The controversy over Keystone would seem curious to someone visiting from the year 2010, regardless of that time traveler’s green or brown sensibilities. The project is, as the FT puts it, “[o]f little strategic importance in itself,” but has morphed in to the dominant environmental issue in America today.Choosing to make their opposition to the pipeline its marquee position was a strange strategic blunder for the green movement, simply because the pipeline itself isn’t the thing hurting the earth, or causing climate change. True, the Canadian oil it will transport to Gulf Coast refineries is of a particularly dirty and low-quality variety, but if President Obama chooses to nix Keystone, that oil will still find its way to market, whether by truck, train, or alternative pipelines. Keystone would just be the most cost-effective, safest option, but blocking it won’t shut down Alberta’s tar sands production.The FT is tired of the debate, and in a thoughtful editorial writes that “it is time for the Obama administration to bring the battle to an end”:
[T]he pipeline would create tens of thousands of jobs while under construction, ease the path to US markets for oil from a friendly neighbour and provide a transport route with less risk of serious accidents than rail.These benefits, set against a marginal long-term difference to greenhouse gas emissions, mean the Obama administration should approve the project when it comes to make a decision early next year.
Keystone was never a good issue to focus on, but this enormous strategic blunder is what we’ve come to expect from the feckless and increasingly irrelevant green movement.
[Oil rig image courtesy of Shutterstock]