Obama’s Bargain – New Climate Change Policy for Keystone Pipeline Approval

8/22/11

8/22/11 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The signs (and rumors) are everywhere. “Long-view” Obama’s going to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline, a seriously short-sighted boondoggle. It’s just a matter of time while he:

a) has the departments conduct their due diligence first;

b) makes sure that all parties have signed-off on it to avoid legal challenges (fat chance of that);

c) bides time because he knows how unpopular his decision will be with his liberal base;

d) uses this as a bargaining chip with Republicans on other major climate change legislation (like cap and trade?) ; and

e) all of the above.

Adding grist to the rumor mill are reports that he’s attempting to assuage the fears (and protests) of his big (and loudest) Democratic donors (like billionaire environmentalist hero Tom Steyer). http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2013/06/03/keystone-opponent-tom-steyer-warns-obama-to-reject-pipeline-or-face-backlash/

While these big-ticket donors clamor for him to NOT approve Keystone (the evidence is everywhere how this is so NOT “in the national interest”), Obama’s revealing to them (only, apparently) that he’s going to release his second term climate policy in July. Almost as a bargaining chip with his own side.

With his administration under pressure from environmentalists to reject the Keystone XL pipeline project, President Barack Obama plans to unveil a package of separate actions next month focused on curbing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

At closed-door fundraisers held over the past few weeks, the president has been telling Democratic party donors that he will unveil new climate proposals in July….

Obama’s promise frequently comes in response to pleas from donors to reject TransCanada Corp. (TRP)’s proposed Keystone XL project, a $5.3 billion pipeline that would carry tar-sands oil from Canada to U.S. refineries. Opponents of the pipeline say it would increase greenhouse-gas emissions by encouraging use of the tar sands.

While Obama has not detailed the specifics of his plan to the donors, pipeline opponents anticipate the package will include a plan from the Environmental Protection Agency to issue final rules to limit greenhouse-gas emissions from new power plants….

The White House plan may also include a standard for limits on existing power plants, something EPA officials have said they expect to propose in the next 18 months.

Available at: http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/06/14/2156711/june-14-news-obamas-second-term-climate-strategy-could-be-unveiled-in-july/

While this is good news for efforts to fight global warming (again I refuse to use the Republican propagandist euphemism “climate change”), it’s still “game over” (Bill McKibbon’s words) if Keystone is approved. The approval of one does not outweigh the ungodly approval of Keystone.

See my previous posts on this topic. I am still absolutely goddamned mystified why anybody but TransCanada, a few thousand short-term construction employees who seek temp jobs, and U.S. refinery interests — and Asia, of course) — would have the audacity to think Keystone is good idea. It’s absolutely the worst idea at the worst time.

I’ll say it again:

1. Only 35 perm jobs will be created; http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/04/17/1885621/keystone-pipeline-will-create-only-35-permanent-jobs-emit-51-coal-plants-worth-of-carbon/

2. The oil is destined for Asia; http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2011/08/110819-keystone-xl-canadian-oil-and-chinese-market/

3. Will not affect U.S. demand or bring down gas prices (in fact, some analysts say it may in reality raise gas prices) http://www.nbcnews.com/business/why-keystone-pipeline-would-boost-pump-prices-223667

4. U.S. gets nothing out of this, except it’s left holding the environmental bag. http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/04/22/1905321/epa-slams-states-draft-impact-statement-for-keystone-xl/

Even British Columbia just rejected a similar pipeline across its borders — and it’s their freaking country’s business! http://www.pri.org/stories/science/environment/british-columbia-rejects-oil-pipeline-casting-keystone-in-new-light-14056.html

Reports are even mounting that without Keystone the carbon will stay in the ground. Here’s this from the Wall Street Journal:

Extracting Canada’s huge deposits of oil sands in the next few years might not be economically viable without building the hotly contested Keystone XL pipeline into the U.S., according to new research that environmentalists said bolsters their view that blocking the project would shut off development of the energy source.

Available at: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324069104578531713102125222.html

BTW, here’s Tom Steyer’s open letter to Obama on Keystone:

Open Letter to President Barack Obama

Dear Mr. President, With Friday’s announcement that the Canadian provincial government of British Columbia opposes the transportation of tar sands oil over their lands, the last of the arguments for the development of the KeystonePipeline has collapsed.
 
It has been my belief all along that your Administration was not going to approve the Keystone Pipeline because it simply made no sense on the policy merits to allow a pipeline that would enable massive greenhouse emissions, do almost nothing for our economy and slow our own move to research- based advanced energy independence that will generate hundreds of thousands of American jobs. Now this announcement by British Columbia, coupled with the other information that has come out since the review of the project began, means the controversy should be over.
 
Over the last year, each of the policy arguments for the pipeline has cratered.
 
First fell the argument that the pipeline would support oil independence. The U.S. is now an exporter of oil, and the Keystone oil will be piped across the Midwest down to the Gulf of Mexico where it will then be shipped as a cheap source of energy to our economic competitors in Asia, including China. In fact, TransCanada, the company building the pipeline, refused to support guarantees that the Keystone oil would not be used for foreign export when asked by Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA) during congressional testimony in December 2011.
 
Second toppled the argument that the pipeline is good for the U.S. economy. The pipeline will generate profits, but profits overwhelmingly for foreign companies. The project will generate as much as $3.9 billion in additional revenue for foreign oil companies. Jobs, of course, are critical, but for the billions that the American people will generate for foreign oil companies, we will only get 35 permanent jobs in return. In fact, it appears that among the few Americans who would actually financially benefit from the building of the pipeline are the Koch Brothers (they have already been storing a toxic byproduct of Canadian tar sands oil at a location in Detroit, and in
Canadian regulatory filings one of their subsidiaries declared that it had a “direct and substantial interest” in the construction of Keystone).
 
And now, the argument that the tar sands oil was going to be delivered across Canada if the U.S. pipeline was not permitted has been demolished. The contractor hired by the State Department to prepare its Keystone XL environmental impact review is reportedly under investigation for an alleged conflict of interest. Based on that contractor’s report, the State Department declared that there will be no significant greenhouse gas emissions from Keystone because the oil would be exported by other means if the pipeline were not approved. That argument was always a flimsy rationalization, but it has now been completely undermined by the decision of British Columbia to oppose a route through that province. This decision shows that our Environmental Protection Agency was right all along: Transporting tar sands from Canada through the Keystone Pipeline will significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions.
 
Given that none of the chief arguments being put forth by supporters of the pipeline remain standing, NextGenAction is going to be working with our friends and allies who are opposed to the development of Keystone XL to intensify our efforts in communicating what is the right policy choice to your Administration. On June 20, in Washington D.C. we will announce a campaign that will specifically focus on communicating to those Americans across the country that supported your re-election in 2012.
 
Respectfully, Tom Steyer
 
 
Obama may not listen to his rank-and-file environmentalist base (hey, I voted for Jill Stein, Green Party candidate), but hopefully he’ll listen to billionaire donors.
 
 
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3 Responses to Obama’s Bargain – New Climate Change Policy for Keystone Pipeline Approval

  1. Pingback: Asian markets rise, greece hopes spur bargain buying – Lightest Skateboard Trucks Manufacturer » HON 2000

  2. Pingback: OK, Now TransCanada Is Just Throwing it in Our Face (Keystone) | gettingonmysoapbox

  3. Pingback: By Obama’s Own Analysis — Keystone Should Be Rejected | gettingonmysoapbox

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