Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Power Politics in Washington and the XL Keystone Pipeline

Weeks of protests by environmentalists and celebrities resulted in a delay of the XL Keystone Pipeline decision beyond the 2012 Presidential election.  Politics appears to have been the main motivating factor to delay the Pipeline.   Although there have been two environmental impact assessments and the Nebraska objections addressed, Obama arbitrarily delayed the decision for yet another environmental assessment. 

The pipeline delay has more to do with the Alberta Oil sands than any danger to the environment the pipeline would cause.  The latest technology and extraordinary safety measures will be used to ensure the safe operation of the line. 

The United States needs the oil whether it comes from the oilsands or elsewhere.  The politics of oil is complicated.  When you compare the reaction to Libya and the subsequent imposition of a "no fly zone" and removal of Gaddafi from power, and the situation in Syria, there is a noticeable contrast to the reaction in either case.   Libya's so called protection of civilians had more to do with securing an important supply of oil for European nations.  While Syria has oil it is not crucial to the overall world supply.  Of course this is a simplistic explanation and there are many other factors, including the location of Syria and its alignment with Iran. 

The oil sands is a safe supply of oil that in the end will serve to bring some energy independence and satisfy national security for the United States.  Environmentalists, who have used the oil sands as a whipping boy for their cause, are in Obama's corner and vital for his re-election next year.  While they would never vote for GOP candidates, they can have a damaging impact if they decide not to vote at all. 

If you assume that politics is the main factor for delaying the decision beyond the 2012 election, then you can easily see that the GOP wants to milk this shovel ready project, pointing to the fact that if the President wanted to create jobs, approving the pipeline is a "no brainer."

In the current payroll tax reduction debate waging in Washington, the Senate has defeated both a Republican and a Democratic bill.  The House is scheduled to vote on a new proposal today, which includes a measure that would require the Administration to reach a decision within 60 days.  Even if it did pass, the Administration says congressional interference could kill the project altogether.   Harry Reid has said that the bill is dead on arrival in the Senate, while Obama has vowed to veto the bill. 

Date: Tuesday Dec. 13, 2011 6:55 AM ET
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration says a Republican bill to fast-track approval of a Canadian oil pipeline could lead to the project's demise.
In a statement Monday, the State Department warned that congressional interference with TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline could backfire.
The State Department has authority over the project because it crosses an international border.
The statement said that if Congress imposes an arbitrary deadline for a permit decision, it could prevent the administration from meeting environmental laws that govern the approval process.  CTV
In this political election cycle, politics are trump.  With each side trying to get the upper hand, the debate around the XL Keystone Pipeline is being used for "political football" by either side.  Meanwhile two towns at either end of the pipeline, Hardesty, Alberta and Port Arthur,TX, are being kept in limbo.  Political division is hurting people, while Washington carries on with business as usual.  Will they ever wisen up?

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