Proposed pipeline predicament

Obama running out of reasons to reject Keystone XL
Associated Press
Feb 2, 2014


President Barack Obama is running out of reasons to say no to Keystone XL, the proposed oil pipeline that's long been looming over his environmental legacy.

Five years after the pipeline's backers first asked the Obama administration for approval, the project remains in limbo, stuck in a complex regulatory process that has enabled Obama to put off what will inevitably be a politically explosive decision. But the release Friday of a long-awaited government report removes a major excuse for delay, ramping up pressure on the president to make a call.

The State Department's report raised no significant environmental objections to the pipeline, marking a victory for proponents, who argue the project will create jobs and strengthen America's energy security.

Environmentalists disagree and insist approval would fly in the face of Obama's vaunted promise to fight climate change, even as the report gives him political cover to approve it. They argue the report, which provides a detailed assessment of tar sands emissions, offers Obama more than enough justification to oppose the pipeline.

Obama is not tipping his hand. But the White House pushed back on the notion that the pipeline is now headed for speedy approval. Only after various U.S. agencies and the public have a chance to weigh the report and other data will a decision be made, said White House spokesman Matt Lehrich.

"The president has clearly stated that the project will be in the national interest only if it does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution," Lehrich said, echoing a declaration Obama made in a speech laying out his climate change plan.

A final decision isn't expected until this summer, at the earliest, meaning the verdict could potentially come in the run-up to November's midterm elections, in which energy issues are likely to be a factor in some key races. The decision might also coincide with the Obama administration's release of new emissions rules for existing power plants that are also politically contentious.

Because Keystone has become a proxy for the broader battle over energy vs. environment, Obama's decision will have an outsized impact on his environmental legacy. The issue has taken on a life of its own, trailing Obama seemingly wherever he goes.

Protesters, one who dresses as a polar bear, show up regularly outside the White House and at Obama events across the country to demonstrate against it. Both sides have run television ads urging Obama to take their side on the pipeline, which would carry oil from tar sands in western Canada 1,179 miles to a hub in Nebraska, where it would connect with existing pipelines to carry more than 800,000 barrels of crude oil a day to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast.

"Sometimes you don't get to choose the symbol of an issue — they get chosen for you, and there's no better example of that than Keystone," said Daniel J. Weiss, director of climate strategy at the Center for American Progress and a Keystone opponent. "His decision on this issue will symbolize his record on climate and energy for people on both sides of the debate."

If Obama gives Keystone the green light, environmental groups that are already upset with him for promoting domestic oil and gas drilling are sure to pile on. Moreover, it's unlikely to win him any accolades from Republicans. Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster, said rather than give Obama credit for finally making the decision they wanted, Republicans will criticize him for taking so long.

Ironically for Obama, who has been seeking out opportunities to act unilaterally in the face of congressional gridlock, this is one decision the president may wish weren't up to him. Republicans seized on Obama's vow to use his "pen and phone" to take executive action this year as they urged him Friday to sign the pipeline's permit.

"Please pick up that pen you've been talking so much about and make this happen," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

The White House has sought to dodge questions publicly about the pipeline by arguing the review process is housed at the State Department, which has jurisdiction because the pipeline would cross a U.S. border. But privately, administration officials concede that Obama will decide an issue of this magnitude.

Obama doesn't just face domestic pressure on the issue — Canada has been angered at the long delays of the project it needs to export its growing oil sands production. Obama meets with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper at a trilateral summit in Mexico in a few weeks.

Obama blocked the Keystone XL pipeline in January 2012, saying he did not have enough time for a fair review before a looming deadline forced on him by congressional Republicans. That delayed the choice for him until after his re-election.

Now that the review is complete, other government agencies have 90 days to comment. Then Secretary of State John Kerry makes a recommendation to Obama on whether the project is in the national interest, taking into account Obama's pledge that the effect on greenhouse gas emissions will be part of that equation.

The State Department report Friday said Keystone is unlikely to significantly impact oil sands extraction or the demand for heavy crude oil at U.S. refineries. Keystone opponents called the report flawed and argued it ignored evidence.



Running out of excuses for his failed healthcare plan too. Lol great time to be a conservative!!!!

Really are you ...

Ok. United States oil, No. Canadian oil, Yes. How much will we be paying Canada? Extracting 800,000 barrels a day from tar sands would have to make one heck of a hole. With tar removed from sand, where will they put the clean sand? Send it back to Canada?

All I can say is we are approaching this dilemma the wrong way.


Fourth qtr. GDP was up 3.2% on an annual basis.

Why? The shale boom is reducing U.S. imports of foreign oil, causing a reduction in the trade deficit.

Would you rather the U.S. import oil from friendly Canada or keep importing it from the Middle East where many hate us?

Like it or not, the oil services business is MANUFACTURING.

Doesn't Pres. Obama keep harping on creating manufacturing jobs?

Well there ya go!


That's odd. None of the information I read from leading economists stated the shale boom was the reason 4th quarter GDP was up. They all have a simpler explanation: the economy is better, and the improvement will continue.

Ya gotta love some conservatives...they'll deny, deny, deny that anything has gotten better under Obama. Then, when it becomes so blatantly obvious to everyone that things are better, the first thing out of their mouths is "Well, yeah, but that's because...."

Having said that, I'm not against Keystone, because it will create jobs, albeit temporary jobs. That's the other half of the story you won't hear from conservatives: the construction jobs for the pipeline are obviously temporary: once you build the pipeline, you don't need people to build the pipeline. Far fewer would be needed to maintain it, once it's there.

We should also not sweep under the rug the legitimate concerns at how the pipeline will affect the environment and wildlife. Do we really expect that we can run it through Yellowstone Nat'l Park and not affect things?


Re: "the economy is better, and the improvement will continue."

Reads like a very sophomoric explanation for "leading economists" to make, sure it’s not just yours?

The Canadian tar sands oil is moving by rail currently with Mr. Buffett enjoying the profit.

The pipeline will help reduce transportation costs.

Recently got back from a trip near Houston & Corpus Christi.

Saw lots of ocean oil platform construction & the building of expansions to refineries.

The shale oil boom is occurring in spite of the Obstructer-in-Chief.

Darwin's choice

Expert! How many Nobel Prizes have you won there, know it all?

The Big Dog's back

The bulk of the oil will go overseas. How is that helping us?


"Keystone is not for exports,"

Better read your own link derpy.

Readin' a TX newspaper? For shame!

Exports don't produce jobs? That's not what Pres. Obama has said. You should pay better attention.

Darwin's choice

And, true to cling-on form, Robin shows up to hang on to Batfan!!

Sorry, from now on....Mini-he !!

Really are you ...

I thought that someone on these blog sites said that once oil is extracted, it went to a, I guess you would call it a pool. Oil Producing Exporting Countries, which is setting the price at the pump by supply and demand. Are they refining all this petroleum into vasciline? Because people are having it taken to them at the pump. Negative! About 70% of big oil profits come from the transportation industry.

Controlled explosions driving pistons propelling a vehicle in a designated direction. For fossil fuels in general the combustion of a fossil fuel to heat water to rotate a turbine in a power plant, generating electricity. Combustion is carbon emmission, no matter how you combust it. All of the current methods of generating electricity, and moving our transportation needs into the future could be solved by this SPEG device. It is not this Plasma or Molten Salt Water thing either.


On a related note, has anyone read that the GOP is holding classes for their prospective congressmen, so that they can avoid Akin/Mourdock-like campaign blunders? This isn't a joke. They actually held a 2-day session to teach their candidates what NOT to say.

Clearly, they don't want people to know what some of their candidates really feel/think, because if that happens, they won't get elected. So, let's teach them how to pretend they're somebody they aren't.

The irony, of course, is this appears to be what derailed Romney's campaign. Has anyone seen the new Romney flick on Netflix? In a nutshell, it proposes that Romney lost because his campaign marketed him as someone he wasn't. They turned a likeable family man into someone nobody liked, including much of their own party.

So, now we have clueless GOP party leadership teaching clueless GOP candidates how to avoid saying clueless things while on the campaign trail. I tell ya, you can't make this stuff up. The only time Republicans are funny is when they aren't attempting to be funny. :)


Re: "On a related note,"

Off-topic and just another example of your tiresome, certified and homespun rendition of:

“If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullsh*t.”

- W.C. Fields


Maybe they should follow the Democrats example and seal all their personal records and attack and blame their way into office without anyone actually knowing what policies they stand for? They turned a street corner rabble rouser with no experience in anything besides blaming others into a president who does not seem to understand how government works with the checks and balances.


Dont think for one min that obama doesnt know what hes doing, he told everyone he was gonna tranform america. Too bad there were so many that were too stupid to understand what he was saying. like toasterfan, and big dog licker, the farce is strong with these 2

Darwin's choice

Expert. Coasterfan, where do you keep all your "prize" medals that you surely must have for your self serving intelligence?


Re: "too stupid to understand what he was saying."

On the contrary, they're totalitarian-authoritarian statists. They understand perfectly and don't think that's he's gone far enough.

Now what they, Pres. Obama and others of their ilk fail to comprehend is that a socialistic centrally planned and controlled economy has never and will never work.

Heck, they even had a perfect 70 yr. laboratory in the ol' Soviet Union and still can't see it.

But "hope and change" continues to spring eternal.

The Big Dog's back

Yep, we could have had the Repub no hope and we're taking your change.


Re: "we're taking your change."

Nah. You proles get the crumbs that the ruling class nomenklatura allows you to have.


Darwin's choice


jibber jabber

DO i said do you REALLY think by finishing the Pipe Line it will make your GAS price go down in Cost? If you think that, your uninformed, it is going to be sold to the market. Price Per Barrel at the Sock Market.


ive noticed socks have gone up in price


Re: "GAS price go down in Cost?"

Oil production and refining are two totally different industries.

Most majors have sold off their refineries because it's a low profit, slow-growth industry.

Besides, oil is fungible.

Also, would you rather that the Canadians build a western pipeline and ship it to China?

The Big Dog's back

More than half the refineries that existed in 1981 are now closed due to low utilization rates and accelerating mergers.[20] As a result of these closures total US refinery capacity fell between 1981 to 1995.

During the Raygun years? Say it ain't so pooh.


Re: "low utilization rates"

Thanks for helping to make my point derpy.

Also, the refineries were old, outdated and the costs too expensive to retrofit.

So have you bought a Volt yet or are ya still drivin' that old Mazda?

The Big Dog's back

So you're agreeing, it wasn't regulations.


Retrofit = environmental controls derpy.


By the way; your pal talks out of both sides of his mouth (SHOCKER!).

The Obama admin. and state regulators agreed to loosen certain environmental restrictions on a refinery to help keep it open.

Keep chasing your tail, derpy. It's so cute.

Darwin's choice

Great post, mini-he!!