It’s now been just over five years since TransCanada first filed an application for a presidential permit to build a cross-border pipeline, but that hasn’t done anything to temper the radical eco-lobbies’ relentlessly combative campaign based on nothing more than untenable arguments and outrageous outrage. Points for their steadfast commitment, I suppose, but those points are completely negated by these out-of-touch green groups’ and millionaire donors‘ refusal to contend with the facts that the southern portions of the Keystone pipeline are already in operation or nearly complete, that the pipeline will be used to ship domestic oil too, and that Canada is already finding other means to ship their resources in the absence of the pipeline’s northern extension. These self-proclaimed environmentalists are determined to block the (cleanest, safest, most efficient) path of least resistance with the biggest political hissyfit you’ve ever seen. A spectacular example of “cutting your nose of to spite your face,” truly.
Back in July, President Obama casually dropped what may-or-may-not have been a vague hint about what it would take for him to finally approve the longstanding project in an NYT interview: “I’m going to evaluate this based on whether or not this is going to significantly contribute to carbon in our atmosphere. And there is no doubt that Canada at the source in those tar sands could potentially be doing more to mitigate carbon release.” If Obama ever does end up approving this thing, he can’t just up and do it outright; he’d need some kind of political cover with which he could counter and assuage the rabid fury that many well-monied and Democrat-donating groups that would lunge at him, and perhaps a friendly, neighborly agreement with Canada with some kind of new climate regulations could be just the ticket for him.
It didn’t take long for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to drop a line to the White House wondering if “joint action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the oil and gas sector” between Canada and the United States could help grease the political skids for the president — but alas, the eco-radicals have made much too huge a public investment in turning Keystone XL into some kind of federal stake in the ground to allow that to happen. Ergo, they are letting the president know their feelings on such a transaction; from their letter, with 25 signatories including the League of Conservation Voters, 350.org, MoveOn.org, Greenpeace, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Friends of the Earth, and etcetera:
We are pleased to hear reports that Canadian officials may be considering new policies to mitigate global warming pollution from the oil and gas sectors. Increased regulation of these sectors is long overdue in both Canada and the U.S. in order to protect our communities and climate.
However, on behalf of our millions of members and supporters nationwide, we oppose any deal-making in return for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Our rationale is simple. Building Keystone XL will expand production in the tar sands, and that reality is not compatible with serious efforts to battle climate change.
While the tar sands industry makes claims of reducing the intensity of their emissions profile, in fact the absolute carbon pollution from the tar sands is rapidly increasing. The Harper government previously promised to take action to cut pollution across industry, but never followed through with its 2008 plan. Carbon pollution from the tar sands is now projected to be twice as high in 2020 as envisioned under that plan. Simple arithmetic shows that the only way to reduce emissions from the tar sands is to cap expansion where it is now and reduce production over the coming years.
That means rejecting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, a project that would enable the expansion of tar sands production. The tar sands pipeline and the carbon emissions it would generate are not in the national interest.
And, via WaPo, the Sierra Club is sending their own similar letter warning of a “backdoor bilateral agreement”:
Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, is sending a separate letter Tuesday making the same point.
“Mr. President, please do not make a bilateral agreement approving the Keystone XL based on the government of Canada’s mitigation promises,” Brune wrote. “While this may seem like a generous offer, Canada simply cannot mitigate the carbon pollution from the pipeline; those emissions would simply be too big. Keystone XL would be directly responsible for the equivalent annual emissions of 51 coal-fired power plants or 37.7 million cars. As a point of comparison, Canada has about 26 million cars on the road.”
Once more, with feeling: It is still profitable for Canada to develop their natural resources with our without our help, and they have every intention of doing so. Yes, Keystone XL might be the safest, least expensive, and most environmentally friendly way to do so, but it certainly isn’t the only way, and these groups’ fake argument that the United States has any real control over what Canada does with their oil in the world market is wishful thinking at best.