At this point, the absence of a decision has become an accomplishment in itself for the Obama administration. This week marks five years since the Keystone XL pipeline submitted its application for approval. And for half a decade now, President Barack Obama has managed to keep from angering his environmentalist base by approving it, or from angering his union base by rejecting it.
“Five years ago today, TransCanada, the Calgary, Alberta-based corporation filed an application for a presidential permit to build an extension to the Keystone Pipeline,” Forbes reported on Friday. “For the last five years, KXL has been continuously debated, studied, reviewed, analyzed and reanalyzed in response to assertions by opponents of the project that development of Canadian oil sands will lead to something tantamount to ecological Armageddon.”
Portions of the pipeline have been approved and built. But Phase 4 has been stalled. That’s the part that goes right through East Texas.
There’s no real question about the environmental impact.
Government statistics clearly show that pipelines are the safest mode of transportation for shipping large volumes of petroleum products,” Forbes explains. “They present less of an environmental impact and are more efficient other transportation options all while costing the consumer the least in transportation costs.”
But in fact, environmental groups are using the very visible Keystone XL project as a rallying point to help bring all the divergent interests together.
As Bloomberg reported last week, “Three enviro outfits staged a sit-in at the Houston offices of TransCanada (TRP), the company that wants to build the Keystone XL, which ended with 13 arrests earlier today.”
One activist told the news agency, “We had about 60 people turn out, and 13 … were willing to risk arrest ... Among those arrested were teachers, a geologist, a couple of grandparents. We have the signatures of 75,000 more who have signed a pledge that they are willing to go to jail.”
(The pipeline has brought celebrity protesters to East Texas. Last year, actress Darryl Hannah was arrested near Winnsboro as they tried to prevent crews from clearing trees.)
They’re courting arrest for zero environmental benefits. TransCanada will build the pipeline, whether it’s to the Texas Gulf Coast or to the Pacific shore, for distribution to China and Asian markets. Killing the pipeline won’t prevent a single barrel of oil from being pumped from the sands.
So, as Forbes points out, “while this final leg will not tip the earth’s ecological balance, it will make transportation of oil resources safer because it will carry U.S. crude from the Dakotas to market, replacing rail and highway traffic. But added safety isn’t the only benefit Keystone will bring. It will also make our country less dependent on foreign oil.”
Common sense that should make the Keystone XL decision easy.
“While the U.S. must lesson its reliance on fossil fuels, we must also ensure that the oil we do require is procured from a stable source and it must be moved in the safest manner possible,” Forbes notes.
It’s time to approve the pipeline.