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Obama Punts on Keystone XL Pipeline Decision

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Obama Punts

President Barack Obama says he promotes job creation. And he says he promotes environmental issues. Labor unions support the Keystone XL pipeline because of the jobs it would create. But environmentalists and anti-Big Oil groups oppose its extension. So Obama now finds himself between a rock and a hard place.  Both groups, labor unions and environmentalists, are very big Obama supporters. What now is Obama to do? On Thursday, November 10, 2011, Obama dodged a sensitive situation by deferring the decision on extending TransCanada’s Keystone XL Pipeline. Yesterday Obama punted. He delayed the decision by supporting the State Department’s move to “seek additional information about the Keystone XL Pipeline proposal.” Russ Girling, TransCanada’s president and CEO, says, “Keystone XL is shovel-ready.”

Obama Passes Decision To Clinton

The State Department announced a review of alternative routes before deciding whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. White House spokesman Jay Carney announced the project’s fate rests with the State Department. “This is a decision that will be made by the State Department,” Carney told reporters. Because Obama is Hillary’s boss, he will make Clinton take the Keystone XL hit.

Jobs vs Environmentalism

TransCanada Corporation, the Keystone XL project owner, estimates that 20,000 jobs can be created from the pipeline itself over the two-year project development period. Further, local businesses will benefit from the 118,000 jobs that will be produced along the pipeline route.

Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org said, “If we go ahead and build this stupid pipeline, there is no way that we will ever in this country be able to ask anyone, in China or anyplace else, to do the right thing on climate.” James Hansen, climate scientist, told the rally in Washington D.C. that the tar sands are the “critical juncture” in our struggle against “fossil fuel addiction.” Peter Wilk, executive director of Physicians for Social Responsibility, said that the pipeline will, “deepen our dependency on oil, contributing to ever worsening climate chaos. Extreme weather events of the past year are not mere coincidence. They are part of an alarming pattern of worsening hurricanes, heat waves, snow storms, flooding…”

As always, I invite readers who differ with me to offer specific links to refute points made in this article. Who knows, after reading your links I may see things more clearly.

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  • Igor

    You must be talking about a different EPA than the one I’m familiar with. Your EPA looks like something that’s easy to beat up: like a strawman EPA. You know, an EPA that you’ve invented with invented flaws so that you can beat it up good.

    I am familiar with quite a different EPA. The EPA that I know made tremendous difference in emitted smog here in Santa Clara Valley. I remember 1969 when the smog was so thick that the palm trees along Alma avenue were just gray ghosts when I drove to work. The east bay mountains were invisible all summer long. We got occasional views during the winter, on days it rained. Many days the smog was so bad that it stung your eyes and throat just to breath the air. Vigorous exercise was discouraged by Health Authorities. People and companies dumped trash into the bay anywhere they wanted just by following any road to the waters edge. The bay itself was a fetid sewer, the result of decades of abuse and neglect.

    I figured that I would have to leave within five years because of the horrible degeneration of the environment. I told my friends that people wouldn’t reduce their smog emissions until the air was so bad that even their cars wouldn’t run. And they nodded in agreement.

    I’d already been thru the ruination of my childhood town as the new atomic energy plant polluted the once pristine little river with overheated exhaust water, killing the fish I fished for, and destroying the grouse habitat I had hunted in.

    And no one said a thing. Everyone thought that it was Good And Right that industry destroy the environment for a few local jobs (and a lot of money sent back east to corporate headquarters).

    But the EPA changed all that. The EPA not only stopped the degeneration, but it reversed most of the damage. Now, I talk to fishermen who regularly catch sturgeon in the bay and take it home for dinner. Just like their grandfather did. I talk to biologists regularly who tell me the water is free of heavy metals, formerly a big source of food danger, and that the remaining metals are deeply buried in the sedimentation column. Local agencies and private contractors constantly measure and monitor water quality. The damaged shorelines are being rehabilitated into tule and cordgrass marshes, with carefully planned combinations of fresh, salt and brackish marshes. Sewage plants now produce only tertiary treated water and dry sterile compost.

    All this and more is the result of EPA action. Had the old ways continued, the Free Market would have demanded the utter destruction of the environment in the pursuit of profits.

    I think the EPA is great. And so does my old hunting buddy, Tom, from our old hunting and fishing days back in the 50s. He’s lived on our old fishing river for many years now, and his sons were privileged to grow up fishing the same river and hunting the same fields that we had seen destroyed. The EPA is responsible.

    I don’t think you know much at all about the EPA, Cannonshop. I think you just make things up to suit your political disposition.

  • Cannonshop

    I think I’ll add one more qualifier, Glenn…

    4) Enforcement should not be a means of revenue generation, unless that is the agency in question’s primary purpose. (the “Speeding ticket” rule)
    I use speeding tickets as my example for a reason: Speed limits are there for public safety, right? so why is it that the Public violates (regularly) the speed limit? Because the Public Perception is that the limits are there to raise revenue, not to make the roads safer.
    A Ten-Grand fine for leaked oil isn’t cleaning up the damage from the leak, it’s raising revenue for the general fund, there is, therefore, a motive to allow rulebreaking-because then, it can be unevenly enforced to raise hard cash for the government. This is something that is especially prevalent in our “Environmental” agencies, agencies that do not develop means to clean up damage, they just levy fines after accidents or incidents, or when someone needs a new pair of shoes,or wants to look ‘tough’ on environmental issues. EPA ruling CO2 a “Pollutant” basically invented a way to coin money for the Government, it’s unenforceable, compliance with zero-emissions is literally impossible (nobody’s invented a working Zombie virus yet-even employees will generate CO2, ditto for animals, and trees do it too…at night, when the photosynthesis shuts down.) Fining someone for “Polluting” however, is NOT impossible.

    Speeding ticket-see?

  • Cannonshop

    #18 Glenn, regulation applied intelligently and achievably, and evenly, is fine. Special Exemptions, slack enforcement, or regs that are impossible to achieve are NOT fine.

    Neither are “Micromanaging” regs that are applied across the board to several industries, but only actually matter in a handfull of sites. I work in an industry that is, (thank Ghod) tightly, heavily, and INTELLIGENTLY regulated by the FAA. The Regs we work under are written by engineers IN THE FIELD OF AERONAUTICS, which makes them a damsight better than Environmental Regs written by people who never leave a desk except to attend rallies (EPA).

    When an agency has the power to write regulations that carry the force and threat of law, I believe there needs to be a simple balance-those regs had better be three things:

    1)Achievable. that is, the reg must be something that makes sense to comply with, can be complied with, and has measurable positive impact when complied with, under standards that are ‘fixed’, as in not moving or changing with the tides of popular opinion. this includes NOT mandating vaporware technologies or redundant, non-contributing systems when the stated intended outcome is engineered by repeatable means in some other way. European smog regs are tougher than American, but European Cars have to be retrofitted to pass American smog-regs, which insist on gear, rather than outcome.
    If a car without a Cat Convertor and smog pump can pass an emissions sniff-check, then maybe the convertor and smog pump are redundant, and shouldn’t be required-so long as the vehicle itself burns ‘clean’, see?

    2) Enforceable. this is another tough one for a lot of would-be regulators to understand, if you can’t enforce your rule due to practical or legal issues, or if you dread going into a Federal Courtroom with a judge who doesn’t like you/is a noted Conservative, then maybe you need to re-evaluate your rules-making mechanism. IF your agents don’t know, fully, and fully understand the rules and codes they are enforcing (See: IRS), then maybe the place to apply some Regulatory Heat is internal to the AGENCY itself. An agent can’t inspect or enforce a rule they’re not fully cognizant of, and it’s wrong to ask them to do so, further, if the rules are too arcane, too complex, with too many “If/Then” exemptions? They encourage BREAKING the rules. The drilling rig that ruptured a few years ago in the Gulf had a complex, complicated, detailed safety manual-that even the guy tasked with enforcing said manual didn’t fully know or understand. Horizon ruptured and people died because the rulebook wasn’t enforceable, and the rules were, therefore, un-enforced. You served at sea, you KNOW sailors don’t consciously violate rules that they understand will keep them alive-but when the rules are arbitrary, and arbitrarily enforced in a whimsical and uneven fashion, how often are they going to be able to no-bullshit the way to complying with the right rules?

    3)Evenly enforced. A two-horse private aircraft maker at Arlington Airport, or the Boeing Company plant at Everett, both comply with the same FAA guidelines, both are inspected to the same ruleset, both have to comply with the same over-all regulation, and the regulations scale, so Boeing doesn’t have an unfair advantage in either compliance, or NON compliance that can be used to choke out competitors.

    (mind, this is ONLY discussing FAA. When it comes to EPA and other agencies, the comply/non-comply financial decision is much easier for Boeing, than it is for, say, Glassair, our two examples in the same basic industry. EPA in particular is far more likely to levy a fine that does real damage to Glassair than the million or so dollars a day Boeing pays out in fines does to Boeing. Not because Glassair is dirtier, but because they’re much closer to the margin.)

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Warren –

    As always, I invite readers who differ with me to offer specific links to refute points made in this article. Who knows, after reading your links I may see things more clearly.

    I’ve seen no such indication that you will do so – particularly since you seem inclined to use as references sites that strongly skew the story to the right and don’t even attempt to maintain a sense of objectivity or journalistic integrity.

    No, I see no likelihood that you’ll significantly change your mind on any particular issue. And before you go claiming that I’m somehow just as bad, you should be aware that I’ve made it a point that whenever I’m wrong on any issue large or small, I publicly admit it and sincerely thank the person who proved me wrong. I’ve done this quite a few times on BC…

    …so when you say you’ll “see things more clearly”, no, I don’t think you will – and I will not think otherwise until I actually see you own up to being wrong about something you’ve written here.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Cannonshop –

    Impressive rant – and I mean that. And having spent some time as MMOW operating a 1200 PSI steam plant on the Ranger, I can wholeheartedly back up what you said about the challenges and danger of working with HP steam. But I often miss it, listening to the cacophony of the machinery, the changes whenever the ship changed speed, or whenever a plane was launched from the steam-powered catapults. You operate a steam plant not only by watching the gages, but by listening to the plant, for every little change to the pitch of of every turbine and pump in the plant meant something.

    And I take particular interest with your comment since during the shore duty I was assigned after my tour on the Ranger, I worked with OSHA at NAS Whidbey. Yes, OSHA…and I spent quite a bit of time learning how to use a 29 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) in our safety inspections of the squadrons and remote sites. Just to let you know, this was back in the days when I was still a solid Republican, and so were both my bosses, one who was retired Army, the other a retired Marine. They were NOT liberal in any sense of the word, though they worked for a government agency that many conservatives would gladly consign to the round file.

    That said, I see that you didn’t necessarily complain about the necessity of the regulations themselves. Does this mean you see the need for comprehensive federal regulation of industry even though most of the GOP candidates want to throw the regulation baby out with the agency bathwater?

    One more thing – you compared opposition to fracking almost to a cult. Are you really unaware of the problems caused by fracking…like a series of localized 5.0+ earthquakes in Arkansas that started not long after the fracking started…and stopped as soon as the fracking stopped?

  • Cannonshop

    Igor, have you ever actually had to do an environmental impact statement, land survey, or had the joyful experience of doing the preparation work needed just to drill a simple water well? Forget deep-drilling, which is both an art, and science, for a moment.

    Most of the cost of just punching a WATER well is in compliance costs and remediation fees, and it requires an extensive environmental impact statement.

    For Geothermal, add about twenty layers of permit process and three to five (depending on where you are) layers of government to go to, not including the side-trips to departments that copy one another at each level.

    Just to be PERMITTED to drill costs a lot of money, when it comes time to line up the equipment, you go into a whole ‘nother stew costs, and we haven’t gotten to the part where we’re injecting water into the hole yet.

    A deep-drill rig isn’t something you pick up on Craigslist or E-Bay for a couple grand. The pipe-liners aren’t something you’re going to buy at your local hardware store either, and you need them to keep the hole from collapsing in on itself at depth.

    Mind that you still have to do SOMETHING with the material you’re removing from your hole-and local, county, state, and Federal agencies will all have their OWN ideas on what you need to do with it to comply with the law-and the deeper you have to drill to reach “The heat” the more interested, and interesting, their requirements and inspections are going to get-including agencies you probably haven’t considered, like your OSHA rep, and his or her State-Level colleague (here in Washington, that would be WSHA), County usually has someone looking in too…Not to mention Labour and Industries (you’re not going to manage it with just you, the wife and the kids. The gear alone requires skilled experts to run, and appropriate insurance, including worker’s safety and material insurance on the rig itself).

    and we’re still drilling, okay? Not even put in a drop of water or hooked up a single turbine.

    Now, let’s say you reach your depth.

    Are you aware that Magma layers aren’t constant, that it shifts? and that it flows, and that it’s not a steady-state? Means you need your lava-bed level to be either fairly broad/large, or you’re not going to stay in business long-and if it shifts, guess what?

    You’re going to go through all the same permitting and insurance processes AGAIN, plus EPA won’t let you leave the hole open-you’re going to need to fill it with concrete, much like a fair number of old oil wells in the Oklahoma/Kansas area had to back in the seventies when they were taken out of production.

    Now, the fundamental difference between a gas/oil well, and a GT well…

    Paying off your notes is easier with Gas/oil than with Geothermal-you’re usually not drilling as deep, for one, for two, the per-unit price you can get for what comes up the well takes care of most of your operating costs at a profit-which you don’t have with GT, because GT is a pressurized system at heat-Steel works fine for Oil or Natural gas lines, it doesn’t do so well wiht pressurized steam lines, for that you need STAINLESS steel-which is considerably more expensive, and you’re still going to be replacing it rather regularly (“Stainless” isn’t, it’s just RESISTANT to Corrosion. Hot steam will gobble it just fine, thanks, which also pumps up your insurance wrt both equipment, and your employees, unless you’re one of those douchebags who won’t foot the bill to take care of your people, in which case, you’re probably only going to be operating in the Deep Southeastern U.S.)

    The reason is that steam lines are frikking dangerous. Some time talking to boilerhouse workers might tell you that, if you bother to listen. Hell, power-plants in general are dangerous, but steam-driven ones have some really exciting ways to maim and kill the folks who work on them. OSHA has LIBRARIES of info on that.

    Like ANY power generation, it’s not simple, it’s not cheap, and your ‘fracking’ issue is the LEAST of the issues involved.

    The MAIN issue, remains cost, or more specifically two costs:

    1. the cost of the rig itself
    2. Operating costs.

    If your electricity-generation capacity can not produce megawattage marketable above your cost line, your project is a FAILURE-you need to go above, to pay off the loans and absorb incidental costs (like, say, some “Friends of the Earth” burning part of your site down, Labor difficulties in Union states, or sabotage in NON union states, major breakage of equipment, and earthquake damage, or sudden drops in the market price that will stabilize upward in a short period of time.)

    None of which takes into account the humour of Mother Nature and Mister Murphy’s laws.

    I’m not saying don’t do it, but ghods, could you at least approach it with a realistic, as opposed to idealistic, mindset? It’s NOT a cure-all, or a cornucopia, it’s one of MANY technologies, and it’s not ‘suppressed by oil’, no collusion there is necessary-it’s held back by what holds back EVERY major undertaking- the price of doing business versus the benefits realized often make other methods (including coal and oil) more competitive-some of that price of doing business, is levied by the very same agencies and organizations whose proclaimed purpose for existing would be served by NOT levying those costs-call it the “Perversity of Human Nature” cost-which, if you’ve managed to slog through the above diatribe, is harped on because unlike other costs (Labor, equipment, real-estate, Operations), it’s one that, were there political will, could be reduced or even eliminated, being as it’s not dictated BY the market, but TO the market by what are ostensibly the People’s Representatives.

    I didn’t bring up the other Regulatory cost-the cost of complying with Regulatory CHANGES-which happen, sadly, far more often and with far fewer reasons, than earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, or Wars. The movement of a comma can cost the operator of a power plant hundereds of thousands of dollars a year (or millions, depending), because it changes the entire meaning of the text of the regulation-which regulation is NOT reviewed by the elected body that allegedly oversees the agency writing the reg, unless there’s a lawsuit, or someone actually dies as a result of the change.

    (the somebody dead part only works if it’s on live television or repeatedly on prime time teevee.)

  • Igor

    The water used by GT is recycled, and it’s easy.

    The biggest knock against GT is that it probably exacerbates earthquake activity (cf. Swiss studies at Basel). In that it is like fracking for gas and oil. But you can drill the holes where you need to put the power plant..

    It’s true that oil and LPG provide good portability options, so that provides incentives to reduce portability requirements. In other words, reduce fossil fuel requirements for fixed power stations to leave more available for trucks, etc.

  • Have you ever heard the expression that something would be like “carrying coal to Newcastle?”
    Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, I rest my case.


  • Cannonshop

    Doc, you have to understand- I Like geothermal. In favour of it. Think there needs to be more…

    But the economic realities have to include the constant externalities that we as a society are unwilling to do away with. The investment to get reliable sourcing for a GT plant in, say, mid-Kansas or Michigan, where the crust is nice and thick, drives the material cost up a lot. easily accessable sites are often in areas that “nature lovers” will throw a fit, and NO, Doc, it’s NOT constant. Review the Technology. Most Geothermal relies on a process very similar to fracking for natural gas-a practice that already has a huge cult of opposition.

    I just found Igor’s assertions to be…somewhat too idealistic? It ain’t cheap, it ain’t simple, but if it’s done right, it IS reliable. Oversimplifying any solution leads to unintended consequences, and unexpected barriers (many of which are seemingly produced by spontaneous generation from our rich Protest-Culture in this country, and their Lawyers…especially the lawyers.)

  • the depth where you’re getting heat in a lot of the continent is a LOT deeper than the depth you’re getting oil, even in the areas where oil’s really tough to get.

    That must be why oil companies are now regularly drilling holes like this one.

    The other difference is portability-you can ship oil by pipeline, truck, ship, etc. from where it’s gathered to where it’s needed/wanted, you can store it.

    Petroleum products still have to be burned in a stationary power plant in order to produce electricity. Energy sources like geothermal don’t have to be stored, as their availability is constant.

    Kind of beside the point anyhow. By comparing apples to oranges, you’re avoiding the paradox, which is that we don’t hear nearly as many objections from your side of the aisle on the basis of the increasingly difficult technical challenges of extracting crude oil as we do when it comes to “alternative” sources.

  • Cannonshop

    The fundamental problem, is that the cost of the Lawyer you need for any drilling, dam, or Nuclear power project exceeds your other costs, and if the price of electricity goes down as a result of your efforts, you’re not going to be able to stay in business.

    OTOH, Oil and Gas can be stored and sold to do OTHER things. Both crude and Natural GAs provide critical chemical feedstocks to a wide variety of other industries, and your cost issue goes down the longer an oil or gas well stays in production. OTOH, a stationary power-plant is basically restricted to the distance over the lines you can send the power before it degrades due to resistivity in the wires. One of the reasons that authorities feel comfortable breaching Hydroelectric dams and NOT replacing them, is that the dams in question are too far from a major customer base-it costs too much to send the juice down the wires relative to the benefit on the other end.

  • Cannonshop

    #9 Doc, the depth where you’re getting heat in a lot of the continent is a LOT deeper than the depth you’re getting oil, even in the areas where oil’s really tough to get.

    The other difference is portability-you can ship oil by pipeline, truck, ship, etc. from where it’s gathered to where it’s needed/wanted, you can store it.

    Neither is true of GT Steam. Where you punch your hole is where you build your powerplant, kind of similar to gravity-feed Hydroelectric that way. The best areas to drill for Geothermal aren’t where your peak demand is, and many of the very best areas would get you (or any other potential Geothermal Developer) Lynched by the Environmentalists for proposing the drill-site.

    #10 Igor, are you familiar with the concept of “Environmental Impact” and “Cost to Benefit Ratio”? Yeah, eventually you keep digging anywhere, you’ll find heat. It’s getting that heat to produce energy in a useable form that is the problem. For getting enough heat to equal or exceed the cost of digging the original hole, you need shallow-running magma, to produce enough to make your site worth establishing, it also needs a fairly close source of water that someone else isn’t using, and it’s got to be both enough of a source to justify the cost (i.e. it won’t ‘cool down’ and require another hole-shot for a while).

    Stirling Engines are nice toys, I’ve played with them, but that’s really all they are.


    When you’re talking about drilling for steam, you need enough steam to turn TURBINES, big ones, with lots of torque, that can turn generators that will produce enough Megawattage to pay for your Environmental Impact Fees, Drilling crew, Liners, Equipment, the real-estate, and the lawyer that keeps the “Green Energy” favoring “Environmentalists” from suing you into the poorhouse for punching holes in mother gaia.

  • Igor

    GT is optimized by shallow magma, but it’s not required.

    The New Madrid faultline is in the midwest, pretty close (paradoxically) to the XL route.

    You can drill down almost anywhere and get GT heat and employ it in low-grade heat devices such as Stirling engines.

  • Geothermal requires access to a source of geological heat, Igor-which, believe it or not, isn’t universal at depths it’s practical to drill down to.

    Not exactly true. It is perfectly feasible to extract geothermal energy from rocks that don’t have a shallow volcanic heat source, although it becomes necessary to drill to a greater depth and with less efficiency.

    But it’s funny how these kinds of barriers render a proposal totally impractical when we’re talking about geothermal yet become perfectly surmountable when it’s oil we’re after.

  • Cannonshop

    #6 Geothermal requires access to a source of geological heat, Igor-which, believe it or not, isn’t universal at depths it’s practical to drill down to.

    You need shallow-running magma, such as you find in active fault lines, to make it work. that said, you could set up a pretty decent GT plant anywhere on the West Coast, or in certain areas of the Rockies, but unless you’re planning to drill the New Madrid faultline, it’s pretty tough to find a good spot to set up a GT plant in the Midwest, and you can forget most of the East Coast.

    Best areas for it are, paradoxically, in ‘national Monuments’ like Yellowstone-good luck getting THAT through Congress without getting your house burned down by the Sierra Club.

  • Igor

    “There is a considerable amount of patenting done in the area of clean energy systems both in the USA and abroad. ”

    I can only assume that you mean so-called “Clean Coal”, which is an attempt to sequester carbon dioxide produced by burned coal (there is NO such thing as clean coal. We don’t send coal miners into the mines with instructions to mine only the clean white coal instead of the dirty black coal!).

    Burned coal produces carbon monoxide, which is an outright poison (for example, people burn charcoal in a closed room to commit suicide), and carbon dioxide, which is not a poison, as such, but is a suffocant, it kills by displacing air (for example, there are valleys on the slopes of Kilimanjaro which are lush in vegetation but deadly to animals because of CO2 captured from the volcano). It is the danger of suffocation that caused Florida to ban CO2 sequestration.

    All “Clean coal” proposals involve CO2 sequestration (there is one attempting to proceed in Germany), whereby one pumps the CO2 deep underground.

    IMO it’s never going to pass muster.

    As an aside, if we are willing to drill holes deep into the earth for CO2 sequestration and/or oil fracking (hydrofractionating) or tar sands recovery, then it makes far more sense to use those holes for Geothermal power (already the biggest source in California for alternative electrical power!) which has benign side-effects, EXCEPT for the possibility of earthquakes, which ALL fracking is subject to!

    Geothermal just involves sending water deep underground to be heated by hot rocks, then running the resultant steam through turbines. Nothing could be more simple and direct. But it fails to prop up sunset energy monopolies in coal and oil so it gets rejected politically. In fact, it never gets discussed in the press. Too dangerous.

  • Igor

    I´m against the XL pipeline on National Security and financial grounds (I also believe that the jobs projections are grossly exaggerated, and are characterized by double-counting, but I´ll leave that for another day).

    XL is bad for national security because it does little to alleviate our energy problems. We must look elsewhere for energy sources that will layoff against oil requirements.

    All oil is fungible. Every American should have that written across the inside of his windshield so he can read it everyday driving into work. All oil extracted from the earth is interchangeable once it is extracted. It does not bear a brand, as a cow might. All oil goes into a common virtual pool. There is no way, for example, to sequester oil for domestic use, and even if a nation were to attempt to do so by military means the attempt would be subverted by shifts in the international oil market, which are basically a (close to ) ideal free market. Thus, Ghaddafi of Libya, whose country has prodigious reserves of oil, could NOT subsidize cheap petrol for Libyans by sequestration, but only by granting huge subsidies to drivers to counteract high pump prices (as determined by free international markets). Of course, the money to do that derived from relatively high crude prices to the fungible international market.

    Every barrel of oil (from whatever source, since oil is fungible) from Canadian tar sands will go 80% to foreigners! Only 20% will benefit US consumers! That´s because the US only uses 20% of all oil drilled anywhere. China uses about 30%, and I can´t recall what India uses (it´s easily available on the EIA website). But both of those countries are using a higher percentage every year, while our percentage decreases. Therefore, the future benefits of more oil will fall more and more to foreigners.

    Oil companies are 60% owned by foreigners. The stocks are publicly traded on international markets. Therefore, when we subsidize an oil company by $50billion it represents a $30billion savings to foreign investors. That´s $30billion less capital they need to put in.

    The oil companies, Chevron, Exxon, Valero, pay zero corporate taxes while getting high profits. That´s another subsidy that goes 60% to foreign investors.

    The USA will certainly be required to provide direct and indirect subsidies for the construction of XL, whether for direct costs like construction, or indirect costs such as lost property value (opportunity cost) for land seized by imminent domain.

    There will be other subsidies such as lost value for fresh water usage (about 4 to 8 gallons of fresh water are required for every gallon of tar sands oil). USA Citizens will pay for this one way or the other.

    The Ogallala Aquifer will be de-valued by contamination to a large extent (we already know that other such pipelines leak freely and depreciate the waters they run thru). This will cause great financial damage to the Nebraske agri-business which is a mainstay of USA food production, so food costs to US consumers will rise drastically.

    The paltry results simply do not justify the costs to American citizens. It´s a very poor ROI.

  • There is a considerable amount of patenting done in the area of clean energy systems both in the USA and abroad.

    These integrative systems could increase extraction costs but bypass all of the carbon emission issues perhaps substantially.

  • Re: comment #3, One American’s Rant, I applaude your citation for the need for research. Anyone can say anything on the Internet, so research is vital. Regarding the pipeline, may I suggest that your research start here and here? Whether I am personally for or against the pipeline is immaterial. My article dealt with Obama and his response to a rather “sticky” situation. All I can do is report “facts” that my research has uncovered and present them. (Notice that sources are also included) You, and others, must reach your own conclusions.

  • I want to research this a little more before making a substantive comment. I can’t tell if you are for or against the pipeline. It sounds more like a general Obama complaint. If that is so, just say. If it is a given that the US will need a given amount of oil over the next X years, and this pipeline means that we import less from OPEC, then it seems worthwhile just on that basis. If we ALSO gain thousands of jobs building the pipeline then that seems a plus. Just my $0.02.

  • Re: comment #1, Jordan, my “point” is that when the going gets tough, Obama opts out rather than trying to find a solution.

  • Jordan Richardson

    What “point” do you think you made in this article, Warren?