January 31, 2014

Can you see Obama's #KeystoneXL sellout coming?

Once again, the State Department has officially greased the skids for President Obama to give his official "all of the above" style okey-dokey to TransCanada's KeystoneXL pipeline.

And, that's not just me saying that. So does the analysis in the article.
The conclusions of the report appear to indicate that the project has passed Mr. Obama’s climate criteria, an outcome expected to outrage environmentalists, who have rallied, protested, marched and been arrested in demonstrations around the country against the pipeline.
The Times does go on to caveat itself in best Al Haig style:
The report released on Friday, however, is far from the final decision on the project. The State Department must next determine whether the pipeline is in the national interest. That involves taking into account both the environmental and economic impact of the project, as well as its impact on the relationship between the United States and Canada, the nation’s largest trading partner and largest source of foreign oil.
Window dressing. If it's already passed Dear Leader's climate criteria, his State Department will next trot out an overblown jobs creation estimate, add in some "good neighbor" comments about Canada, and voila!

Reality, though, is said okey-dokey will not be issued until sometime after ...

Nov. 4, 2014.

If you follow politics, you know what that date is.

Until then, we'll get more weasel words like we had last year:
In his second term, Mr. Obama has sought to make his fight against climate change a cornerstone of his legacy. In a major speech on the environment last summer, Mr. Obama said that he would approve the pipeline only if it would not “significantly exacerbate” the problem of carbon pollution. He said the pipeline’s net effects on the climate would be “absolutely critical” to his decision.
Note that one word I emphasized.

That's where the weaseling will continue to come from.

"Significantly" is in the eye of the beholder, after all.

As for whether this is a line in the sand (vs line in hardened concrete?) issue for environmentalists, I'm of two minds.

Yeah, heavy tar sands oil does add to global warming.

BUT ... somebody's going to use it, no matter what.

And, as long as Stephen Harper is Canada's prime minister, the tar sands will be mind. As they will (sorry, Canucks) if Liberal leader Justin Trudeau replaces him. Only if the New Democrats conquer Ottawa will tar sands oil be stopped.

So ... IF the pipeline is built well enough that, overall, using it is better than putting even more tar sands oil on rail cars, then we probably should do it.

Of course, if Dear Leader would pass a domestic carbon tax plus carbon tariffs on imports, tar sands oil would become that much more pricey and the whole equation would change. Especially if it were priced high enough, the tax and tariff. And, Paul Krugman, long later than me, says such a tariff should meet World Trade Organization muster.

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And, Tricky Ricky (can we mine your hair for oil?) has to get in his .02:
"Today's report means radical environmentalists are running out of excuses for forcing the delay of a project that will mean more jobs for Texans and greater energy security for North America. It’s time to move this project forward and put an end to this bureaucratic red tape. If, as the president said in his State of the Union speech, he truly wants this to be a ‘year of action,’ there would be no better way to kick it off than authorizing construction of this important project."
Sigh.

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