"Canada's oil will come out of the ground, and someone somewhere will refine it and burn it," says Washington Post

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Environmentalists v. unions

The Washington Post has a entirely reasonable editorial excoriating President Obama's politcally strategic dithering over the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline which would transport petroleum products from Canada's oilsands to U.S. Gulf coast refineries. Under pressure from environmental activists, the president has bravely decided to decide about approving the pipeline once the 2012 presidential election is over. Here's what the Post has to say: 

EARLY LAST WEEK, as the Obama administration prepared to announce a delay in deciding whether to permit the construction of the Canada-U.S. Keystone XL oil pipeline, Joe Oliver, Canada's natural resources minister, was in Asia to discuss cooperation with the energy-hungry and cash-flush Chinese on extracting his nation's oil reserves. Given that China already has an $11 billion stake in Canadian oil production, Mr. Oliver should have little trouble getting the help….

Even under optimistic assumptions about greening the world economy, the United States and every other nation will demand immense amounts of oil for decades. The resulting upward pressure on oil prices provides a massive incentive to develop previously unattractive oil deposits, such as those in Alberta's tar sands. Nixing a pipeline that would bring more of that oil to U.S. refineries wouldn't cut that demand, it wouldn't shut down Canadian production, and it wouldn't make any difference to global carbon emissions…

The United States must reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, from any source, and it should encourage nations such as China to lower the carbon intensity of their economies, too. Even if that happens, though, the world will continue to use oil, with all the dirty realities that entails. Rejecting Keystone XL would not change that fact. But it would help China lock up more of the world's oil production, cost infrastructure jobs in the United States and offend a reliable ally. More delay after three years of review is insult enough.

See my take here on the environmental risks of the Keystone XL and for more background on Canadian oilsands, see my dispatches from Alberta, The Man-Made Miracle of Oil from Sand, and Conflict Oil or Canadian Oil?

Whole Post editorial here.  

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  1. In one move Obama managed to make us more dependent on foreign oil while offending the Canadians. Smooth.

    1. From experience, Canadians have learned that US pledges of friendship have less value than one electoral vote.

      This is not new with Obama or even Bush 2 or Clinton or Bush I or Reagan…

      1. Let me explain the US government’s thinking on this:

        Who you gonna turn to? Greenland? HAHAHAHAHA

        That’s literally their take on it.

        1. Canada’s answer: “No, China”.

    2. and you gotta admit, it’s tough offending Canadians. They always struck me as a mellow group. The main offense, however, was to common sense. Does Obama think scotching the pipeline means an end the that oil?

      Of course not, but his plan for transformative change depends on chaos, and creating jobs while also providing a ready source of fuel is hte opposite of chaos.

      1. Just tell them that their beer sucks.

    3. Canada’s a foreign country, dude.

      1. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. That’s a good one.

        Canada’s not a country.

      2. I prefer Canada as my gas station then the middle east or Venezuela as there are no mass graves in their back yard.

  2. But it would help China lock up more of the world’s oil production, cost infrastructure jobs in the United States and offend a reliable ally. More delay after three years of review is insult enough.

    As if Obama gives a shit about any of that. The fucking genius will burn any bridge that isn’t related to his cronies, his personal power, and re-election.

    1. The fucking genius will burn any bridge that isn’t related to his cronies, his personal power, and re-election.

      Best Obama-in-25-words-or-less I’ve seen in awhile.

  3. The United States must reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, from any source, and it should encourage nations such as China to lower the carbon intensity of their economies, too.

    Why?

    1. Uh, well, ’cause everybody says so…

    2. and it should encourage nations such as China to lower the carbon intensity of their economies, too.

      Here China…have a bunch of cheap Canadian oil that we will not compete for and not provide a price signal to reduce consumption.

      The plan is to do the exact opposite of what should be done. BRILLIANT!!

  4. Wait, I thought the scientists told us the Earth hasn’t warmed because China was burning a bunch of coal?

    1. Micheal Mann is not a scientist. He is more of a statistics manipulator enthusiast.

      1. c’mon man, he’s been cleared by Penn State. PENN STATE.

        1. Speaking of Canada, global warming and Penn State; Here is Canadian Steve McIntyre’s take.

          http://climateaudit.org/2011/1…..ent-fired/

          Pretty good read about the hypocrisy of it all.

  5. “Under pressure from environmental activists, the president has bravely decided to decide about approving the pipeline once the 2012 presidential election is over.”

    Doesn’t this presume he actually wins the election?

    1. The best campaign ad Obama has is the Republican Candidate debates.

  6. The delay on this is beyond absurd. Are dumbass environmentalists really that big a voting bloc that it makes sense to kowtow to them even when there are many more reasons to approve than reject? And why would Nebraska be against it- wouldn’t it be good for their economy too?

    1. We need to stop this pipeline. This is a huge attack on our climate.
      We need to end the tyranny of oil!

    2. Because Nebraska splits its electoral votes based on individual districts, there is one district that went for Obama in Nebraska in 2008, gaining him one electoral vote there. It was marginal, but pissing off the ‘environmentalists’ there could tilt it back to Team Red.

      1. Wow, that is such a perfect, depressing example of what is wrong with our system.

        1. ‘Our’ system… ya hoser?

    3. environmentalists share one thread with Obama – they are against progress as defined by that which lessens dependence on govt. The enviros wish to see our standard of living degraded to that of other nations. Obama needs chaos to further his agenda and something that creates jobs AND provides energy will not do that.

    4. They must be otherwise this makes no political sense. If Obama can convince voters that he is responsible for the Pipeline being a job creator and if gas prices go down his pole numbers would probably go way up.

  7. I haven’t followed this issue closely, and it’s my understanding that the construction of this pipeline depends on the extensive use of eminent domain to seize land from owners unwilling to sell right of way to the company that would operate it.

    If that is the case, it would seem to me the administration may have made the right decision for the wrong reason.

    1. Does Keystone need to buy the land, or are they buying easements? If the pipeline is buried, do they need to own the surface?

      1. I should learn to read better. I had heard there were some holdouts that were unhappy about eminent domain for private interests issues.

    2. “If that is the case, it would seem to me the administration may have made the right decision for the wrong reason.”
      Stopped clocks and all that.

  8. We need a pipeline from russia to dc so we can pipe vodka directly into obamas rectum.

  9. “The Washington Post has a entirely reasonable editorial …

    WHAT?!?

    has there been a change of policy?

  10. “The Washington Post has a entirely reasonable editorial …

    WHAT?!?

    has there been a change of policy?

    1. we do not have to destroy our economy to accomplish full employment in China

      It not hurt.

    2. Accidents do happen.

  11. Anyone else get the feeling that the environmental movement is the propaganda wing for Jobs-in-China?

    I like employed Asians as much as the next guy…but Jesus fucking Christ the law of comparative advantage shows that we do not have to destroy our economy to accomplish full employment in China.

    1. we do not have to destroy our economy to accomplish full employment in China

      It not hurt.

      1. My economic Irony can beat the crap out of your racist irony….

        Plus without, you know, being a racist.

        Joshua Corning > Rather.

    2. Yes, thats exactly what it is. Its always been foreign propaganda.

      1. +1 me

        1. Elder Scrolls Enthusiast

          Witcher 2 and Dark Souls are better.

          Plus Bethesda sucks dog cock because it sued Mojang over the word “Scrolls”.

      2. Obviously it is not. I was only highlighting the stupidity of their motivations.

        The only winner in this is China, not the environment. And in fact as the law of comparative advantage shows china is not really a winner either. They simply lose less then the US….everyone is a loser. The environment, China and the US.

        The reality is that environmentalists are domestic and they are in fact hurting the environment and hurting the economy and their motivations are mute because the effects of their actions do nothing but harm.

        I can write that same thing 18 million ways but it gets tiresome. So I wrote a little fanciful joke about china and about how markets work instead.

        As always Joshua Corning > Rather.

  12. People seem to only acknowledge the fungibility of oil (and the general substitutability of many energy resources) when it suits them.

    So yes, if this particular pipeline isn’t built, then a pipeline to the Pacific Coast probably will be built instead, and the same amount of carbon emissions will result.

    However, if the Canadian oil gets consumed in China, that means China will import that much less oil from other global producers (Russia, Middle East, Indonesia, African states, etc.) The result will be more global oil available for the US to import.

    So, it becomes a wash either way… whether or not the pipeline gets built, the US will still be consuming more oil than it produces, with the difference being acquired from foreign producers.

    The only real question is whether it’s better to move oil over land by pipeline, or over sea by ship. The former may have a lower cash cost per barrel per mile, but involves much greater upfront capital costs and foregoes flexibility. The latter relies on existing tanker infrastructure (which is presently in surplus, with tankers being laid-up due to excess capacity) and routing can be easily diverted to wherever supply and demand dictate.

    All that said, if the pipeline is going to be 100% privately financed (including land acquisition without abuse of eminent domain), and the owner/operator will remain liable for any environmental damages due to spills or other accidents, then I see no reason for the government to stand in the way.

    1. Electric companies face the same basic question. Produce electricity or wheel it in?

      They minimize risks by locking in capacity through contractual agreements. We (American oil companies) should be locking in future supplies of Canadian oil rather than leaving themselves at the mercy of the market and Middle Eastern tyrants.

    2. I don’t have the data on it, but I assume pipelines are more efficient than shipping by tanker per km traveled. Otherwise, Germany and Russia wouldn’t have connected themselves with an underwater pipeline ( http://rt.com/business/news/no…..mber8-769/ ). The distance between Vanquisher, Canada and China is about 3 times the distance between Calgary, Canada and Houston, USA.

  13. This is the one action Obama could take, that would lead to actual jobs. Obama’s own administration has estimates showing that this project would lead to 6000 jobs.

  14. I suspect tankers leak more often than pipelines. The Exxon Valdez leak in 1989 was the most famous example in the USA ( http://www.epa.gov/osweroe1/co…../exxon.htm ). Environmentalists were working under the assumption that they could lay siege to Canada to prevent it from exporting to other countries. We need a Free Canada movement.

  15. you folks are being way too thoughtful what with comparisons of pipelines vs tankers, the Chinese economy, and job creation. The campaigner-in-chief promised TRANSFORMATIONAL change which requires general unease if not chaos.

    Lower unemployment and (perhaps) cheaper oil boggles the plan, and makes expanding govt control more difficult. By the way, anyone notice how oil is steadily creeping up in price and is now near $100/barrel?

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