I would be happy to be proven wrong on my long-held assertion that the Keystone Pipeline would be approved. After reading President Obama’s remarks over the weekend, I would at least say the project is looking a lot less likely. In an interview with the New York Times, Obama made it clear he not does not inhale Big Oil’s talking points on the benefits of Keystone. In fact, he belittles them.
But first here is what I wrote in a fearless post back in March:
For American consumers, the Keystone Pipeline project will prove pointless. For the environment, it’s another blow. Expect President Barack Obama to approve it later this year.
The Keystone XL pipeline aims to substantially ramp shipment of Canadian oil sands crude to hungry U.S. Gulf Coast refineries. Big Oil is lined up against an impressively organized green movement but expect oil companies to prevail as it is difficult to see how the White House will resist the oil lobby, especially after the latest State Department report, which gives the administration the cover it needs to approve.
Now contrast this with Obama’s take in the Times interview. He first smashes the myth the pipeline will create jobs:
“Republicans have said that this would be a big jobs generator,” Mr. Obama said in an interview with The New York Times. “There is no evidence that that’s true. The most realistic estimates are this might create maybe 2,000 jobs during the construction of the pipeline, which might take a year or two, and then after that we’re talking about somewhere between 50 and 100 jobs in an economy of 150 million working people.”
He said 2,000 jobs were “a blip relative to the need.”
He then challenged the idea the pipeline will bring energy security to the U.S. or even lower prices for consumers:
So what we also know is, is that that oil is going to be piped down to the Gulf to be sold on the world oil markets, so it does not bring down gas prices here in the United States. In fact, it might actually cause some gas prices in the Midwest to go up where currently they can’t ship some of that oil to world markets.
Nevertheless, he did see some benefits of the project, while taking a shot at Canada:
Now, having said that, there is a potential benefit for us integrating further with a reliable ally to the north our energy supplies. But I meant what I said; I’m going to evaluate this based on whether or not this is going to significantly contribute to carbon in our atmosphere. And there is no doubt that Canada at the source in those tar sands could potentially be doing more to mitigate carbon release.
Obama is expected to decide the fate of the long delayed project later this year, but another delay could be in the offing, if not full rejection. The president previously said in his major climate speech in June that he would not approve the pipeline if it “significantly” exacerbates carbon pollution.
It’s still too hard to say which way Obama will go but he doesn’t appear to be very keen on approving the big, messy project.