Biden’s Attack on the Keystone XL Pipeline Is Politics, Not Policy
by Steven Milloy
Joe Biden plans to make good on his promise to phase-out fossil fuels. Reportedly, he will cancel the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline on his first day as president.
The proposed pipeline would be an additional conduit for as much as 830,000 barrels of oil per day from Alberta’s oils sands into the U. S. and down to Gulf Coast refineries. The pipeline would be 1,700 miles long and cross six states. It would also transport oil from North Dakota for processing on the Gulf Coast.
Although the pipeline passed muster under conventional environmental considerations in 2010, its permit was denied in 2015 by the Obama administration, citing the then-novel excuse of climate change.
The pipeline was approved in 2017 by the Trump administration, but then blocked by a federal judge in 2018 to allow more time for environment review – even though the Keystone XL pipeline was first proposed in 2008.
The irony is that Keystone XL is much ado about nothing.
Oil from Alberta has already been flowing through the existing Keystone Pipeline since 2010. The Biden administration has so far not announced any action against that pipeline.
Oil that the Keystone Pipeline can’t handle is now transported into the U. S. by rail. The Biden administration is not likely to take any action against that, especially since some of the trains are owned by billionaire and Biden-supporter Warren Buffett.
So, that Canadian oil is coming anyway and pipelines are safer than rail–even Buffett admits this–but none of this reality apparently matters to the incoming Biden administration.
Will the cancellation accomplish anything for the environment?
There are already hundreds of thousands of miles of underground pipelines carrying petroleum products in the U. S.–millions of miles if you include natural gas pipelines.
What’s an additional 1,700 miles of pipeline?
The Biden administration’s main reasons for revoking the Keystone XL permit is climate. Is this reasonable?
The Obama EPA estimated that the oil flowing through Keystone XL would result in an extra 18.7 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted into the atmosphere versus conventional oil. That may sound like a lot of CO2, but it’s not.
According to the most recent United Nations report on emissions, man-made emissions of greenhouse gases equated to 59.1 billion tons of CO2 in 2019. So according to the Obama EPA’s estimates, the oil flowing through the Keystone XL pipeline would increase global emissions of CO2 by about 0.03 percent (i.e., 18.7 million tons divided by 59.1 billion tons).
Even if you believe U. N. climate models predicting global warming from greenhouse gas emissions, a 0.03 percent increase in emissions is insignificant.
But the benefits of the pipeline aren’t insignificant. According to the U. S . Chamber of Commerce, the Keystone XL will:
- Produce 20,000 well-paying jobs during manufacturing and construction;
- Increase personal income for all America workers by $6.5 billion during the lifetime of the project.
- Generate an estimated $138.4 million in annual property tax revenue for state governments and local entities where the pipeline is located;
- Create $585 million in new taxes for communities among the pipeline route;
- Create more than $5.2 billion in property taxes during the lifetime of the pipeline.
- Generate additional private sector investment of around $20 billion on food, lodging, fuel, vehicles, equipment, construction supplies and services.
As will be the case with everything the Biden administration tries to do on climate, the revocation of the Keystone XL permit will be the exaltation of imaginary global climate benefits over real ones to U. S. workers and communities.
This is especially true since Canada is committed to developing the Alberta tar sands. The oil is going to be produced, transported and burned somewhere. The U.S. will just miss out on its benefits.
[Originally posted on InsideSources]
Biden to try to prevent bad weather by forcing oil to be shipped by rail instead of thru a mostly-completed pipeline? https://t.co/PfxcpSRF7M
— Tom Nelson (@tan123) January 20, 2021
Here's what I find terrifying about the news that Joe Biden is planning to cancel Keystone XL. He doesn't even acknowledge (or know?) that the heavy oil we get from Canada is particularly vital given how US refineries work and the state of global oil demand (more diesel needed).
— Alex Epstein (@AlexEpstein) January 19, 2021
This valuable chart highlights a) the US producing a lot more oil over the past decade, and b) the fact that we still need to import huge amounts of oil because the oil we produce often can't be used for the oil products we consume. That's why need to pipe heavy oil from Canada. https://t.co/tYSNjzjS0Z
— Alex Epstein (@AlexEpstein) January 20, 2021
It's good to see US labor unions standing up for fossil fuel projects like Keystone XL. In my experience labor unions know far more than most about energy. They know that producing low-cost reliable energy means a lot more opportunity than building cost-adding "unreliables." https://t.co/xjPgCWXSZj
— Alex Epstein (@AlexEpstein) January 19, 2021
A quick note: by cancelling #KeystoneXL Pres Biden will not reduce GHG emissions since the pipeline was intended to move existing production.
— Blair King (@BlairKing_ca) January 20, 2021
EIA: “In 2019, U.S. energy production exceeded energy consumption for the first time since 1957, and U.S. energy exports exceeded energy imports for the first time since 1952.”
Keystone XL May Be Sold for Scrap If Biden Moves to Kill It
“Canadian oil is produced under strong environmental and climate policy frameworks, and this project will not only strengthen the vital Canada-U.S. energy relationship, but create thousands of good jobs for workers on both sides of the border,” said O’Regan in an email.
Alberta, home to the world’s third-largest crude reserves, has struggled for years with a lack of pipeline capacity to ship its crude to the U.S. Gulf Coast and other markets. TC Energy Corp.’s Keystone XL was one of the possible pipelines the industry was counting on to solve that.
The cancellation of Keystone XL would cost Alberta taxpayers just over C$1 billion ($785 million), Kenney said.
The Canadian province that invested $1.1 billion of taxpayers’ money in the controversial Keystone XL project is now considering the sale of pipe and materials to try to recoup some funds.
“If the project ends, there would be assets that could be sold, such as enormous quantities of pipe,” Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said in a press conference Monday. “That would offset construction costs.”
Keystone pipeline: Biden ‘to cancel it on his first day’
The pipeline is projected to carry oil nearly 1,200 miles (1,900km) from the Canadian province of Alberta down to Nebraska, to join an existing pipeline.
Environmentalists and Native American groups have fought the project for more than a decade.
Work had been halted but restarted in 2019 under President Donald Trump.
Mr Trump overturned a decision by his predecessor, Barack Obama, who vetoed a bill approving construction in 2015.
The privately financed pipeline is expected to cost about $8bn (£5.8bn; CAD $10bn).
The Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA): “But facts apparently mean as little to the president as the construction jobs he repeatedly derided as insignificant because they are ‘temporary,’ ” Terry O’Sullivan said. “Ironically, the very temporary nature of the president’s own job seems to be fueling a legacy of doing permanent harm to middle- and working class families.”
Extracting domestic energy from the U.S. and other parts of North America where human rights and environmental protection are markedly better than many other energy choices – is the ethical choice.
Not only is the U.S. importing carbon-based energy from countries with questionable human rights and environmental records — ie. conflict energy, but now we are also importing so-called renewable energy from these countries.