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Obama Swallows A Green Poison Pill

The controversial Keystone XL pipeline was struck down for the second time this year, and once again President Obama’s fingerprints are all over it. In January, the Obama Administration made waves by vetoing the construction of the pipeline before the February 21st deadline, but on Thursday the president went further, personally calling a number of Democratic senators and urging them to vote against the pipeline in the Senate. The measure was ultimately defeated 56-42, although a number of Democrats sided with the Republicans in support of the bill.

While this is technically a victory for the President, it is more Pyrrhic than sustaining. His green base will certainly be ecstatic at this news, but he has made the greens happy at the cost of tying himself and his party to the unpopular end of this bill. In the middle of election season, the president has handed the GOP a rare success for a party that has been consistently wrong-footed for the past few months.

There are some rich greens who give money and there’s a green NGO machine, and the public (including Via Meadia) wants the environment protected, but many of the issues that matter most to professional greens are electoral poison. By blocking the pipeline and lobbying so heavily for it, President Obama has gamely swallowed one of the poison green pills; he has to hope now that its effects aren’t too strong.


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  • Lorenz Gude

    I think Obama has made two unforced errors of late. One is Keystone and the other going out of his way to unnecessarily offend the Catholic church and missing that even liberal catholics might be offended too. I don’t think either is enough to get him unelected, but it is probably enough to get him saddled with a Republican controlled house and senate. I think it is pretty clear that the public at this stage likes Obama better than any of the Republican candidates – the Real Clear Politics poll averages put Romney about 5% behind him, but a generic Republican only 1.8% behind. What may be less clear is that the public doesn’t approve of Obama’s policies, but if anyone tends to forget that, Keystone will remind them every time the fill up. It appears that neither party establishment heard the voters in 2010. I thought the short piece on Scott Brown saying that he had a real chance of retaining Teddy Kennedy’s seat is a small indication of what is in store for both parties. Neither party is fit to govern and the public knows it.

  • Everyman

    We have a long, nearly centuries-long, history of pipeline use in this country. Can no one one, not even the distinguished historian here, tell us of the damage done to the environment to date? How else to test the bona fides of Green opposition to this proposed system to deliver energy to our country?

  • a nissen

    On the premise that it is always best to get the whole story before parsing, quite often the business press is the fastest way to find or complete the full story because the business press lives or dies on how close it comes to the reality that businesses need.

    For the case at hand, see the WSJ, March 9, 2012 page A3: “Odd Alliance Says No to Gas Exports.”

    Take a read.

  • vanderleun

    Green, schmeen. What the O is hoping is that there will still be enough gulled and gutted voters willing to swallow his blue pill on election day.

    “You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.” -Morpheus

  • Mark Michael

    In a TV news story yesterday, Obama repeated the standard anti-drilling D Party mantras yesterday. He said that the U.S. used 20% of the world’s oil production but had only 2% of the world’s proven oil reserves. He also repeated the oft-cited reason for not drilling: it wouldn’t lower gas prices at the pump in the short-term. It takes years to bring the oil online and add to the general supply. He also took credit for the modest increases in oil and natural gas production recently. One just rolls one’s eyes when you hear this and wish, “Why can’t a reporter ask him in a follow-up question one (or more) of the following?”

    1. The increase in oil and natural gas extraction has come exclusively from private lands with private funds. Your administration has mostly blocked or slow-rolled expanded drilling on federal lands and offshore. That’s under your control. Why haven’t you expedited the granting of leases on federal lands and offshore? We’re slated to see continual decline in production from offshore and from federal lands under your current policies.

    2. In the 1990s, D’s blocked drilling for oil in ANWR, often using the claim it would take 10 years to get it to market. (Actually, it took 4 years to build the Alaska pipeline in the 1970s, but in any case, it would be on the market today.)

    The Obama administration spends many billions of taxpayer dollars funding R&D for “green” alternative energy sources, such as solar and wind. It funds batteries for electric and hybrid vehicles. Yet, even if successful, it will be many years, decades, before these will be practical alternatives to carbon-based fuels and vehicles.

    There’s nary a word of concern, “But it will do nothing about our short-term or even medium-term shortage of energy!” In fact, Jimmy Carter in the late 1970s used lots of tax dollars to fund alternative energy sources, too. That was a mere 35 years ago – for little current value to our energy supplies.

    3. With the combined technologies of fracking and horizontal drilling, huge sources of domestic oil and natural gas are now accessible for a reasonable cost. The 2% reserves figure Obama cites does not include these newly-accessible reserves.

    Today’s WSJ has a column (page A11), “What North Dakota could teach California” in which it claims that recent discoveries in ND’s Bakken Shale country have expanded its reserves from 150 million “technically recoverable barrels of oil” in 1995 (U.S. Geological Survey) to 4 billion barrels in April 2008. Continental Resources put it at 8 billion barrels in 2010. Quoting, “This week, given the discovery of a lower shelf of oil, they announced 24 billion barrels. Current technology allows for the extraction of only about 6% of the oil trapped one to two miles beneath the earth’s surface, so as the technical advances recoverable oil could eventually exceed 500 billion barrels.”

    The column then goes on to contrast ND’s bonanza with California’s situation. California’s oil production has been in steady decline for the last 20 years – falling by one-third to 201 million barrels/day from 320 million barrels/day in 1990. The article claims that California has more similar deposits of shale natural gas and oil than ND (perhaps 3 times as much), it’s just that their environmental movement is so strong, it blocks attempts to extract it.

    The reporters could ask Obama to use his federal leverage to push California’s political class to speed up the prudent exploitation of its shale oil and natural gas using modern technologies. It could do that without harming the environment to any great extent.

  • Mark Michael

    Whoops. A big mistype in my Comment #5. California produces 201 million barrels of oil per year today, not “per day”. (The total world’s daily oil consumption was 87.4 million barrels in 2010. The US’s consumption was approx. 20 million barrels/day, or (x365 days/year) 7.3 billion barrels/year or, as Obama said, 22% of the world’s output.)

    Sorry about that. Should proofread better.

  • Corlyss

    “many of the issues that matter most to professional greens are electoral poison.”

    Wish that were true. The envirothugs own 1.5 major parties in the US. Nations, including the US, may not have adopted the envirothugs major goals but by the same token they have done nothing to reduce, never mind cease altogether, the permanent flow of money in the form of subsidies and grants to all manner of envirothug programs, nor have the stopped teaching children about “Gaia” and the mortal threat man poses to her. It’s just a matter of time before those moneys pay off in irresistable pressure on law-makers, before those ignorant children grow up to join their ignorant parents in voting in draconian, prosperity-destroying strictures on enegry production.

    I’ve challend Marc Morano, WRM, Anthony Watt, et al. to produce any evidence that opposition to green hysteria-laden rantings has reduced by a single dime the subsidies, grants, government programs, cirricula distortions. So far, no takers.

  • Kris

    I would like to announce that I am an idiot. The proof? I bothered to read yet another nissen comment and link. You’d think I’d know better by now. Tell us, nissen, just how is it that your linked article impacts our host’s post?

    Mark@5: This datum about California should be raised if anybody so much as hints California should be bailed out.

  • Toni

    I’m going to start posting this comment every time it’s relevant:

    Obama cares about nothing but his Blue Enviro-Social Model.

  • a nissen

    Kris, all that can be said and is said in the WSJ article about exporting gas obtained by hydraulic fracturing is applicable to exporting products refined from oil obtained by hydraulic fracturing. The latter the primary object of getting oil to the Gulf Coast. There is plenty of oil already at the Gulf Coast, imported and otherwise, so much so that the current pipeline takes oil in the opposite direction than proposed as Keystone XL. The President is paid to consider all aspects, but no one demands that you do so, least of all me.

    Everyman, you too may place more stock in editorials, nevertheless here is a new story listing a few of past “difficulties” imposed by hydraulic fracturing. Interesting now the polls admit it’s bad news, but go for it, we need the jobs.

    Kris, by all means ignore! 😉

  • a nissen

    Corlyss says:
    March 10, 2012 at 4:52 pm
    “many of the issues that matter most to professional greens are electoral poison.”

    Like you, I think that statement misses the mark. I too would like to think that the electorate can see through all the professional green-washers bought and paid for my crony capitalism. As for a “professional green,” most of those either died, retired, or have been drowned out by one-note Global Warming.

    I also have doubts about what is taught to children as “Gaia.” But again, as for the real Gaia concept you really ought to look into its permaculture approach to raising food—works for me.

    Kris, ignore! 😉

  • Kris

    nissen@10: Just to be sure I understood: Is your point that the US already has enough oil? (Or at least more than it can possibly handle at the Gulf Coast?)

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