The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Keystone XL Delaying Action

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted November 11, 2011

More on the Keystone XL pipeline, starting with the administration statement on delaying a decision on the project until early 2013:

"Because this permit decision could affect the health and safety of the American people as well as the environment, and because a number of concerns have been raised through a public process, we should take the time to ensure that all questions are properly understood. The final decision should be guided by an open, transparent process that is informed by the best available science and the voices of the American people."

It's as if the past three years - including three separate environmental assessments giving the pipeline a green light, multiple public hearings, consideration of 14 different routes and 57 special conditions exceeding current federal pipeline regulations that were agreed to by builder TransCanada, the promise of jobs and increased energy security - somehow escaped notice by the White House.

We'll leave the political analysis to others - like U.S. House Speaker John Boehner:

"More than 20,000 new American jobs have just been sacrificed in the name of political expediency. By punting on this project, the President has made clear that campaign politics are driving U.S. policy decisions - the expense of American jobs."

And the international relations analysis - to Calgary Herald columnist Deborah Yedlin:

"With this move, the geopolitical risk often ascribed to investing in countries where the rules have been known to change unexpectedly - say, Russia, Libya or Venezuela - is now going to be used when describing the business climate in the U.S. Canada and the U.S. have a very important trading relationship; this decision has inextricably injected an element of mistrust into that relationship which won't be easily repaired. ... Prime Minister Steven Harper will be seeing Obama in Hawaii today. No doubt he will be looking at someone who was supposed to be a trusted neighbour in a different light and wondering whether Chinese President Hu Jintao might be a more reliable ally." (That'll leave a mark.)

And the environmental analysis - to the Wall Street Journal:

"As for the claim that extracting bitumen from the Alberta tar sands is a carbon catastrophe, if the Keystone XL project doesn't go forward TransCanada will simply load the oil on railroad cars for trans-shipment from British Columbia to other countries, like China. Maybe there's an impact statement to be done on that carbon footprint."

More on the Keystone XL and the environment? How about Carpe Diem's Mark J. Perry:

"With all of the environmentalism alarmism about the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline, it might be a good time to point out that: a) the United States already has a huge network of existing pipelines for oil, natural gas and gasoline illustrated in the map above, b) pipelines have been used successfully and safely in the U.S. for more than 100 years, and c) pipelines are an integral part of our domestic energy system. In other words, we live safely with energy pipelines every day and the Keystone XL pipeline would simply become one new part of an existing and extensive pipeline network that makes a significant contribution to America's dependable and affordable energy."

And, yes, there was a map with Perry's piece:


As for business analysis - API President and CEO Jack Gerard:

"It's a chilling effect to the entire industry - you can't rely on the legal processes to make a timely decision. ... If you're a business person, and you're looking at a legal process that has this much discretion in it ... you've got to think twice about risking your shareholders' assets."

It's an unfortunate decision - Gerard called it "troubling" - that indefinitely defers the 20,000 jobs Boehner mentioned during the pipeline's construction phase, even as 14 million Americans are out of work. It helps sustain myths about oil sands that limit that resource's use and the U.S.-Canadian energy partnership.

It's ... not over. Stay tuned.


Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.