Obama Plays Politics with Keystone XL

April 8, 2014

Keystone XL would allow up to 830,000 barrels of oil per day into the United States, but President Obama refuses to approve it, say Kenneth P. Green, senior director of natural resource studies, and Alan W. Dowd, a senior fellow, at the Fraser Institute.

For five years, President Obama has been punting the decision to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. Most recently, the White House said that it would only allow the project to go forward if the president determines that "it does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution."

This should be a routine infrastructure project. Why, then, does President Obama oppose it?

  • His objection cannot be about keeping dirty Canadian oil out of the United States, because Canadian oil is already coming into the country via a pipeline from Alberta to Oklahoma.
  • It cannot be about safety, because movement of oil and gas is safest through pipelines, much safer than rail or roadway.
  • It also cannot be about protecting the economy, because Keystone XL would support 42,100 jobs in the United States during the two-year construction period.
  • It cannot be based on polling -- 60 percent of Americans support the XL pipeline, while only 30 percent oppose it.

That 30 percent, however, includes environmentalists, one of the president's largest voting blocs. Not only this, Obama appears to be, as they are, opposed to a hydrocarbon economy, no matter U.S. needs or capabilities. This ignores reality. Not only is oil going to be our fuel source for the foreseeable future, but energy alternatives cannot provide enough energy in a cost-effective way.

What are the long-term consequences of Obama's refusal to approve the pipeline? Arguably, his refusal violates the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Canada could respond in kind, instituting import restrictions -- after all, Canada is the number one export market for 38 of the 50 states. But it will not do that. Why? "Canadian policymakers know that engaging in such a trade tit-for-tat would do more harm than good -- and that the NAFTA partnership is about removing trade barriers rather than creating them," say Green and Dowd.

Source: Kenneth P. Green and Alan W. Dowd, "Crude (Oil) Politics," The American, April 2, 2014.

 

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