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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Unfit for Office: Obama Puts Politics Ahead of National Interest in Keystone Pipeline Decision

Higher gas prices,  fewer American jobs, lost tax revenue, greater dependence on overseas oil and yes, more carbon emissions is the result of Obama's attempt to appease radical environmentalists for the sake of his re-election campaign!

A friend from Calgary, Alberta Canada sent me the following cartoon:

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Canadians are scratching their heads wondering why the Obama Administration would reject a pipeline which would provide a steady supply of oil from a trusted ally and neighbor in favor of continuing dependence on overseas supplies. Canadians need to know that it's no bad reflection on them. The bottom line is that Obama put political considerations for his re-election campaign ahead of our relationship with Canada and America's national interest.

The Obama Administration gave various reasons for their decision. First Obama did what he does best and blamed Republicans for setting a “rushed and arbitrary deadline” in the two month payroll tax cut extension. But the Administration had already had three years to study the pipeline and had concluded that there were few environmental risks

Rejecting Pipeline will Increase CO2 Emissions

In their protest against the pipeline radical environmentalists relied on their usual bag of tricks trotting out some sap in a polar bear suit trying to link any carbon emissions from Keystone oil to global warming and the destruction of polar bear habitat. Put aside for a moment that the claims that man made carbon emissions are disrupting polar bear habitats is specious (polar bear populations in North America are growing). The plain fact is that this oil will be used somewhere. The Chinese have already expressed an interest in buying the oil. That means that not only will the oil be used in a country with much fewer pollution controls but it will also be shipped there in oil tankers which burn fuel and pose a greater environmental hazard from spills than do pipelines. And of course Americans will still be buying oil from overseas and shipping it to the U.S. in tankers as well.

Another reason given for rejecting the pipeline was that it would cross an environmentally sensitive area of Nebraska called the Ogallala Aquifer which supplies drinking and irrigation water for a large section of the that region. But there are already 25,000 miles of pipeline which cross the aquifer, 2,000 of which are in Nebraska. Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman joined other governors along the pipeline route in condemning the Obama Administration decision.

The Obama Administration promised that if Keystone were to submit a new plan which rerouted the pipeline,  they would consider it. But, that would start the approval process all over again and mean more years of delay and more opportunities for radical environmentalists to kill the project.

Kill All Oil Development

The bottom line for environmentalists is to kill any new supply of fossil fuels and to restrict the use of existing supplies and make them more expensive in an attempt to force people to adopt more expensive, less efficient green alternatives.Writing at Forbes Magazine Warren Meyer describes this goal as "Voting for the Stone Age:"
The real goal of these groups was not to protect water along the pipeline route, but to make it impossible to develop new sources of oil in Canada. Unable to stop Canadian oil drilling and tar sand extraction programs, environmental groups are now trying to block any pipeline that is proposed out of the oil producing regions.

Some would argue that these opponents aren’t anti-energy, they just want to shift energy use from fossil fuels to “green” energy like wind and solar. This is either disingenuous or unbelievably naive. The Keystone XL pipeline would have single-handedly carried more energy to the United States than the sum of all the green energy projects funded by the Obama Administration. And it would have done so entirely with private funds rather than the Administrations increasingly ill-fated and ham-handed attempts at venture capitalism with taxpayer funds. The fact of the matter is that, for the foreseeable future, opposing fossil fuels is equivalent to opposing energy use.
Editorial opinion at many of the nation's newspapers has been scathing. But perhaps the best opinion came from columnist Robert Samuelson:
President Obama's rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico is an act of national insanity. It isn't often that a president makes a decision that has no redeeming virtues and -- beyond the symbolism -- won't even advance the goals of the groups that demanded it. All it tells us is that Obama is so obsessed with his re-election that, through some sort of political calculus, he believes that placating his environmental supporters will improve his chances.
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Now consider how Obama's decision hurts the United States. For starters, it insults and antagonizes a strong ally; getting future Canadian cooperation on other issues will be harder. Next, it threatens a large source of relatively secure oil that, combined with new discoveries in the United States, could reduce (though not eliminate) our dependence on insecure foreign oil.

Finally, Obama's decision forgoes all the project's jobs. There's some dispute over the magnitude. Project sponsor TransCanada claims 20,000, split between construction (13,000) and manufacturing (7,000) of everything from pumps to control equipment. Apparently, this refers to "job years," meaning one job for one year. If so, the actual number of jobs would be about half that spread over two years. Whatever the figure, it's in the thousands and important in a country hungering for work. And Keystone XL is precisely the sort of infrastructure project that Obama claims to favor.

The big winners are the Chinese. They must be celebrating their good fortune and wondering how the crazy Americans could repudiate such a huge supply of nearby energy.
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By law, Obama's decision was supposed to reflect "the national interest." His standard was his political interest.
President Obama who repeatedly invokes the phrase "we can't wait" in his push for more American jobs has pushed his own political considerations ahead of the national interest on jobs, energy independence and lower energy costs. USA Today summed this decision up in one sentence: "What's really going on here, of course, is the most craven sort of election-year politics."

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