Bye, Bye Keystone XL
Global warming activists can break out the champagne. They won. Keystone XL is dead. It’s not official yet, but frustrated TransCanada has switched gears.
On August 1, 2013 TransCanada announced it is building a new 2,700 mile long pipeline. The $12 billion venture is called the Energy East Pipeline Project. It will carry 1.1 million barrels a day of Alberta and Saskatchewan oil across Canada to New Brunswick refineries and a new $300 million export terminal to be built in Saint John.
The 1,200 mile long Keystone XL would have cost $5.3 billion and carried 830,000 barrels a day to U.S. Gulf Coast and Midwest refineries. Keystone XL would have also shipped oil from North Dakota’s Bakken oil fields.
President Obama’s indecision forced TransCanada to seek another way to get Canadian oil to market. As a result, North Dakota will get left out in the cold.
The Last Straw
Keystone XL got caught up in World War Warming. It got caught up in partisan politics.
A fairly routine approval process turned into a long, foot-dragging Administration effort trying to play both sides of the political fence at the same time.
The ending chronology:
- 5/2012 – TransCanada files revised Keystone XL application
- 1/2013 – Nebraska Governor approves revised application
- 3/1/2013 – U.S. State Department approves XL (Still no Obama decision)
- 4/2/2013 – TransCanada launches “binding open season” for new pipeline.
‘Binding open season’ means lining up signed contracts from paying pipeline users.
They got the needed customers
- 6/25/2013 – Obama adds new unspecified carbon pollution requirement onto Keystone XL
- 7/27/2013 – In a NYT interview, President Obama claims Keystone XL will create less than 100 jobs
President Obama played his last political game with Keystone XL on July 27th. TransCanada announced the new pipeline five days later.
A Shallow Victory
For sure, there will be radical protesters who will cheer the feel-good victory.
At long last, Keystone XL is stopped! Hurray!!
Make no nevermind that they only encouraged TransCanada to build a bigger, longer pipeline in Canada.
Make no nevermind that they didn’t stop tar sand oil.
Make no nevermind that it’ll probably raised global CO2 emissions.
Make no nevermind that they cost high paying American jobs in a down economy.
Make no nevermind that they left North Dakota’s Bakken oil with no pipeline to market.
Bakken oil will still have to travel by dangerous rail.
The protesters naively thought that if they stopped the pipeline they would stop tar sand oil development.
The Protesters stopped the pipeline, all right, but not the oil.
President Obama and the protest movement miscalculated.
Both greatly overestimate what can be achieved with renewable energy (and conservation) now and both grossly underestimate U.S. and global energy needs.
In its 2013 Annual Energy Outlook, the EIA forecasts that in 2040 green energy will supply 13% of all energy used in the United States. Fossil fuels will still supply 78%.
The green energy industry is still very much in its infancy.
Canadian tar sand oil was always going to be developed, no matter what. It will be refined and it will be burned, just not in the United States.
U.S. refineries are highly regulated. They would have refined Canadian oil cleaner than they will be in China or Russia when exported out of Saint John.
In addition to that, North Dakota Bakken oil will still have to be shipped to market by rail until another pipeline solution comes along. That risks another oil train disaster like the one in Canada that killed 47 people and destroyed most of a town.
Renewable energy and environmentalism can and should be pushed forward with great haste. But you gotta pick and chose your fights wisely.
Refusing Keystone XL was the wrong move.