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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Keystone: A Stone Rejected

One expert on energy and on how Washington works predicted to me some months ago that the Obama Administration would approve Keystone XL, the long pipeline TransCanada wants to build to connect the Alberta oil fields to our big hub in Cushing, OK.  His reasoning was essentially political: the administration knows that approval would help several Democratic senators vulnerable to losing their seats in November. The administration wants to approve Keystone anyway, he reasoned, and eventually political reality will win out over the desires of the environmentalists.

Where are we now?   The project has delayed anyway by the Nebraska legislature, and the State Department (because this comes from Canada) has put off approval indefinitely.  My friend the expert now despairs of approval ever happening during this administration.

Very predictable, I think.  Ideology in this case has consistently trumped politics.  The energy industry argues that Keystone would in fact be good for the environment--less truck emissions, less spills--but US-based environmentalists are way beyond that now.  Their concerns are planetary.  Keystone represents for them our continued global addiction to fossil fuel.  It is a giant heroin needle symbolizing our dependency.  Stop this now, and get on the road to recovery.  

It looks like the greens have won their fight, at least for now.  A fight to stop part of Keystone being built.  Another pipe, in a country with thousands of these things.  See map:

Postscript:  The White House touted their report on global warming--the third National Climate Assessment--and how it impacts everything in the country.  The administration pledges to dedicate the rest of its term in office to tackling this.  Is this part of the winning electoral strategy too?

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