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The Fight Over Keystone XL Now Has a 60-Day Deadline

Brad Johnson
ThinkProgress / News Analysis
Published: Sunday 25 December 2011
Tar sands oil is even more toxic to the climate than conventional oil.
Article image

Attached to the payroll tax deal was a provision forcing President Obama to decide within 60 days whether or not to approve the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, before its route is even finalized. The deadline runs out on February 21, 2012. The State Department has made it clear it can’t do a proper review of the pipeline, especially considering that TransCanada has agreed to change the pipeline’s pathway in Nebraska but hasn’t even finalized the new route.

With this new and arbitrary deadline, the punditocracy is relitigating the question of whether it should be built. The DC political elite assumed that the pipeline was an inevitability, dismissive or ignorant of the popular opposition to a risky, foreign tar sands pipeline cutting across the center of the nation. Most were blindsided when the State Department announced it needed to review its obviously flawed assessment of the project, and when the state of Nebraska held an emergency legislative session against the pipeline.

With the new rush to approve TransCanada’s tar sands pipeline, let’s review some key facts that should underlie any analysis of the proposed 1700-mile project from Alberta to Texas:

The approval process for the Keystone XL pipeline was tainted by corruption. The federal approval process was run by a contractor for the pipeline company itself. Cardno Entrix was chosen and paid by TransCanada to draft the State Department’s environmental and historical impact statement, manage public hearings, and receive public comment. Big oil’s lobbying group American Petroleum Institute was also involved in drafting the environmental impact statement while running ads in favor of tar sands development. TransCanada, who employed former Hillary Clinton aides as lobbyists, has bullied landowners and moved towards construction without needed approval. In response to a congressional request, the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General has launched an investigation.

Keystone XL was not an American jobs bonanza. In 2008, TransCanada’s Presidential Permit application for Keystone XL to the State Department indicated “a peak workforce of approximately 3,500 to 4,200 construction personnel” to build the pipeline. The State Department’s more generous estimate, compiled by a TransCanada contractor, was for 5,000 temporary jobs. The only independent analysis conducted of the American job-creation potential of the Keystone XL pipeline finds that between 500 and 1400 temporary local construction jobs will be created, with a negative long-term economic impact as gas prices rise in the Midwest and environmental costs are borne. A deal struck between TransCanada and some American unions in September 2010 assumed rapid approval of the pipeline, which has obviously not come to pass. Other labor unions oppose the pipeline. Much of the temporary employment potential for Keystone XL is already in the past, with foreign-built pipe stockpiled in North Dakota.

Rapid Canadian tar sands development is not an inevitability. The Keystone XL pipeline is not the only tar sands project facing major headwinds. Stephen Harper, Canada’s oil-friendly prime minister, is telling reporters that if Keystone XL isn’t built, Canada will build a pipeline to its west coast and ship oil to Canada. Of course, Haper and the oil companies are hoping to do both — they want tar sands pipelines going in every direction. But the multi-year push to go west has been stalled just like Keystone XL. With fierce opposition from indigenous communities, the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline — planned in 2005 — has been delayed to late 2013, and wouldn’t go on line before 2017.

There needs to be a rapid decarbonization of the global economy, incompatible with Keystone XL. Tar sands oil is even more toxic to the climate than conventional oil. As KC Golden writes, “IEA’s warnings against imminent climate ‘lock-in’ mean that any major investment in long-lived, capital-intensive fossil-fuel infrastructure must now be considered flatly immoral.” The expected lifetime of the 500,000-barrel-a-day Keystone XL pipeline is fifty years.

Unfortunately, these facts are being ignored by a lot of intelligent people weighing in on the Keystone XL fight. Econ blogger Matt Yglesias, who discloses that his uncle, prominent economist Paul Jaskow, is on TransCanada’s board, hopes for a world in which “America taxes carbon and continues to build out fossil fuel infrastructure.” That’s not a “sage compromise,” it’s a recipe for disaster, incompatible with a path of climate survival.

Yglesias cites economist and blogger James Hamilton, who also favors the Keystone XL pipeline. Hamilton argues approval of Keystone “should be an easy decision,” because the pipeline would make tar sands crude more expensive by allowing it to reach international markets, generating “$3.6 billion in annual value added.” That benefit, Hamilton claims, “would go to the people who work to build the pipeline, motorists who buy the gasoline, workers and companies that produce the oil, and the government that collects taxes from all the rest.”

The benefit certainly wouldn’t go to the few people who would work to build the pipeline — it’s not like they get royalties once their work is done. The “new real income and growth” that would come from relieving the Midwest tar sands glut wouldn’t in any way be evenly distributed. Essentially its only economic effect would be to transfer billions of dollars from Midwest motorists to Canadian oil producers, Texas refiners, and international commodity traders, while accelerating catastrophic climate change. It would exacerbate economic and political inequality, not improve it.

Originally published on ThinkProgress


Author pic
ABOUT Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is the Editor for ThinkProgress Green at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Brad holds a bachelor’s degree in math and physics from Amherst College and master’s degree in geosciences from the Massachusetts Institute for Technology. He is the co-author of Technomanifestos and the founder of HillHeat.com. Prior to joining the Center, he worked as a developer for Saatchi & Saatchi, Lextranet, and the Democratic National Committee. Brad grew up in Boston, Massachusetts.

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I went to tons of links

I went to tons of links before this, what was I tihnikng?

Cardno Entrix?! Is that the

Cardno Entrix?! Is that the name of a person or a made-up name of a lobbyist - made up by cartoonist Matt Groenig to fit into a Simpson's episode? Cardno Entrix?? That's an amazing name for an oil lobbyist!

Obama’s Senior Campaign

Obama’s Senior Campaign Advisor Former Lobbyist for Keystone XL Pipeline
October 26, 2011 By Kate Follot 3 Comments

The Obama campaign recently hired Broderick Johnson, a former lobbyist for the Keystone XL pipeline, as a new senior advisor to the president’s 2012 re-election campaign. Records show that Broderick Johnson lobbied Congress on the Keystone XL pipeline while working for Bryan Cave LLP, a top lobby firm in Washington, DC. During the fourth quarter of 2010, the firm spent $120,000 working on the issue. Bryan Cave LLP reported earnings of $1.08 million between 2009-2011 lobbying on behalf of pipeline company TransCanada, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
&&&&&&&&&&&&
"The news about Mr. Johnson comes on top of the revelations that Hillary Clinton’s former deputy campaign manager became the lead lobbyist for the pipeline firm TransCanada, and that the State Department literally let TransCanada pick the company that would conduct the environmental review of its project," said Bill McKibben, of TarSandsAction.org and 350.org, which have been spearheading protests against the pipeline.
"It stinks. I don’t think you could conceive a more elaborate way to disrespect not just the environmental community but also Occupy Wall Street, because this is simply a reminder of the way that corporate lobbyists dominate our politics. Forget ‘Hope and Change’ – it’s like they want their new slogan to be ‘Business as Usual.’"
Bill McKibben couldn’t have put it better. To say the least, I am outraged and extremely disappointed. It’s like a slap in the face. A few months ago I wrote about going to DC and getting arrested with 1252 others in a two-week-long peaceful protest against the Keystone XL Pipeline. Please read more about the pipeline here. I sincerely hope that this was not a personal choice of Obama’s and that he will fix this soon.
Source: Planetsave (http://s.tt/13DbH)

How about using one of George

How about using one of George Bush's favorite tricks ??? THE SIGNING STATEMENT.........remember his saying he is not required to follow the decision/law. . . pay back is a B*T*H

If Obama would just man-up

If Obama would just man-up and kill Keystone, it would suck the energy out of the Republicans' manuevering, and any furor they do manage to create would blow over long before the election. The longer he delays, the more they'll be able to beat him over the head with it.

KeystoneXL is a bad deal for America, for the environment, for jobs... it's only a good deal for the oil companies, and even then it's only marginal.

HYCJL18565V3Wonderful! thanks

HYCJL18565V3Wonderful! thanks for sharing. We learn a lot from this post. Canadian Goose was developed as a nod to the styling and needs of post Canada Goose Men's Parka & Vest Outlet canada goose chilliwack bomber parka war bush pilots in Canada's north. The success of this iconic Goose Parka jackets is evidenced by the canada goose chilliwack parka women fact that canada goose chilliwack parka women are still worn by northern pilots today and can be seen canada goose chilliwack parka women on TV shows like Ice Pilots. http://www.goose-parka.org/

There's an interesting

There's an interesting article over on the Natural Resources Defense Council website that says that the pipeline is all about Canada getting a better price for its oil. The Gulf Coast is a foreign trade zone (FTZ) and crude oil refined there is not subject to U.S. taxes, thus making it cheaper and more profitable to the producers. All of the oil that is presently being produced in the tar sands zone is now going to refineries in the Midwest, where it will be consumed by Americans. The oil going to the Gulf Coast will not be purchased by Americans - it will go into the global market. The purpose of the pipeline, according to Anthony Swift, the author of the article, "is a way to get Canadian oil out of the United States, not into it."

http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/aswift/keystone_xl_is_a_tar_sands_pip....

That's "pip.html" at the end. Nation of Change - you need to look into why a link cannot be posted and why, when it is posted, your software truncates the URL.

This pipe, which has been

This pipe, which has been declared safe is anything but! Most people think of an aquifer as a small underground chamber, but the Nebraska aquifer covers a large portion of the state. Water flows through gravel only a few feet underground. It is VAST! Then, in case nobody notice, it flows into the Platte River -- from there into the Missouri River and then into the Mississippi River! Now just think of an oil slick getting loose in there!!

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