Even as the Tar Sands Action protests at the White House are continuing, the big dogs of the Washington Post — apparently feeling that since the Sulzbergers of the New York Times have taken an anti-Athabascan-Tar-Sands position, they must do the exact opposite — sends forth one of their useful idiots, Robert Samuelson, to try and make the Keystone XL protesters go away:
If Obama rejects the pipeline, he would — perversely — increase greenhouse gas emissions. Canada has made clear that it will proceed with oil sands development regardless of the American decision. If the United States doesn’t want the oil, China and other Asian countries do. Pipelines would be built to the West Coast. Transporting the oil by tanker to Asia would almost certainly create more emissions than moving it by pipeline to closer U.S. markets.
I have two words for that: “Bull” and “Shit”.
First off, it’s very, very expensive to extract oil from tar sands, especially the increasingly-costly Athabascan Tar Sands, so much so that exploiting the Athabascan sands is only economically worthwhile if the oil is pumped through a pipeline (which is itself only possible if the molasses-consistency “oil” is first diluted with lighter oils or even water), and only if oil goes and stays above $4 a gallon at the pump throughout the US, the Keystone XL pipeline’s target market. This is not exactly a safe assumption as $4-a-gallon gas curtails economic production sufficiently to cause a slackening of demand for oil; remember how the price of gas flirted with $4 a gallon in July of 2008, only to start dropping precipitously once the 2008 crash kicked into high gear? In short, taking away the pipeline takes away the developers’ ability to make a profit off of this boondoggle.
Second off, China is, if anything, trying to get the hell off of both coal and oil as fast as it can, because it’s been made crystal-clear what’s going to happen if it keeps kicking out carbon emissions at high rates. China is also determined to use more of its own oil rather than relying on imports; its known reserves of oil and natural gas have increased markedly in recent years. Read the rest of this entry →