Forget the Keystone XL. Canada is considering building a giant tar sands oil pipeline through the Arctic.
Posts tagged tar sands.
The State Department is close to completing a draft of an environmental review that will help determine whether President Obama approves the Keystone XL pipeline, as environmental and energy industry groups sought to bolster their position with new information.Washington Post
Breaking! State Dept. quietly publishes long-awaited Keystone XL Pipeline Environmental Review. Click for PDF. ›
Next steps: Another round of public comments, then revisions to the EIS, then (I believe) to Obama’s desk for signature.
Canada’s War on Science, supremely covered by Al Jazeera. Note, too, that the Canadian government is purchasing and socializing oil companies(!).
Bring ‘em on. I’m a United States Marine. I’m not afraid of anyone. I’m not afraid of them,” he said. “When I’m done with them, they will know that they’ve been in a fight. I may not win, but I’m going to hurt them.Texas landowner Michael Bishop, who won a temporary injunction against Transcanada Keystone XL Pipeline. (H/T The People’s Record)
Now, mainstream media is (disingenuously and lazily, imo) drumming up speculation that the President might back out of approving the pipeline.
This is false. He’s already approved nearly half the line, and has clearly stated his intentions on signing the deal. Indeed, half the pipeline is nearly completely built and Obama toured construction and gave a support speech earlier this year:
“Today, we’re making this new pipeline from Cushing to the gulf a priority,” he said, while the northern portion requires additional review.
“But the fact is that my administration has approved dozens of new oil and gas pipelines over the last three years, including one from Canada,” Mr. Obama added. “And as long as I’m president, we’re going to keep on encouraging oil development and infrastructure, and we’re going to do it in a way that protects the health and safety of the American people.” Obama, March 2012. Via NYTimes.
Today, the media is intentionally ignoring his clear statements and unwavering intent. Why? Why is the media creating a false theater? Why would Obama (or any president) back-out of a $7 billion project halfway?
A recent article by USNews sums up the faux issue:
Obama is facing increasing pressure to determine the fate of the $7 billion Keystone XL project, with environmental activists and oil producers each holding out hope that the president, freed from the political constraints of re-election, will side with them on this and countless other related issues down the road.
Environmentalists have had very little success in stopping the line from being built. My best guess of what will happen:
- Obama approves the line quickly. He will restate his past comments, and remind us that the line is necessary. To my mind, this is most likely to happen. He’s simply waiting for an environmental assessment and species conservation reports. Once they’re complete, he’ll sign off on the second half of the line. Environmentalists will balk, and try to sue.
- Delay due to lawsuit. I doubt there is a strong enough case to be made against this pipeline. Despite the length, the project has a relatively small physical footprint. Environmentalists will most likely sue under either the Endangered Species Act or the Migratory Bird Treaty. It’s possible they’ll try to get an injunction against the DOI, but this is real big stretch. There are already thousands of miles of pipelines cross-crossing the US, Mexico, and Canada. So, they’d have to show this line is exceptionally special. Worse, for environmentalists wanting to sue, TransCanada has been working with the USFWS and DOI on bird and other endangered species conservation plans. In fact, a near final draft conservation plan was released in August, 2012 here (PDF).
- Obama may delay, but only to cow-tow to certain states, not environmentalist’s objections. To my mind, this is the least likely of the three scenarios. He’ll accept objections not from environmental groups, but from states like Nebraska worried about the impacts on the Ogallala Aquifer; or Texas, which is (superficially) concerned with giving private property away to a foreign company. However, these states have already filed their objections with the administration, and Obama jumped, delaying the line for up to a year. I do not see that happening again.
The pipeline is going to be built. Don’t let the press fool you.
The fact is that my administration has approved dozens of new oil and gas pipelines over the last three years, including one from Canada. And as long as I’m president, we’re going to keep on encouraging oil development and infrastructure, and we’re going to do it in a way that protects the health and safety of the American people.Obama, in a June ‘12 speech after approving the southern leg of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Did OnEarth just kill Susan Rice’s career? It’s been discovered that a large chunk of her personal wealth comes from extensive oil and gas investments, most notably in Canadian tar sands. Will liberals continue to defend her?
The Tangled Finances Of Susan Rice
Bitumen—the stuff extracted from tar sands—is nothing like its conventional crude counterpart. It’s thick and sticky, and has to be diluted to flow through pipelines. The chemical mixture used to dilute it is a trade secret, but often includes the human carcinogen benzene.
It’s nasty stuff. And now it has a NYT op-ed from my former boss at InsideClimate News, which heavily reported this particular aspect of the tar sands question before anyone was paying attention. From the op-ed:
[…]But this oil is no ordinary crude oil, and it carries with it risks that we’re only beginning to understand. Its core ingredient — bitumen — is not pumped from wells but is strip-mined or boiled loose underground.
[….]The nation’s pipeline network was designed to handle conventional crude oil and is governed by laws and regulations that were written long before the unique risks and hazards associated with dilbit began to emerge. In fact, dilbit is exempt from an excise tax that pays for oil spill cleanups, because the 1980 law that created the tax did not consider bitumen from the “tar sands” to be crude oil.
This is all very relevant to Enbridge—here’s some background on that.
An oil spill from a broken Enbridge Energy pipeline in Wisconsin has been contained, the company says, but it could not have come at a worse time for the Canadian company, which is trying to get approval for new pipelines in Canada and the United States. The 1,200 barrel spill happened on Friday near Grand Marsh in central Wisconsin, population 127. Enbridge Control Center operators shut down and isolated the line and deployed emergency crews to the site. Environment News Service (http://s.tt/1k2Gh)
Three journalists travel the length of the Keystone XL Pipeline properties, from Canada to Texas. Here is their report. ›
“This is not your typical summer road trip. Yes, we’re getting out the maps and fueling up the car. But we are going in search of a story about the very thing that makes such road trips possible: oil.
Our journey will take us the full length of the proposed route of the Keystone XL pipeline. We’ll begin with a visit to the oil sands in Alberta, then pick up the pipeline route, traveling down the spine of the country from Montana across the Great Plains to the Texas gulf coast.”
Hilarious “break-up” with Keystone XL Pipeline video. Recall that the pipeline would pump oil from Canada to Texas. Too bad the thing is nearly mostly approved.
Climate scientists tell state department to consider climate change impacts from Keystone XL Pipeline ›
“…hundreds of federal scientists in charge of environmental monitoring are being laid off as part of the 1,500 government professionals affected by Conservative budget cuts.
“Doctors, biologists, chemists are being shown the door. These scientists monitor environmental changes that can threaten the health of Canadians,” said MP Hélène LeBlanc…
“Prime Minister Harper has dropped any pretence that he cares about Canada’s natural environment, reducing the federal government’s oversight role to miniscule proportions,” said May, who represents British Columbia’s Saanich-Gulf Islands in Parliament.”