I recently penned two articles about the Keystone Pipeline controversy which were met with fair degree of skepticism from my good friends on the far right. Of course all of the dire pronouncements about Obama abandoning the project, Canadian oil going to China and the net effect on our own economy were so overblown as to be outright farcical at best and incredibly naive at worst. Now as predicted, things are back on track: TransCanada Renewing Request to Build Keystone Pipeline ; “TransCanada said Monday that it would reapply for a permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline from Canadian oil sands formations in Alberta to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico…”
 
Okay so where are we now? Well we’ve seen that Obama’s “opposition” to the pipeline was highly conditional and revolved around avoiding environmentally sensitive areas, not the project itself: “He [Obama] said his action was not a final judgment on the project and invited the company to move quickly on the southern part of the 1,700-mile pipeline, which would transport only domestic oil. That part would not cross any international borders and thus would not require special approval from the State Department.” As it turns out that’s just what TransCanada plans to do: “The company also said it would seek immediate permission to move ahead with the southernmost portion of the project, from Cushing, Okla., to the gulf, in the hope that that part of the pipeline could be in service by the end of 2013. As a standalone project, the company said, the Gulf Coast portion of the pipeline would cost $2.3 billion and create about 4,000 construction and support jobs.” Moreover, a comment by a White House spokesperson emphasized the degree to which President Obama supports the Keystone Pipeline: “As the president made clear in January, we support the company’s interest in proceeding with this project, which will help address the bottleneck of oil in Cushing that has resulted in large part from increased domestic oil production, currently at an eight-year high. We look forward to working with TransCanada to ensure that it is built in a safe, responsible and timely manner, and we commit to take every step possible to expedite the necessary federal permits.” Notice that the aforementioned statement talks about the bottleneck resulting from increased levels of domestic production, so much for the myth that the president is out to throttle the domestic oil industry.
 
Oh and what about all the clap trap about our having lost out on Canadian oil to China? Well really, did anyone really think that TransCanada was truly interested in building a pipeline all the way west across Canada when it could simply resurrect Keystone by making the requested rerouting so as to avoid Nebraska’s Sand Hills? I mean come on folks, this is a no brainer and why would anyone seriously think that TransCanada wouldn’t make the required adjustments as requested of them by both the State of Nebraska and the federal government? Even Bill Clinton, a supporter of Keystone, recently stated at an energy conference that TransCanada made a fundamental mistake in its original proposed route by not avoiding the Sand Hills in the first place.
 
So there you have it. All of the bluff and bluster about Obama’s opposition to Keystone is revealed to be just that, bluff and bluster, whatever oil ends up in China was probably headed that way anyhow with minimal impact on the American economy and jobs will still be created in America after all, just a bit later than would have been otherwise. And with that, another political brouhaha is well on its way to losing steam and not a moment too soon as the conservatives are once again falling for that fatal attraction of the culture wars and the totally alienating issues related associated with it.
 
Steven J. Gulitti
3/1/12
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