Obama on Keystone XL: This is just how we do things in the United States
posted at 5:21 pm on February 20, 2014 by Erika Johnsen
President Obama flew to Mexico yesterday for a conference with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Peña Nieto that was largely about energy issues, and you just know Harper was pushing Obama on the Keystone XL pipeline behind closed doors. In the joint presser, however, it was all the usual trite faux-pleasantries, via NJ:
Obama defended what has been a years-long federal review while acknowledging that Harper, who has been seeking approval of the pipeline for years, has chafed at the U.S. process.
“There is a process that has been gone through, and I know it’s been extensive, and at times I’m sure Stephen feels, a little too laborious. But these are how we make these decisions about something that could potentially have a significant impact on America’s national economy and our national interests,” Obama said. …
“So the State Department has gone through its review. There is now a comment period in which other agencies weigh in. That will be evaluated by Secretary of State Kerry, and we’ll make a decision at that point,” Obama said.
Let me go ahead and fix that for you.
“There is a process on which my administration has delayed and obfuscated as much as possible, and I know it’s been extensive, and I’m fully aware that Stephen is royally ticked off about the appalling way I’ve been treating him. But these are how we make wildly politicized decisions that about something that we have known for several years now would have a significantly positive impact on America’s national economy and our national interests. So the State Department has gone through its umpteenth review. There is now a comment period in which other agencies weigh in, that will then be evaluated by my out-of-touch loon of a secretary of State and myself. You will wait for our decision, and you will like it.”
I shudder to think about what the Obama administration might do with yesterday’s decision from a Nebraska judge invalidating the law that was used by the state government to approve the Keystone XL route. The state’s attorney general is already planning to appeal the ruling, but if the Obama administration can use it to further justify their interminable dithering, they will. I can hear it now: “Oh, man, we were totally, seriously just about to come to a decision, but if Canada has to re-propose their route for Nebraska’s approval again, we might have to have to start all over! What a shame!”
In other news from that joint press conference, a bunch of the companies that helped to spur the U.S. shale boom are looking to expand southward into Mexico — and Mexico is all for it. Their president wants to raise Mexico’s oil production to 3 million barrels a day by 2018, a a 25 percent increase from their production levels today, and they’d like help getting started on the shale drilling. There’s one huge, glaring problem standing in the way of that progress, though, via Quartz:
If all goes well, drillers responsible for a shale-oil bonanza in Texas will soon cross the southern US border and extend the hydraulic fracturing boom to Mexico. But first the Mexican government, foreign oil companies or some combination of the two will have to neutralize some of the most savage gangsters in the world. …
Trade rules will have to be relaxed to allow the US companies to quickly move labor and special equipment back and forth across the border when needed, experts here say. But more importantly, Peña has to deal with the Zetas and Gulf Cartel, two vicious drug- and gun-running gangs whose turf overlaps Mexico’s shale patch. Nabbings, extortion, murder and oil theft by the gangs have made US drillers—traditionally cavalier about violence in the areas where they work—wary of venturing into the shale-rich states of Tamaulipas, Coahuila and Nuevo Leon.