If President Obama rejects the Keystone XL pipeline, he will set a precedent with potentially devastating impacts for mainstream environmentalism.
The Keystone XL pipeline, if approved, would transport oil from the tar sands in western Canada to a hub in Nebraska, then connect with existing pipelines to carry more than 800,000 barrels of crude oil a day to refineries in Texas
On Friday, the U.S. Department of State released a long-delayed environmental review of the 1,179-mile pipeline project.
The State Department report indicated that the project was not likely to have major environmental impacts given that the Canadian tar sands are likely to be developed with or without the pipeline.
In a recent post on Energy Collective, John Miller, an energy consultant and petroleum engineer, summarized what seems likely to happen if the opponents succeed in blocking the pipeline, stating: “Delaying and possibly not approving the Keystone XL can and will negatively impact U.S. Energy Security and the economy, have insignificant impact on world CO2 emissions, and possibly damage the important relationship with Canada . . . without the Keystone XL the negative impacts will continue to exit and could increase.”
Regardless of what happens with the pipeline, the Canadian Oil Sands will almost certainly be developed. The pipeline’s opponents mistakenly assume that blocking the pipeline would prevent oil production from the Oil Sands. Canada’s oil sands will be developed with or without the Keystone pipeline. If the pipeline is not built, Canada’s oil will flow into the United States by rail or be re-routed to markets overseas, most likely Asia.
The State Department removed any remaining relevance the pipeline may once have had for purposes of mitigating climate change.
The controversy over the Keystone XL pipeline has become the most perverse kind of ideological battle where symbolism matters more than substance.
The Rainforest Action Network, the Sierra Club and a clutch of other ‘environmental’ groups are organizing hundreds of protests across the country this week demanding that President Obama reject the pipeline because it would create “a huge source of carbon pollution.”
The oil sands – not the pipeline – will create “a huge source of carbon pollution” and it will do so with or without the Keystone XL pipeline.
Rather than asking Obama to reject the Keystone pipeline, the protesters should be asking him to invade Canada and seize control of the Oil Sands. That is the only way Obama can prevent the Oil Sands from becoming a huge source of carbon pollution.
Pretending otherwise is misleading at best and dishonest at worse.