The Widdershins

Activist Monday: Keystone XL Pipeline May Go Through

Posted on: November 17, 2014

20130217-msm-keystone281Good Monday, all. As you know, I have been following the developments regarding the Keystone XL Pipeline for several years now. The activists opposing it have been extremely successful so far. However, at some point the political party you elect to stand up for you, has to actually do so. Since the Democrats have allowed themselves to be convinced that this environmentally destructive idea is a good one (oil and gas donations seem to be a big part of the reason why), I am very sorry to say that, despite many years and tens of millions of dollars in opposition, Keystone XL may end up going through after all.

Senate Democrats on Tuesday will hold a vote to force President Barack Obama’s hand on the Keystone XL, the controversial pipeline that would carry crude oil from the Canadian tar sands.

This move has baffled environmental activists, who have spent six years campaigning against the pipeline and sunk $85 million into defending Senate control. It’s also baffled Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum, who called it “crazy,” and the American Prospect’s Paul Waldman, who described it as a “politically idiotic” move. (My choice of phrase was “insanely dumb.”)

Senate Democrats are holding this vote now in part to boost Senator Mary Landrieu’s prospects in her December runoff, which she’s likely to lose. They are also holding it because they know, with certainty, that Republicans will make this their first priority when they take over the Senate in January…

By the New Republic’s count, the Senate has 58 votes in favor of building the pipeline. This is not a veto-proof majority, so if Obama vetoes the bill, it dies…that is, until the Senate changes control in January. After that, the bill may well have the 67 votes it needs to override it.

Knowing that the bill could go through regardless, I could see Obama vetoing the bill pro forma. As we know, his record is awful on environmental matters, having made only token efforts to address the ever-more-urgent issue of global climate change. The agreement that was reached last week with China was nothing to get excited about, according to Megan McArdle of Bloomberg.

As I understand the deal, the U.S. pledges to get its carbon emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. China agrees to peaking carbon emissions in 2030.  All of which sounds very fine, except for the “Yes, buts”:

  • At least some forecasts already show China’s emissions peaking in 2030. As China’s economy matures, and its population stops growing, its rate of emissions growth will naturally slow. Getting China to agree to something that was maybe going to happen anyway does not seem like a varsity-level diplomatic achievement

  • America has already achieved half its target thanks to natural gas fracking and the aging-out of older cars and coal plants. So right away, this target seems less ambitious than advertised.

Yup, that sounds like the Obama we all know far too well. And unfortunately, reducing emissions is a cover for environmentally damaging policies like allowing fracking. A MEANINGFUL agreement would require Americans to go to renewable energy by 2030, at whatever pace non-partisan scientists and policymakers agree is possible. What I wouldn’t give for us to still be a country where this kind of political change is the norm!

My point here is that Obama and Congress won’t stop the XL Pipeline. The only hope for environmental intelligence to win this battle lies with the state of Nebraska.

The state—and the pipeline project—suffered a significant blow last February, when a district court judge voided the state’s 2012 pipeline law. In her decision, Judge Stephanie Stacy of the Lancaster County District Court said the law had unconstitutionally abrogated the power of state regulators to review the route, putting too much power in the governor’s hands.

That court victory by the pipeline’s opponents left TransCanada without a legally approved route for the KXL through Nebraska. With the route in legal limbo, the State Department opted to postpone indefinitely its long-awaited recommendation on whether the KXL is in the national interest and should get a presidential permit to proceed.

Although President Obama has declared that his decision will depend largely on whether the pipeline would worsen global warming, the federal government could scarcely approve a proposed pipeline whose route had been rejected by one of the states it must cross.

If the pipeline is blocked, then, it will be not because of political activism, but because rich people in Nebraska want to protect their private property. How typical in our New Reaganite Reality, where money is speech, corporations are people, and politicians are too bought-off to do what needs to be done to save our planet. Don’t they realize that they have to live here, too?


6 Responses to "Activist Monday: Keystone XL Pipeline May Go Through"

My new ‘puter is up and running, and I am baffled by this damn thing. The manual must be downloaded, and my aging printer may or may not be coaxed into working with it, so I remain in the dark for the most part. as for Keystone, let the Canadians build a refinery and keep their sticky tarsand oil at home.

Thank you for the interesting post MB. Interestingly, the Native Americans in Dakota are also going to put up a fight:

Plus, I love the comment this person made about the article:

“Aaron Walton · Top Commenter · Oregon State University
I love the irony of this situation. Native Americans were forced onto the most worthless plots of land in the country during the 19th century. Now there’s some value in running a pipeline across it and the US government is selling them out once again. It’s good to see the only real Americans fighting for what the rest of us can’t be bothered with.”

Yay! Chat is back! Yeah, new computers can be tough. New anything, really. Its such a pain to figure out how everything new works nowadays. Everything has to be needlessly complicated.

Yep the Dems in the Senate (well I guess Harry Reid actually) are going to hold the vote to authorize or whatever the pipeline. Yes there will be a lot of jobs in building the pipeline but from what I’ve read not too many after the thing is built.

Mary has been pushing for the vote to try to show the folks in La the clout she has in the Senate as the head of the whatever committee this falls under. Of course the clout disappeared when the Repubs got the Senate majority. The only thing the pipeline might help La with is that I believe the refined oil will be shipped out to tankers offshore, going through Port Fouchon. That’s not going to create a lot or maybe no extra jobs in that area.

A MEANINGFUL agreement would require Americans to go to renewable energy by 2030, at whatever pace non-partisan scientists and policymakers agree is possible.

Sorry, not gonna happen. Planes don’t fly by flapping their wings nor do they fly by solar energy. We don’t have the infrastructure to run trains on electricity, although I wish we did. And natural gas fired generators are the cleanest type to make electricity, outside of nuclear. i don’t see any of it happening MB within 15 years.

Chat, welcome back! Hope you figure out the computer soon.

Fredster, the pipeline’s negatives far outweigh the positives. Per a meaningful agreement, I definitely don’t know how soon we can go to renewable energy – that is why I put that caveat in. Nonetheless, we don’t really have a choice other than to do it, if we want to continue living on the earth.

@5: Oh I agree about the negatives of the pipeline and these tar sand oils are the dirtiest of the dirty when it comes to oil. When I went back and reread the post I saw your caveat in there. Still, I am not hopeful that we as a country will do much about it.

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