China as America’s new BFF and plan to let Beijing know by offering up an energy supply from our friends to the North.
2. Obama, Kerry, and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper have worked out a quid pro quo. The Yanks will accept a pipe carrying toxic sludge through America’s bread basket so long as Canada takes over counterterrorism in Afghanistan, sends peacekeepers to Ukraine, and Harper himself places Justin Bieber under house arrest so he can’t tour in the lower 48.
A number of strong arguments appeared to be in favor of Keystone XL when it first became a national story, beginning with jobs. Several U.S. representatives and senators testified that the pipeline would yield 20,000, 40,000, or even 100,000 new jobs. The recession made those prospects extra compelling. Turns out they were extra optimistic, too. Now we know the pipeline might generate about 3,900 temporary (two-year) construction jobs and about 50 permanent ones. (Should we really be surprised? The whole point of a pipeline is that it’s automated.)
The other big case for Keystone—also given full voice by pols who received campaign help from oil and gas lobbies—was the chance to rely on a friendly neighbor for oil rather than on an unstable Middle Eastern regime. But now, due in part to fracking and the Bakken reserve in North Dakota, U.S. oil inventories are at a 21-year high; a glut of unrefined oil is sitting in Cushing, Okla., and the U.S. is expected to become the world’s leading oil producer next year. Moreover, the sweet crude pouring out of the Bakken is of far finer quality than bitumen, the sour, thick oil sands extraction that is effectively steamed out of the soil beneath Alberta’s former boreal forest. What’s more, Keystone XL isn’t really designed to serve the U.S.; it’s meant to get Alberta’s tar sands to Texas refineries and ready for export. The Keystone XL would better serve China’s energy “independence” than America’s.
None of these arguments should particularly matter, though, as Obama has indicated that impact on the earth’s climate is his pass/fail for approving the project. This has led to a ridiculous effort to prove that the pipeline itself will not lead to a great deal more carbon entering the atmosphere. That’s a feint. The real question isn’t how carbon-intensive the 3-foot diameter pipe is but how much carbon-polluting oil it brings to market.
Presuming the tar sands will be developed with or without the Keystone XL, State’s estimates of carbon emissions were modest in its January 31, 2014, report. Even so, the report acknowledges that the project will accelerate climate change. Hence, says Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, international program director of the Natural Resources Defense Council, “President Obama now has all the information he needs to reject the pipeline.”

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