Keystone decision: Voting for the stone age?
posted at 8:35 am on January 21, 2012 by Jazz Shaw
More than a few liberal voices are doing something of an end zone dance over the presumed demise of the Keystone XL pipeline. Of course, similar to a quip by Mark Twain, reports of its death may be greatly exaggerated, since President Obama’s decision left the door open for alternate proposals to be submitted. (The reality, of course, it that this likely gives him a chance to simply kill it entirely once he presumably wins a second term.) But the push to stop this also highlights a disturbing trend among domestic energy opponents, as highlighted by Warren Myer at Forbes Magazine. Are some of us voting for a return to the stone age?
Yesterday, as expected, President Obama rejected the Keystone XL pipeline, a private infrastructure project meant to bring Canadian oil to Gulf Coast refineries. In doing so, he was not quibbling over the pipeline’s route, but pandering to a group of his supporters who want nothing so much as to roll back modern industrial society…
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.
The Keystone decision only makes sense in the context of a general push to limit energy supply and roll back our industrial economy and all its amazing gifts.
Meyer likens pipeline opponents to global warming alarmists, finding each equally puzzling and ironic in the lengths they will go to in order to “prove” their point. One of the most recent objections to fracking, for example, is that it is causing earthquakes. (No, that’s not a link to The Onion. I’ll give you a moment to pick your jaws up off the floor and click through to the story. There are actually people saying this, oblivious to the fact that earthquakes are caused by shifts in the Earth’s tectonic plates.)
There seems to be no end to the arguments which can be made against industry, even if there is, as yet, no viable alternative to meet society’s energy needs. The only remaining alternative would be to return to some sort of hunter gatherer structure, which might cause problems for some of the green warriors. (The author notes the irony of this, saying, “I’m blogging against the modern economy from my iPhone”)
But it’s in the three postscripts to the article where Meyer truly gives us something to chew over. The first:
Does anyone doubt that had this exact same route been for high speed rail, rather than a pipeline, it would already have been approved and President Obama likely would have been proposing to throw a pile of taxpayer money at it to boot? This despite the fact that high-speed rail almost certainly has more environmental negatives than an underground pipeline.
His final point highlights the amazing reverse logic which seems to be in play here, once again comparing the Keystone XL project to California’s high speed rail line. In the latter, the White House is continuing to push a project which virtually nobody seemed to have wanted by tossing vast amounts of taxpayer money into a plan which seems almost predestined to fail. In the former, they are fighting tooth and nail to stop a project which would have been paid for by private investment and created jobs in states which desperately need them, costing the taxpayer nothing and resulting in a downstream flow of cash back into government coffers through increased commercial activity and employment.
What is to be gained from this general approach unless you’re actively looking to turn out the lights? And yet, in perhaps the greatest irony of all, the same week that Barack Obama rejected Keystone, his reelection team began running an advertising campaign touting his achievements in energy production. (Those of you tweeting this thread may now insert the #headdesk hash tag.)
Our friends at the Energy Tomorrow set the record straight on this bizarre claim. In a new study they commissioned, it was found that any advances on the domestic energy front took place in spite of Barack Obama’s energy policies, not because of them.
- New leases on federal lands were down 44% in 2009/2010 compared to 2007/2008.
- Permits and new wells drilled were both down 39% for the same time frame.
- The economic downturn in 2007 was a factor in this decline, but leasing, permitting and drilling have rebounded on private lands; the decline in new permits in the West is significantly greater on federal lands (-39%) than non-federal, private lands (-20%) over the last two years.
- Returning permitting, leasing and drilling to 2007/2008 levels would create 30,000 jobs over the next four years and increase federal royalties by $2 billion.
Federal policies – like slow permitting and leasing rates, and the outright rejection of the Keystone XL – are clearly slowing the development of vitally needed energy, and costing jobs, energy production and revenue to the government.