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Obama Downplays Keystone’s Benefits Ahead of Pipeline Decision

The State Department in March placed the anticipated number of construction jobs at 3,900 per year; Obama halved that estimate.

by
Bill Straub

Bio

August 29, 2013 - 2:14 pm
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WASHINGTON – President Obama remains uncommitted regarding construction of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, but recent remarks indicate he maintains serious qualms about allowing completion of the 1,661-mile, $7 billion project.

That apparent reluctance has attracted barbs from supporters who maintain the pipeline running from Hardisty, Alberta, Canada, to an area near the Texas Gulf Coast will create thousands of jobs and promote energy security.

“We need to get this project done for the American people,” said Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), who sponsored a resolution with Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and several other lawmakers asserting that the project is in the public interest.

“It really is about jobs,” Hoeven said. “It is about economic growth and activity. It is about energy for our country and getting this country to the point where we are energy independent, energy secure, where we don’t need to rely on oil from the Middle East. That is why 82 percent of Americans in the most recent poll across this country are saying this is the kind of project we need.”

But in a recent interview with the New York Times, Obama held that pipeline construction won’t be the “big jobs generator” that its supporters maintain. And, the president added, the project will do little to enhance the nation’s energy situation.

“Putting all your eggs in the basket of an oil pipeline that may only create about 50 permanent jobs…isn’t a jobs plan,” Obama said in a speech focusing on employment in Chattanooga, Tenn., on July 30.

Obama is expected to decide the pipeline’s fate by the end of 2013 or early 2014 at the latest. At least part of the decision will be based on a review of the project by the State Department, which is involved because it’s a multi-national project with Canada.

The Keystone pipeline, a project of the TransCanada Corp., an energy company based in Calgary, Alberta, is primarily intended to transport oil sands bitumen – sands saturated with a viscous form of petroleum — from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries.

Two phases covering 2,151 miles already are operating, one from Hardisty, Alberta, to Patoka, Ill., and a second from Steele City, Neb., to Cushing, Okla. A third phase under construction will run from Cushing to the Texas Gulf Coast.

The pipeline system currently in operation can move up to 590,000 barrels of the crude Canadian oil to refineries in the American Midwest per day.

It is a proposed fourth phase that is drawing controversy. TransCanada wants to run a 1,661-mile pipeline from Hardisty crossing over the border into Morgan, Mont., that would cost about $5.3 billion and move 830,000 barrels of crude oil per day. If approved, it will terminate in Steele City, where the oil will enter the other pipelines.

Environmentalists strongly oppose the fourth phase, expressing concern over oil spills and the potential for damage to the Ogallala aquifer, one of the world’s largest underground water tables, which spans eight states, provides drinking water to two million people and supports $20 billion in agriculture.

Originally the route of the fourth phase was supposed to cross the Sand Hills in Nebraska, a large wetland ecosystem. TransCanada changed the route to avoid the conflict.

Environmentalists like Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) also maintain extracting the oil sands will further contribute to global climate change, noting the removal requires a greater expenditure of greenhouse gas emissions compared to the extraction of conventional oil.

“The tar sands oil to be transported by the Keystone XL pipeline would wreak havoc on our climate by unleashing up to 22 percent more carbon pollution than average crude oil refined in the U.S.,” Whitehouse said. “With communities in Rhode Island and around the country already suffering from the effects of carbon pollution, we can’t afford to make things worse.”

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All Comments   (14)
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31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
No other way to say it. Obama is a tree hugging, card carrying Saul Alinsky patriot. He's also a lame duck, and now is waffleing on the Keystone Pipeline project. If it involved welfare he would tap dance all around the podium with glee. We must do something as citizens because we can no longer afford to sit back and watch him destroy our country as we know it. The Dems and Repubs are both corrupt to the core, and they will not change. We must embrace the new handful of young elected politicians, (Paul, Lee, etc.). All must embrace article 5 of our Constitution. It is our only hope to break this stranglehold on us citizens, and place the power of the people back into the hands of ther States. We then eliminate those corrupt bastards in D.C.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Here's a "shovel ready job" that actually creates full-time employment at professional wages. So of course he is against it.

Now if it created lots of minimum wage, part-time work in the inner-cities...
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
How many of Obama's "Pet Projects" have failed, so far?
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Maybe if we convinced him it was a green energy project on the verge of bankruptcy that needed a 100 million or so to keep going...

He seems to like bankrupt green energy.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Save your ink: the pipeline would run down the middle of America.

These are NOT 0bama's people.

The job prospects could be twenty times as great... he'd still shoot it down.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Face it, the Keystone Pipeline will NEVER be built, while Obama is President.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
The notion that killing the pipeline will prevent the release of greenhouse gases from extraction and refining those tar sands is ludicrous. Canada fully intends to exploit those resources, and appears ready to do a deal with China if the US kills the project.

As to that potential release of CO-2, has anyone estimated how much is being released by those West Coast fires? Quite a bit more than Keystone or anything connected to it I suspect.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Then there has to be another motive. Obama and the greenies aren't that stupid as to believe they could stop Canada from utilizing their black gold, Texas tea or should we say Alberta Americano. Find the real motive and move to expose and block that.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Actually, I suspect Obama & pals are that stupid. Leftist hubris is unlimited and they appear never to be deterred by facts or reality.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Leftist animus against profit making "corporations" is sufficient in itself to animate their opposition. And they are big into symbols, whether they have any real effect or not.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Keystone is not about jobs. It is about energy security. Buy oil from a friend and neighbour (with a practically unlimited supply) or buy it from a collection of rogue states and enemies.

The environmental issue is also a red herring. Production of Alberta oil generates little more carbon than any other kind (assuming, for the sake of argument, that carbon even matters.) In any case, the development of the oil sands will continue, with the product going to the Canadian domestic market, and as new pipeline projects are approved, to foreign customers.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
It will be moved to the US by rail.

Wonder where the railroads are on this? Might there be a bit of grease passing under the table to the environmentalists organizations? I have seen it before, in connection with a proposed coal pipeline that would have cut into one of their most lucrative customer sources.

That's not a guess by the way. After the (coal) dust had all settled, the RRs found themselves on the losing end of a huge antitrust judgment for conspiring to block the pipeline.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wrong...

The grease is coming from corporate Saudi Arabia.

Their 'gifts' to the Greens are of PUBLIC RECORD.

The Greens couldn't move without Arab funding.

For the kingdom, this is an essential strategic interest.

They're all out against fracking, too. Within a decade, KSA will be a rump oil power. THAT'S what they see in their crystal ball.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
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