November 06, 2014

#KeystoneXL, Obama and the GOP

Faux News, in a half-correct piece (any talk that Mitch the Turtle has made about repealing Obamacare isn't real) says that the KeystoneXL pipeline will be front and center among talking points between President Obama and House and Senate GOP leaders tomorrow.

A final White House decision on Keystone was punted past Election Day, of course. Regular readers of this corner of the Interwebz know that that was no surprise to me either, of course.

So, what will Obama do?
1. I say there's a 40 percent chance he approves it straight up before the end of the year.
2. Or there's a 40 percent change he OKs it with some face-saving "concessions" from the GOP.
3. There's a 20 percent chance he kills it. And, that may be a high guess.

Your thoughts? Hit the poll on the right.

(Nov. 19: That "concessions" could include a straight-up OK of Keystone but with bargains on other legislation. That said, if I'm Dear Leader, I get some advance guarantee on those concessions.)

And, what will he do on other items?

Related to Keystone, he'll "double down" on his "all of the above" energy strategy, insisting on some crumbs still going to green energy. When red-state senators are reminded that many of them are in sunny areas, those who are OK with pork will agree.  And, per the likes of Microsoft and Yahoo buying up green power as soon as it becomes available, there are things to show any GOP Congresscritter who's not totally in the nutbar tank.

After all, Google, Microsoft, Walmart and Mars (the candy folks, headquartered here) have bought green power in Texas. Google's bought green power in Jim Imhofe's Oklahoma.

Is that what he should do?

I'm actually of somewhat mixed minds.

First, tar sands oil will continue to be mined, and continue to be exported, anyway. Jobs on pipeline building aside, a fair amount of it will be exported to U.S. oil refineries.

That said, because Obama didn't do the Senate heavy lifting in 2009 on a carbon cap-and-trade program, which of course isn't enough by itself to control what's staring us in the face, it's doubtful he'll take a strong stand against Keystone.

Second, with all the worries about pipelines, if that oil is coming here, it's safer coming via pipeline, even with the risk of leaks, than via rail. Related to that? Building the pipeline would reduce some horrific freight rail congestion that affects not only Amtrak, but grain from farmers and other things.

Third? Stephen Harper's Conservatives don't look like they're leaving office any time soon. Either in Ottawa at the federal level, or at the provincial level in Alberta. Right now, they hold 161 of 305 seats federally. It's doubtful that the next Canadian federal election will cut the majority to a plurality; the Conservatives have lost five seats in by-elections since 2011. And, if it does, rather than letting Harper run a minority government, I have little doubt that Justin Trudeau would put his liberals into a coalition to get a few crumbs of power.

Short of a change in Canadian government plus a carbon tax and tariff in the U.S., the on-the-ground dynamics of Alberta tar sands aren't changing.

As this piece spells out, those dynamics are huge. They include the federal and provincial governments treating Canada's First Nations as badly, if not more so, than the U.S. has treated our Native Americans in the past. Tribal divisions result from that. And, the relentless tar sands mining continues.

And, unless somebody can point out to me a 2016 U.S. presidential contender within the Democratic party who will come within 100 miles of a carbon tax, that's not changing.

So, approve the pipeline with concessions is the best realistic choice.


Any executive actions he take will be weak tea.

And, environmental organizations asking me to sign petitions to ask Congress to block Keystone? IT won't work,  of course, and this is really just baseball for environmentalist group fundraiisng.


PDiddie said...

Small potatoes. First they repeal Obamacare and when Obama vetoes it, they draft articles of impeachment.

Meanwhile the fundies bitch about not passing a law outlawing abortion.

(He might actually sign a a bill okaying KL, for shit's sake. You know, in a spirit of cooperation and bipartisanship.)

Gadfly said...

Your link is very true indeed. Per my Texas roundup, and my one comment on your page, can you blame minority Democrats from staying away from the polls this year?