Keystone XL: Regardless of Delay, Oil’s Grip Stays Robust
When the State Department moved Thursday to postpone a choice on whether or not the Keystone XL oil pipeline serves the national pursuits of the United States — a query it has been weighing in one kind or one other for greater than three years — environmental teams found much to have a good time.
However additionally they certainly know that the dispute over Keystone XL — a proxy, actually, for broader and nonetheless unresolved debates over oil, climate change and power policy in America — is removed from over, not least because the delay was rather more about political expediency than it was about environmental due 4500 square 2205 heat exchanger process. As much as the rest, delaying the decision till after the 2012 presidential election means that the United States is far farther away from a consensus on clear power than anybody needs to admit. Given the global thirst for oil and the lack of clear a by product of petroleum refining policies that would begin to make carbon pollution a more expensive affair, it additionally seems certain that growth of Canada’s planet-warming oil patch will proceed — with Keystone XL or without it.
The Keystone XL challenge, proposed in 2008 by the Calgary-based mostly pipeline builder TransCanada as a conduit linking a quick-rising, environmentally controversial, and carbon-intensive oil deposit in Alberta to a fleet of refiners on the Texas Gulf Coast, will bear at the very least another year of scrutiny, federal officials mentioned last week. The nominal reason for the delay: It offers the State Division, which is saddled by a 1968 government order with permitting authority over infrastructure initiatives that cross a U.S. border, extra time to discover different routes in Nebraska. Residents and legislators in that state have vigorously objected to the pipeline’s presently deliberate route, which might take it straight by way of the grassy, groundwater-rich dunes known as the Sand Hills.
Assuming a brand new route around this sensitive space could be agreed upon — a course a by product of petroleum refining of that is expected to take till the early months of 2013 — State Division officials, with enter from other agencies, would then consider the larger position the Keystone XL venture would play in the national interest. “Among the many related points that can be thought-about are environmental issues — together with local weather change,” the State Department mentioned in issuing its choice Thursday, in addition to “power security, financial impacts, and overseas coverage.”
Of course, these are presumably all points that the State Department has been deliberating for the last three years, so pipeline supporters have been flummoxed, maybe justifiably, by the decision for more time.
But President Obama was clearly in a pickle. Rejecting the pipeline outright would risk the wrath of the deep-pocketed oil and gas industries, commerce unions and different supporters of the venture who argued strongly that the mission represented tens of 1000’s of American jobs and a stable, friendly provide of oil. Jack Gerard, the president and chief executive of the American Petroleum Institute, had warned of “political consequences” if the pipeline weren’t accepted.
Approving it, then again, ran the danger of basically alienating these environmentally-minded voters who played a large position in sweeping Obama into workplace in 2008. “We do not assume that we’ll be able to successfully mobilize our members till the president keeps his promise to combat climate change effectively and stand up to massive polluters and to protect public well being,” Sierra Membership Govt Director Michael Brune said in a phone call with reporters late last month.
And so, as some observers have put it, Obama punted. The move offers short-term succor to greens and, Obama’s advisers would presumably hope, solely a mild case of heartburn to the fossil gas industry and its supporters who, while certainly disenchanted, nonetheless have a pipeline proposal out there to foyer for.
In a telephone name with reporters late Thursday, Kerri-Ann Jones, the assistant secretary of the State Department’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, which is overseeing the permitting course of, insisted that the decision was not a political one, and that it rested solely with her agency. “The White House didn’t have something to do with this decision, besides we consulted with them as soon as we had been transferring toward it,” Jones said. “But they didn’t direct us to make this choice or — that is — this authority is delegated to the Secretary of State through the executive order.
“It was our decision,” she added.
Virtually nobody among the pipeline’s supporters believed this.
“There is no such thing as a real difficulty concerning the surroundings that requires additional investigation, because the president’s own State Department has recently concluded after extensive undertaking opinions that return more than three years,” declared Gerard, the president of the American Petroleum Institute. “This is about politics and holding a radical constituency opposed to any and all oil and fuel improvement within the president’s camp in November 2012.”
Although he differed within the particulars, Noah Greenwald, the endangered species director at the middle for Biological Range, also took umbrage at what he noticed as pure political jockeying on Obama’s half. “This is not a game of sizzling potato,” he stated. “Keystone XL shouldn’t be authorized beneath any circumstances.”
Whether TransCanada’s project will live long sufficient to see State make a final determination is unclear. The corporate will want to search out methods to weather the losses it will incur for having signed contracts a by product of petroleum refining and issued procurement orders based on a schedule now rendered moot. TransCanada executives have steered that the delays will value them upwards of $1 million a day — although Russ Girling, the corporate’s chief executive, stated final week that his company, whereas frustrated, could be ready it out.
If that proves so, then among the many very first issues to be confronted by a newly reelected Obama — or by his Republican replacement — will nonetheless be whether or not or not to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. And even when the Keystone XL mission bites the mud, efforts to attach the tar sands of Alberta to the global oil market, both by means of the Gulf of Mexico or the Pacific Coast of British Columbia, will nearly definitely continue.
“Whereas the United States seeks ‘safety of oil provide,’ Canadian oil sands producers and governments search ‘safety of oil demand,’ ” said Jackie Forrest, a Calgary-based vitality market analyst with the consultancy IHS CERA, in an e-mail memo on Friday. “Canada is more likely to intensify its efforts to export oil to Asia. In the past few years, Asian companies have invested over $10 billion dollars in oil sands — the vast majority coming from China. Asia affords Canada the ‘security of demand’ it seeks, by way of the mix of funding dollars and a rising appetite for oil.”
As if on cue, Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, has already pointed Asia’s means. The State Division resolution to delay Keystone XL, Harper was quoted by Reuters as saying during this weekend’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation discussion board in Honolulu, “does underscore the necessity of Canada ensuring that we are capable of entry Asia markets for our energy merchandise. That will likely be an necessary precedence of our authorities going ahead and that i indicated that yesterday to the president of China.”
Forrest also recommended that while green groups may reasonably have a good time a political triumph in final week’s State Division decision, stalling — and even killing — the Keystone XL venture is a little more like Whac-A-Mole than any of them would like to admit. “The delay to Keystone XL,” she said, “will increase the chance that different pipeline solutions to bring oil sands to new U.S. markets will move ahead.”
She pointed to one potential substitute from TransCanada competitor Enbridge, which is busy cobbling together plans to hyperlink up present pipelines in the U.S. and Canada in such a method as to provide producers in the Alberta tar sands the access to Gulf Coast refineries and ports that they so desperately search. Such efforts wouldn’t require a nettlesome presidential permit since the company would merely be re-purposing a border-crossing pipeline it already owns.
Larry Springer, a spokesman for Enbridge, instructed that as such, his company’s proposal could avoid the outcry that has to date hobbled Keystone XL. “We can be kind of following current pipelines and existing routes,” he stated, “so we hope it will be similar to any other undertaking.”
That could be wishful thinking. More than 1,000 Individuals engaged in acts of civil disobedience — and had been promptly arrested — in protests towards the Keystone XL at the White Home in August. More than 10,000 demonstrators descended on Washington once more simply every week earlier than the State Department decided to carry off on a call. “This could turn into really the subsequent massive struggle right here,” mentioned Damon Moglen, a the climate and vitality undertaking director with Associates of the Earth, of Enbridge’s undertaking.
Perhaps so, but stanching America’s huge thirst for oil would require a way more mainstream effort. People presently slurp up 18 million barrels per day, roughly a quarter of the global total. Well over half of that’s imported. Currently, most projections present that whereas American demand is unlikely to grow a lot over the next few decades, it is also not prone to drop — at the least not without serious policy changes designed to encourage the event of cleaner options.
The Obama administration’s determination to punt the Keystone XL decision down the road highlights just how far environmentalists nonetheless have to go to get the country focused on clean energy policies.
“Having received this a part of the battle, let’s take a deep breath and remind ourselves that we’re actually simply getting started,” the Sierra Membership’s Michael Brune wrote final week after the State division announcement. “Because we have not yet defeated the pipeline for good. And defeating the pipeline isn’t even our highest aspiration. This motion is much larger than simply concerning the tar sands.