It looks like re-election politics is driving Obama to pander to the lunatic environmental left and veto the safe and shovel ready Keystone XL pipeline project. The environmental left (financed by OPEC money?) is in full howl, causing heartburn in Obama’s re-elect team.
Earlier this week, Jay Carney tried to distance Obama from the decision, telling White House reporters that “This is a decision that will be made by the State Department.”
One day later, Obama told a Nebraska TV reporter that the State Department will make a recommendation but he will make the call, saying “My general attitude is…what is best for our economy both short term and long term.” The facts say the pipeline project is best for the American economy long and short term—but the Sierra Club warned this week that approval will make it harder to rally activists for the 2012 campaign.
First of all, what is the Keystone project?
The Keystone Pipeline system is a private $13 billion, 2,450 mile project to bring Canadian oil from Hardisty, Alberta to U.S. markets in the Midwest and the Gulf Coast. It joins over 200,000 miles of oil and gas pipelines operating efficiently and safely in the U.S. to bring petroleum products to American consumers.
Phase One of the Keystone project is complete and operating today. It came on line in June 2010. The Canadian portion of the pipeline runs underground from Hardisty to Manitoba, then turns south to cross North Dakota, South Dakota to Steele City, Nebraska. One arm of the pipeline then runs east to Wood River, Illinois. The other arm is a 36 inch pipeline that runs south to Cushing, Oklahoma. All of the pipeline is underground.
Currently, 590,000 barrels of Canadian oil each day flow through this Keystone pipeline network, lessening our dependence on oil from unfriendly countries transported by environmentally dangerous tankers.
Keystone XL is a 36 inch diameter, 1661 mile expansion of this pipeline system. The first section of XL will connect Hardisty directly to Steele City, Nebraska. The second section will connect Cushing, Oklahoma with refineries in Texas. The XL sections will be buried a minimum of four feet underground and, after exhaustive, multi-year studies, meet or exceed all U.S. safety and environmental standards.
Building the XL extension will create 20,000 construction jobs financed with private money. The extension will add 510,000 barrels of Canadian oil a day to the system—oil we will not have to import from OPEC countries.
What’s not to like about a shovel ready project that creates good paying middle class jobs and lessens our dependence on OPEC oil?
Opponents claim the XL project endangers the Ogalalla Aquifer, a huge multi-state underground water source that provides drinking water for two million people and supports $20 billion in agriculture. Obama told the Nebraska reporter “we don’t want, for example, aquifers adversely affected.”
The XL project runs underground across and above the water table on a far eastern portion of the Ogalalla aquifer in Nebraska. On that section, the pipe will be encased in concrete to further insulate the aquifer from any harm. The aquifer (there’s only one) runs far underground downhill west to east, so any spill in this eastern portion has zero chance of affecting the 85% of the aquifer that lies upstream to the west. The whole aquifer is criss-crossed today with pipelines. Farms with fuel storage tanks dot the landscape above it. The aquifer is safe.
The real crux of the opposition is hostility to petroleum production anywhere, anytime.
Environmentalist hatred for the so called “tar sands” oil drilling is so intense that all U.S. deposits in the Rocky Mountains (estimated to hold oil reserves equal to Saudi Arabia) have been ruled off limits by both Republican and Democrat administrations. The Canadians have gone ahead with tar sand oil drilling in the Canadian Rockies unleashing a jobs and wealth creation explosion there while affecting one tenth of one percent of their forest lands to extract the oil.
The irony here is that if the U.S. doesn’t want this oil, Canada has already started construction on two pipelines that will run from Alberta to Vancouver on Canada’s west coast where Chinese tankers eagerly await the oil.
This debate isn’t about legitimate environmental concerns. Air and water quality, safety and spill concerns have been addressed and mitigated. Pipelines are the safest way to transport oil and gas.
The oil is needed and used by all of us every day. The only debate is whether we should get this oil from a friendly neighbor or get it from OPEC.
The Canadians have charged that Canadian environmental groups opposing the tar sands development are supported by OPEC money. Specifically that the Saudis have funded some of the opposition. When will a reporter ask the National Resources Defense Council or the Sierra Club whether they have received any money from the Middle East or other oil producers with a direct stake in continuing America’s dependence on their oil?
Obama is in political trouble. His base is evaporating. To shore up support, Obama panders to the Occupy movement, sucks up to public employee unions with “stimulus” bills, bribes college students with a student loan bailout, rebuilds ACORN to steal elections, funds Planned Parenthood and the AARP. Runs guns to the drug cartels. Ceases deportations to attract the open border activists. Anything and everything to get re-elected.
The whole world is watching. If Obama vetoes this shovel ready infrastructure project, he will block 20,000 American jobs and billions in corporate investment while increasing our dependence on oil from unfriendly countries. Obama’s veto will also harm our relationship with Canada and enrich the Chinese. All of this chaos so that Sierra Club activists stay with the campaign? Stay tuned.