Officially this decision, announced November 10, was meant to give the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and its Nebraska counterpart time for a closer look at an “environmentally sensitive” area in the planned pipeline crossing through Nebraska. Concern about an oil spill contaminating a large subterranean aquifer has routinely been raised. In response TransCanada Corp. has increased safety measures in that geographic area to satisfy apprehension. Not to be dissuaded, environmentalists continued protesting and sought delay; they got their wish. Many question whether this delay is a political play by the Obama administration to satisfy environmentalist voters—a suspicion fed by the Administration’s announcement that the decision will be made after the 2012 election.
This political stalling is another serious blow to America’s energy industry. Beyond the immediate loss of invested capital and jobs, and the loss of $5.2 billion in tax revenue, we must consider that America will lose up to one million barrels of oil daily, resulting in higher fuel prices here. Those barrels will now go to China in all likelihood, says Stephen Harper
, Canadian Prime Minister. If environmentalists were really so concerned about emission standards they would allow America to use the Canadian oil. Our vehicles produce far lower emissions than those in China and India. “Canadian government spokesman
Andrew MacDougall said the country was disappointed with the U.S. decision to delay approval but ‘we remain hopeful the project will be decided on its merits and eventually approved.’”
We too are disappointed that climate alarmism and the fear of slight and manageable oil spills have crippled America’s ability to utilize its own energy wealth.
[Editor’s note: Energy policy expert Vaclav Smil just published an excellent discussion of the importance of the Keystone XL pipeline extension
in The American
, the online magazine of The American Enterprise Institute. Smil’s clear, factual discussion should set aside all objections to Keystone XL’s extension. E.g.:
- The extension would add just over 1 percent to total petroleum pipeline networks in the U.S. and Canada;
- The pipelines are much safer transport modes than truck, train, or tanker ship;
- On worst-case assumptions the extension would add only about 1/40th the CO2 to the atmosphere each year that China alone adds;
- If Canada doesn’t sell that oil to the U.S. through the Keystone XL extension, it’ll sell it to Asian nations (including China) instead, resulting in greater risk of spills in transport and greater CO2 and other emissions from the less efficient and less regulated uses in those countries) should set aside objections to Keystone XL’s extension.
Smil concludes: “By preventing the oil flow from Canada, the United States will thus deliberately deprive itself of new manufacturing and construction jobs; it will not slow down the increase of global CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion (OK, by two weeks, perhaps); it will almost certainly empower China; and it will make itself strategically even more vulnerable by becoming further dependent on declining, unstable, and contested overseas crude oil supplies. That is what is called a spherically perfect decision, because no matter from which angle you look at it, it looks perfectly the same: wrong.” We couldn’t have said it better.—ECB]