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Pipeline Politics
The Irrelevance of Keystone

Next to climate change, the Keystone XL pipeline is the most contentious and well-known issue in the modern green movement’s portfolio. It’s too bad, then, that the pipeline is effectively irrelevant. The FT reports:

[S]topping the [Keystone] pipeline route will not stop the production in the oil sands nor the greenhouse gas emissions. The oil will continue to come through current routes and via rail, which poses its own environmental threats. By November last year, 180,000 barrels per day entered the US from Canada via rail tankers. The US, one way or another, will get its oil.

This irrelevance, though, is why Keystone should have been approved years ago. If, as report after report have indicated, Canada’s oil sands crude will find a way to market with or without passage through America’s heartland, then the pipeline itself is neither green nor brown. It’s a piece of secondary infrastructure, and no amount of green protesting can change the simple fact that Keystone’s construction will have a negligible effect on climate change.

As Keystone’s saga stretches into its seventh year, the Obama administration is running out of excuses to kick the can down the road (just how long is this road, anyway?), and the new Republican-controlled Congress is ready and eager to force the President’s hand on the issue. By his own logic, Obama ought to have approved the pipeline long ago.

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  • S.C. Schwarz

    The importance of KXL is, of course, symbolic. It demonstrates to elected officials the power of Big Green. The fact that it really makes no sense to block KXL is part of the strategy. If Big Green says no, it’s no, even if there’s no logic to it.

    • Josephbleau

      Yes, and it also adds the unintended consequence of pushing the pendulum in the direction of less green extremism. In any case, money spent protesting the pipe is less money for Hillary! Commercials.

  • FriendlyGoat

    Will anyone want to build that pipeline for the current crude price?

    • f1b0nacc1

      If they (potential investors) believe that the overall benefit to them exceeds the cost, then they will invest, else they will likely not. That is how markets work…. I suspect (but cannot prove) that the potential benefit is considerably greater than the cost at this time, so we are quite likely to see the pipeline built. Herein lies the difference between Keystone and the so-called ‘green energy’ boondoggles…in a free market (i.e. absent subsidies and the various rent-seeking activities of this administration’s cronies), there is a reason to invest in Keystone…nobody would do so with green energy unless the wheels are being greased.

  • gabrielsyme

    Keystone is neither essential nor potentially devastating to America. Obama’s decision to prevent its approval, however, clearly indicates the worst kind of appeasement of the loony left. Perhaps even more so, it represents a huge middle finger in the direction of Canada, demonstrating once more that if you want something from the Obama White House, you are better advised to proliferate nuclear weapons or imprison dissidents than be an ally.

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