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Obama Delays the Keystone Pipeline

Resourceful Earth has written often (and here) about the proposed KeystoneXL Pipeline, which would run from a large oil field in Canada and transport oil down through Oklahoma and Texas. Well, yesterday the Obama administration announced that the State Department would be taking a closer look at the pipeline and study alternative routes, and whether or not the pipeline is in the national interest. This will delay the ultimate decision until after the 2012 election, thus ensuring the support of much of Obama’s base, for which this issue was turned into a political hot potato. Some analysts have suggested that this will kill the project entirely, as alternative infrastructure to sell the Canadian oil to other sources might be constructed in the meantime, though its too early to tell if that will turn out to be true.

The pipeline wasn’t going to make or break the economy, or oil prices, or anything like that, but it was a small piece of our energy infrastructure that is needed to allow oil to flow more efficiently around our country. Despite environmental propaganda, there really aren’t any alternatives to oil out there, as electric vehicles still have significant drawbacks (and are prohibitively expensive) and biofuels have not taken off.

The Wall Street Journal writes:

President Obama used to be fond of “shovel-ready projects.” He’s also demanding that Congress pass his jobs bill immediately because 9% unemployment is a crisis, and, by the way, he’s for making the U.S. less reliant on energy from tyrants. So how about putting 20,000 Americans to work on a North American energy project that’s as shovel-ready as they come? Sorry, Mr. Obama is voting present.

The $7 billion project is TransCanada’s Keystone XL, a 1,700-mile underground pipeline that would deliver 830,000 barrels of heavy crude oil a day from Alberta to refineries in Oklahoma and Texas. TransCanada filed an application to build the pipeline in September 2008 with the State Department, which must approve it because the pipeline would cross the 49th parallel. In April 2010 and again this August, State produced multivolume environmental impact statements that concluded the pipeline would have “no significant impacts” on the environment. That should have ended the matter.

But the President’s environmentalist friends have decided to make Keystone a test of his green virtue. “We’ll see if [Mr. Obama] is an oil guy or a people guy,” eco-agitator Bill McKibben recently warned at an Occupy Wall Street event, and the Sierra Club has threatened that it won’t “mobilize the environmental base” in 2012 if he approves the project. Various Hollywood worthies have marched in front of the White House in protest.

Now, the oil from Alberta will be shipped to other parts of the world, or shipped by rail. Ironically, the agressive NIMBY’ism employed by KeystoneXL opponents might harm future renewable energy projects, as is argued in today’s New York Times.

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