The eco-lobby is no less determined about stopping Keystone XL. Oddly, energy companies no less determined to develop oil sands.

posted at 9:21 pm on October 31, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

Legitimate question: What is it that eco-radicals are failing (refusing?) to grasp about the Keystone XL pipeline? As one wayward protester aptly demonstrated during President Obama’s zillionth speech trying to make the case for his signature legislative achievement on Wednesday, time (as in, five years) has done nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of their crusade against the extension of the already-existent southern portion of the pipeline, and yet their main point of contention is still the development of the Canadian oil sands — the transport of which part of the Keystone XL’s capacity will be dedicated.

The only (huge, glaring, obvious) problem with that argument, as oil and gas companies are already aptly demonstrating, is that those oil sands are going to be developed with or without Keystone XL, and in the meantime, companies are going with the less safe, less environmentally friendly transport options of rail, trucks, and tankers. Via the NYT (for goodness’ sake!):

Over the past two years, environmentalists have chained themselves to the White House fence and otherwise coalesced around stopping the Keystone XL pipeline as their top priority in the fight against global warming.

But even if President Obama rejects the pipeline, it might not matter much. Oil companies are already building rail terminals to deliver oil from western Canada to the United States, and even to Asia.

Since July, plans have been announced for three large loading terminals in western Canada with the combined capacity of 350,000 barrels a day — equivalent to roughly 40 percent of the capacity of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that is designed to bring oil from western Alberta to refineries along the Gulf Coast.

Over all, Canada is poised to quadruple its rail-loading capacity over the next few years to as much as 900,000 barrels a day, up from 180,000 today.

The only realistic thing the environmental lobby could possibly hope to achieve here is perhaps slightly slowing down the oil sands’ development, but in the meantime, they are actively incentivizing energy companies to go with the transport method that results in more spills and emissions expenditures. Why the disconnect? I suppose that, once they decided to make a huge stand on the issue, they can’t very well back off — the counterproductivity of their methods be damned.

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It’s either us or the Chi-Coms. Eco goofs prefer Chi-Coms. Go figure.

predator on October 31, 2013 at 9:31 PM

Why the disconnect? I suppose that, once they decided to make a huge stand on the issue, they can’t very well back off — the counterproductivity of their methods be damned.

The end justifies the lack of results!!!

Wait … What?

PolAgnostic on October 31, 2013 at 9:31 PM

War on Jobs? GOP, are you awake?

faraway on October 31, 2013 at 9:33 PM

Why the disconnect?

Because, like Obama, if they don’t acknowledge something, it doesn’t exist.

After all, who are you going to believe; your lying eyes when you see a train load of crude go up in flames, or your holding a sign saying “We stopped tar-sands development!”

GarandFan on October 31, 2013 at 9:43 PM

…at this point…

KOOLAID2 on October 31, 2013 at 9:46 PM

Warren Buffet?

wolly4321 on October 31, 2013 at 9:46 PM

Maybe the reason no one listens to you green-niks is ‘cuz you cry wolf so much. Remember the soon to be decimated caribou herds in Alaska that doubled, or the drowning polar bears whose populations are increasing?

antipc on October 31, 2013 at 9:49 PM

Liberals can’t build the version of healthcare, but they’d have you believe they can steer Earth’s climate.

They’re spinning the unspinnable with Obamacare – can you imagine trying to hold them accountable on the planet’s temperatures? Planet cooling? The program is working!! MOAR CARBON TAXES!!! Planet still warming?? Good start but we need to double our efforts!!

crrr6 on October 31, 2013 at 9:50 PM

Erika, sweetie,, it’s like this:

wolly4321 on October 31, 2013 at 9:52 PM

It’s the same “logic” that brings you gun buy-backs or that leads Detroit’s Police Department to shred guns seized from criminals rather than selling them to licensed dealers and using the proceeds to try to shore up the city’s bankrupt law-enforcement budget. Keeping the guns out of the hands of the law-abiding does nothing to reduce crime, yet the city insists on flushing millions of dollars in potential profit each year (while also paying the costs of the destruction) because of some “moral stand” based on false equivalence.

Socratease on October 31, 2013 at 9:59 PM

Reason they oppose
The Keystone XL Pipeline?
Is because they can.

Since the Keystone XL pipeline crosses an international boundary, the President and the State Department have a great deal of latitude in determining whether or not it will be built. So the enviro-weenies put pressure on this part of the project, because that is the part they can prevent by pressuring the President.

There is an evil genius to it. The Saudis are very clever about eliminating the competition…

Haiku Guy on October 31, 2013 at 10:22 PM

Let them keep up the protest.It keeps them tied to that issue.The oil company’s aren’t listening.The oil is going to move.There is money involved.The protesters can’t put 2 and 2 together.

docflash on October 31, 2013 at 10:31 PM

They hate civilization, and believe starving it (us) of energy will kill it (us). Leaving the world a pristine Eden for them to enjoy in splendid isolation, while they play with their Crackberries and IPads, and spend eternity arguing about which of them is The One Most Perfect Socialist And Defender Of Holy Mother Gaia.

The rest of us can just die, as far as they’re concerned.

I do not understand why everyone else has so much trouble figuring this out. In my experience, it is practically impossible to have a conversation with one of these people without being subjected to their “there are too many people” and “our technological society is killing Gaia” and “only the right people should be here” shibboleths. If you don’t bring it up, rest assured they will, especially if they think you are a fellow True Believer.

When someone keeps saying they want you gone, you’d best take them seriously. Especially if they have political clout.

clear ether


eon on October 31, 2013 at 10:48 PM

While a genuine concern for the environment, however mistaken, is the motivator for most of the rank-and-file of the environmental movement, the leadership is after bigger game. Notice that the solution to every single perceived problem or danger is more government control over the economy and private actions, even when such control has been demonstrated to be counterproductive.

The ultimate goal isn’t protecting the environment, that’s a sales gimmick to fill their ranks with enough citizens to make politicians take notice. The goal is power.

Which is why the environmental movement is fairly described as “watermelons” – green on the outside but red through and through.

Adjoran on November 1, 2013 at 5:32 AM

You are assuming that eco people have some logic…they don’t.

It’s whatever “grabs” them…

right2bright on November 1, 2013 at 8:07 AM

Over all, Canada is poised to quadruple its rail-loading capacity over the next few years to as much as 900,000 barrels a day, up from 180,000 today.

The Greenies love their choo-choo twains. Just ask Governor Moonbeam.

In reality, freight trains do have a place in a 21st century economy. They can transport solid merchandise over land using much less energy and more cheaply than trucks or planes.

But they are much less efficient and more accident prone than pipelines at transporting liquids (such as crude oil). One derailed tank car can spill as much as 100 tons of crude into the environment in a single day, while a leaky flange on a pipeline wouldn’t spill that much in a month.

The Keystone XL pipeline is projected to transport about 700,000 barrels per day (29.4 million gallons per day) of crude. Railway tank cars usually contain about 30,000 gallons each, meaning that about 980 railcars a day would be needed to transport the same amount of crude from Alberta to Texas (and returned empty) as the pipeline. What are the odds that one of them might derail sometime in a year, due to human errors, signaling errors, switching errors, or a car stalling on a grade crossing, or other such relatively frequent events?

But the Greenies don’t see that, because the railroads already exist, and it’s easier to protest against building something new than do away with something already built which has satisfied a useful need for decades.

Shhhh!!! Let’s keep importing Canadian crude by train, before the Greenies find out! I’m sure the railway freight companies won’t mind!

Steve Z on November 1, 2013 at 11:15 AM