Analysis: Politics, legacy loom over Obama decision on Keystone XL pipeline

Comments (40)
jvonrock wrote:

What decision ? it’s already half built. nothing barack can do. Who’s believing this ?

Jan 27, 2014 1:37am EST  --  Report as abuse
jvonrock wrote:

What decision ? it’s already half built. nothing barack can do. Who’s believing this ?

Jan 27, 2014 1:37am EST  --  Report as abuse
Erikkc wrote:

The oil is going to move one way or another. Even the environmentalists protesting it come by car, and live in homes heated with fossil fuels.

Right now, it moves by train. And, every time there is a derailment, and subsequent environmental disaster, the environmentalists delaying the project are to blame.

Jan 27, 2014 5:03am EST  --  Report as abuse
ExDemocrat wrote:

President Obama has already signaled what he’ll do on Keystone XL by his years of inaction on the subject. He will either continue to keep dithering and hope the issue goes away, or refuse to support it. It is hard for him to do anything sensible when it comes to the economy.

Jan 27, 2014 5:29am EST  --  Report as abuse
xyz2055 wrote:

The Keystone Pipeline already exists. It’s been in operation since 2010. The current pipeline runs from Hardisty,Canada, to Steele City, Nebraska, splits off to Patoka, Illinois and continues south to Cushing, Oklahoma. Since 2010 the Keystone Pipeline has had 14 spills. Ranging from less than 10 gallons to 21,000 gallons. What is currently being debated is the XL extension. Which takes a shorter route from Hardisty to Steele City. You would think that in the past 4 years that the existing pipeline would answer some of the questions swirling around XL. Like how many jobs have been created (permanent versus short term) and the environmental impact. Both sides are adamant in their stance on the extension. No matter how Obama decides on this one..he will be wrong in someones eyes.

Jan 27, 2014 6:54am EST  --  Report as abuse
xyz2055 wrote:

Any one here ACTUALLY ever looked to see how many existing pipelines are already criss crossing America AND coming out of Canada? This map will blow you away! After 180,000 miles of pipeline have been built..the 1700 mile XL extension is being challenged?

Jan 27, 2014 7:09am EST  --  Report as abuse
mkhunt wrote:

STOP the contamination. energy exploitation is destroying lives and communities. Come to lovely Charleston, WV and see for water, no air, no life. Burning up the planet must be stopped.

Jan 27, 2014 8:12am EST  --  Report as abuse
JamVee wrote:

This President has stalled this project for years now. That’s all it is, a Politically driven STALL by him and his SERVANTS at the EPA.

They don’t care what good it could do for this country. They only care about nurturing the votes and $$ support from the ultra-Liberal segment of the environmentalist movement.

Jan 27, 2014 8:24am EST  --  Report as abuse
rlm328 wrote:

Let’s face some basics here. Obama owes Warren Buffet big time. Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway owns Burling Northern Railroad the primary carrier of the Canadian crude. This is just more political cronyism desquised as an environmental issue. Pipelines are the safest and most environmentally friendly way of transporting this amount of crude.

Hopefully obama can crawl out from under Buffet’s thumb for a while and make the right decision but I doubt it, decisions are something he has normally run from in the past.

Jan 27, 2014 8:28am EST  --  Report as abuse
jondaly wrote:

‘Administration officials say the timeline is being determined by the State Department, which has a say in the matter because the proposed pipeline would cross the U.S.-Canada border.”

Yeah….the White House is not involved. lol.

Jan 27, 2014 8:41am EST  --  Report as abuse
unionwv wrote:

“(Reuters) Analysis: Politics, legacy loom over Obama decision on Keystone XL pipeline.”

“Loom over”? That implies there may be something more going into his decision. There isn’t.

If there were (the welfare of the country, for example) the decision would have been made before the last election.

Jan 27, 2014 8:41am EST  --  Report as abuse
alowl wrote:

How does America benefit? Canadian bitumen goes to China. Cheap Chinese pipe used to build XL. Standards to build pipeline lowered.
Constrution jobs created will last no more than 3 yrs, then what? Breadbasket to the world is put under severe enviormental risk WHEN there is a leak. Already have two bitumen leaks in the USA which haven’t been cleaned up. Oil prices in flyover country will go up because it will be easier to export all oil. Show me the win for us 99%’ers

Jan 27, 2014 9:09am EST  --  Report as abuse
NEWAGER wrote:

Rather than thinking about his legacy, why doesn’t he think about the American people for a change?

Jan 27, 2014 9:49am EST  --  Report as abuse
COindependent wrote:

With this POTUS, EVERYTHING is political and the needs of this country and its citizens be damned.

After all, it’s not his construction job. And much like his EPA, it’s not his (or the EPA bureaucrats) whose job they regulate out of existence. We could compete heads-up with the Chinese in manufacturing, but we have to not have clean air and water–everything has to be sterile–as if people did not live and work in this country.

But we have regulated and taxed well-paid manufacturing jobs out of this country because blue collar work is perceived by the aristocratic elite to be subservient. To whom, I don’t know.

Jan 27, 2014 10:34am EST  --  Report as abuse
COindependent wrote:

@alowl Then disconnect that natural gas pipe to you home because it is at significantly more risk to you than virtually ANY oil and gas pipeline.

And those 3-year construction jobs are not important, nor the equipment purchased to build it, or the jobs that are created to maintain and monitor it over the long term. But it’s not your job, nor one that you would want to do, so it should not be allowed. That’s “progressive” thinking as espoused by the POTUS. Keep drinking the kool-aid.

Jan 27, 2014 10:41am EST  --  Report as abuse
Bighammerman wrote:

This is a no-brainer. Obama will not move quickly on this because he is doing everything possible to destrroy the U.S. How anyone who is a patriot can support Obama is beyond me.

Jan 27, 2014 10:51am EST  --  Report as abuse
4sight2020 wrote:

his legacy is one of cover ups, no trasparancy and poor leadership.

Jan 27, 2014 11:00am EST  --  Report as abuse

I understand how this will create jobs, only until the completion of the pipeline itself. After that, I imagine the jobs needed to maintain it will stabilize in the double digits – that is, until we have an oil spill! So hopefully we’re not relying on oils spills as a “job creation” tool.

However, “reducing energy dependence” is PURE fantasy. The oil originates in Canada, and is channeled down to the Gulf of Mexico, where it enters the international market, where we can then buy it, just the same as all other oil-dependent countries. At no point is that oil ever “ours”.

I have yet to see the long-term benefit for anyone who is not an executive of an oil company.

Jan 27, 2014 11:12am EST  --  Report as abuse
alowl wrote:

XL is a BITUMEN pipeline. You, me, nor no one else burns it.
Get your facts straight, not from a PR sheet.

Jan 27, 2014 11:43am EST  --  Report as abuse

Bighammerman wrote:
“This is a no-brainer. Obama will not move quickly on this because he is doing everything possible to destrroy the U.S.”

A “no-brainer” indeed…

Obama is trying to destroy the United States of America by not approving the Keystone XL pipeline. Right. Because the entire future of this country is dependent on this one oil pipeline.

Do you still why people laugh at you, make fun of you, and never take you seriously? (Hint: it’s because of statements like that. I know you can think; why you choose not to is beyond me)

Jan 27, 2014 11:48am EST  --  Report as abuse
Speaker2 wrote:

It would make more sense to spend the money to upgrade current gulf coast refineries to process the light-sweet crude oil from fracking then process the heavy high sulfur content from Canada and South America. We are running out of the refinery capacity to process the light oil, hence the request to start exporting domestic drilled oil.

Jan 27, 2014 12:10pm EST  --  Report as abuse
runningwolf wrote:

The price of oil will not decrease significantly even if we do manage to get the Keystone XL pipeline approved. The oil companies are NOT going to take a cut in their profits. If we manufacture cars that use less gas than the price of gas will go up to compensate for the decrease in its use. If we have green devices in our homes that allow us to use less electricity then the electric utilities will up their prices to compensate for the reduced usage. Wakeup America we live in the corporate world of profits for both the company and its shareholders. Nobody is going to backslid from their current profit margins because of technological or any other advancement.

Jan 27, 2014 12:23pm EST  --  Report as abuse
LizR wrote:

Most of us have continued to live in homes heated and powered by fossil fuels simply because for the entire SIXTY YEARS of my own political awareness, the taxpayers have allowed their representatives to subsidize the fossil fuel industry and failed to force full-hearted investment in research and rollout of technologies for production, storage and transmission of renewable energy..

Of course today most of us would still have to drive (or travel by rail or air) to rallies against the Keystone XL pipeline. And of course most of us do not yet own cars powered by other than fossil fuels. The price of a gas-powered car should be prohibitive, but no, t’s still the price of cars that use renewable resources that are beyond the budgets of most of us.

Still, we now know it will not be possible to burn every last barrel of fossil fuel, since we now know that our earth’s atmosphere will not support that (or support our existence if we try it). So it’s worth using a little fossil fuel right now to get to those rallies that are trying to help stop the furtherance of dependence on fossil fuels in the future.

Do you think it’s better to burn a barrel of oil to get me to one of those anti-pipeline rallies? Or for some company to make a new batch of plastic junk toys in China and import them on cargo ships, planes, trains, trucks and cars for my cousins’ babies next Christmas? You be the judge!

Make sure you count the impact on the Chinese environment and the factory workers as the plastic is made and shaped into those toys.

Make sure you count the impact of shipping the broken, discarded toys back to China to be recycled and the remnants stuck into Chinese landfills to clutter or poison the earth for eons to come.

And make sure you count the impact of modeling this unsustainable behavior to our next generation. They will determine the future. If what they see is what is now still largely done, the planet is surely doomed before the natural time of its extinction.

Let this latest godforsaken piece of bitumen-transporting pipeline be abandoned. Let the “new jobs” become jobs to reclaim parts of the extension that have already been laid. If we can recycle plastic milk jugs then we can certainly recycle segments of pipe. Surely there are other uses for it.

Worst case let metal sculpture artists take all that reclaimed pipe and make a huge monument to all the lives already shortened all over the world by our stubborn refusal to quit relying on the toxic processes and results of extracting, transporting, refining, transporting again (perhaps liquefying and exporting) and finally burning fossil fuels. Let that monument be built right on K street where the lobbyists for fossil fuel energy congregate every day in defiance of our common good.

The individual is not without power. Enough people standing up to protest the tyranny of the fossil fuel industry over our lives and the future of this planet can make a difference. Make your views known now. Write to the President. Write or phone your state and federal legislators. Write to the editor of your local newspaper. Speak of it to your friends and family.

Discuss energy resources and the problematic nature of fossil fuels with your children. Make them aware of the need to switch to renewable energy. It’s going to be their world. Let them bring a clear view, starting right now, to what will become one of their most important tasks.

Jan 27, 2014 1:01pm EST  --  Report as abuse
COindependent wrote:

@LizR notwithstanding the fact that renewables are forecast to deliver about 8% (on their best day) of forecast energy consumption in the U.S. over the next 30 years.

One needs to take a more holistic approach to energy versus “picking the winner”. Read the book “A cubic mile of oil” as it will frame the conversation. We need all forms of energy gong forward–including coal and nuclear (which the greens hate. Each has advantages and disadvantages. There are not any absolutes–not solar, not wind–and I am sure you might feel differently if the solar and wind stations were in your neighborhood–ala Ted Kennedy and his view from Cape Cod.

Economics come into play at every step of the process, and I could make the argument that our electricity transportation infrastructure is in desperate need of upgrading–at the cost of $10′s of billions. Who is going to pay for that? Or the fact that higher energy costs significantly impact the lives of those in this country that are less fortunate–as the solutions you embrace are significantly more expensive per KWH.

Now, I tend to agree that we should not be buying all of the stuff made in China. First off, most of what we buy should be made here, by Americans for Americans. Secondly, we need exports to create jobs–we need between 150K-200K per month to keep up with new entrants to the job market. We all cannot be software developers and lawyers–so we need blue collar jobs to fill the void.

So, step back, take a breath and stop trying to regulate everyone elses lives to fit your dream of energy utopia. There are not any absolutes in this discussion.

Jan 27, 2014 1:49pm EST  --  Report as abuse
gitmojo wrote:

Whatever “gain” in air quality created by not allowing Keystone to be finished is more than offset by several issues:
the diesel engines hauling this fuel source to the Gulf by train and truck.
the endless hot air emanating from the White House.
the endless use of AF1 and support transports to raise money for lib coffers, many of which are Sierra Club donors.
less controlled and higher emission refining by Asian buyers.

No one is owning up to the big picture on this issue.

Jan 27, 2014 2:04pm EST  --  Report as abuse
4825 wrote:

@LizR- Most folks, probably including you, do not realize the long list of products that come from the fossil fuels/ petroleum industry. Your life would be so much worse without these everyday products. Do a little research if you have any interest and get a feel for which products come from this industry. I assure you that you will be astounded. It is a lot more than just fuel.

Jan 27, 2014 2:48pm EST  --  Report as abuse
nearmsp wrote:

Under the NAFTA agreement oil can flow freely on railroad and by road. Oil is coming that way. We are having accidents on the rail network, thanks to environmentalists holding up the oil line. At the end of the day, we burn more fossil fuel by moving oil by railroad and road and greater chance of oil spillage. But who can reason with people on either side who are at the extremes?

Jan 27, 2014 3:09pm EST  --  Report as abuse
AlkalineState wrote:

This pipeline is neither harmful nor necessary. It’s just another political talking point, like Terry Shciavo was for 15 minutes.

Some bright conservative needs to explain though, why this pipeline is suddenly so critical, but we’ve got the GOP now pushing to EXPORT domestic oil. Currently exporting oil from the U.S. is illegal, and they are looking to change the law. Is the timing a coincidence?

Jan 27, 2014 3:35pm EST  --  Report as abuse
justmehla wrote:

I think the legacy talk is overblown.
If Obama has the political stomach to deny the pipeline someone else can authorize it next in 3 or 11 years.

Mexico is about to authorize foreign investments in oil.
China and all the rest are not likely to buy Canadian cruddy crud Crude is you see my meaning.

If they won’t even build the pipeline up there maybe they will build their own refineries when there is nothing else to do with it.

Jan 27, 2014 3:40pm EST  --  Report as abuse
AlkalineState wrote:

“Republican senator urges Obama to lift U.S. crude export ban:”

Jan 27, 2014 3:51pm EST  --  Report as abuse
ruhr wrote:

Rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline will not reduce U.S. fuel consumption by 800,000bpd; the demand and, with it carbon emitting pollutants will continue to be purchased from offshore.

Surely the argument is not whether or not the Keystone pipeline proceeds, but what measures are adopted to minimize the impact from carbon emitting pollutants?

Jan 27, 2014 4:03pm EST  --  Report as abuse
AlkalineState wrote:

If this pipeline is so darned important, why didn’t Bush build it? when gas was $4.50 a gallon in his second term? That oil in Canada is not new. It has been there for about 30 million years. As for its ‘discovery’ we can thank the native peoples and Explorer Alexander MacKenzie who wrote in 1788: “At about 24 miles (39 km) from the fork of the Athabasca and Clearwater Rivers are some bituminous fountains into which a pole of 20 feet long may be inserted without the least resistance.” So…. yeah. Well before Bush’s oil run-up. This whole thing is fishy.

Jan 27, 2014 4:24pm EST  --  Report as abuse
dd606 wrote:

Why is this even an issue? There’s pipelines all over the place. There’s a pipeline going right through the middle of my town. Most of the crazy eco people are too dumb to even know it’s there. They don’t want nuclear, they don’t want oil, they don’t want coal… They basically don’t want anything. Meanwhile, they go driving around in their cars like everybody else and using electricity like everybody else. Most eco people are too ignorant to have any idea how anything works in life. I talked to a girl the other day who is always ranting about this stuff… She said everything in the toilet goes into the ocean. I showed her right on the map where the treatment plant is, but she refused to believe me… She still insists everything you put down the drain goes right into the ocean. This is how stupid these people are. Somebody tells them that C02 is going to doom the whole world, even though it has existed on the planets in volumes ten times higher… and they just believe it. When are we going to stop letting the dumbest, nuttiest, most hysterical people of our society, call all the shots?

Jan 27, 2014 4:47pm EST  --  Report as abuse
brotherkenny4 wrote:

I was under the impression that the republicans of Nebraska were against the pipeline. What is the general consensus from the people of Nebraska? Good reporting would include asking questions of those folks too. After all, it is their aquafer that may be at risk. Everyone quoted in this article is from someplace that will not have to live with the pipeline. It’s easy to have an opinion when it’s someone elses problem.

Additionally, I also know that the oil is headed for foreign markets, not the US. Even the Koch brothers will tell you that.

Jan 27, 2014 4:53pm EST  --  Report as abuse
LizR wrote:

@ 4825 Please don’t imagine I’m not grateful for the myriad petroleum-based items that I almost (but not quite) take for granted in the course of any ordinary day. I am old, and accustomed to counting my blessings. Certainly, plastics have been among them.

Did we let the discovery that cylindrical tubing could be made of rubber stop us from realizing that even better tubing could be made from petroleum-based plastics? No.

But why would those oil-based plastics then have to be the end of the road?

There’s no necessary limit to our imagination and our drive to innovate. My first “portable” computers ran (crawled) at assorted rates from 7 to 12MHz. The ones I use now weigh a tenth as much and run at nearly 3 GHz. Would the oil and gas industry say I was doing just fine with my 38-pound luggable clunker? Maybe! But the denizens of Silicon Valley said hell no, and have kept my choice of computers on an evolutionary path. I can do things today on a smartphone that I could not do on a mainframe in the 1970s (and using far less energy, too).

Sure, lack of money sometimes puts a damper on things. A big damper. There’s no free lunch even if you’re not broke. In fact at least one very large corporation has piled a lot of money into making non-petrol based snack bags, and more power to them for the effort. They didn’t give up when the first ones were not well received. They went back to the drawing board and tried again. IT TAKES TIME. We’re running out of time when it comes to making a good switchover to renewable resources.

The fossil fuel industry can grow to be more of a partner in alternative resource development, or not. Either way, it must stop working to squash the necessary development of alternatives. There’s not merely some room for alternatives. A time approaches when only alternatives to oil and gas will serve us well.

Successful innovation is always a matter of trial and error. It takes not only money but time and persistent effort to succeed at anything new. I say let the aging gas and oil industries get out of their own way and start advocating for the development and research needed to roll out efficient, alternative ways of powering our homes, replacing older forms of the necessities and conveniences of our modern life, and meeting our manufacturing and transportation energy requirements. It’s where the future is, if we plan on having one.

Time is moving on, the clock ticking towards that day when petrochemical usage must end. How it ends, how it’s managed, that’s up to us. We can default and allow the game to roll on as it is now, but that’s just stupid: we can already see down that road and no one is left standing.

Jan 27, 2014 6:42pm EST  --  Report as abuse
4825 wrote:

@LizR- I agree with all of your assessment with one exception. I do not believe that the fossil fuel industry is working to squash alternative energy. Most of the executives have the view that they run energy companies, not fossil fuel companies. They put research and development dollars into finding solutions but those solutions do not come along every day and are not cheap to develop. One thing that bothers me a lot is the push by some democrats to increase taxes greatly on corporations income. That is a sure fire way to squash research and innovation because it takes the reward away for success. Similar to new drug development, a lot of money is poured in on the front end development because the reward can be great on the back end.

Jan 27, 2014 9:16pm EST  --  Report as abuse

We are the families on the front lines of Canada’s oil sands development.  What message does it send to the world about Canada’s oil sands production when Baytex Energy (TSE:BTE) is forcing my family and our neighbours from our homes through open venting its oil sands processing tanks?  Penn West Petroleum and other Alberta companies capture their oil sands gasses and run closed systems:  why won’t Baytex (NYSE:BTE) take the same responsibility?  See firsthand for yourself at   Help us get back into our homes.   Breathable air and a thriving energy sector are not mutually exclusive.   Baytex and Canada can do better.  Get the facts at and Facebook at

Jan 27, 2014 9:49pm EST  --  Report as abuse
grice wrote:

Didn’t a natural gas pipeline explode recently in Canada? BTW when is the premier of the movie “BOYS WILL BE BOYS”? Have the Palins been consulted about any acting parts? Is the movie about Sex Trafficking in Alaska? That would be a great subject for Sarah Palin to address.

Jan 28, 2014 1:35am EST  --  Report as abuse

We are the families on the front lines of Canada’s oil sands development.  What message does it send to the world about Canada’s oil sands production when Baytex Energy (TSE:BTE) is forcing my family and our neighbours from our homes through open venting its oil sands processing tanks?  Penn West Petroleum and other Alberta companies capture their oil sands gasses and run closed systems:  why won’t Baytex (NYSE:BTE) take the same responsibility? Help us get back into our homes.   Breathable air and a thriving energy sector are not mutually exclusive.   Baytex and Canada can do better.  StopBaytex

Jan 28, 2014 12:16pm EST  --  Report as abuse
cocosimmi wrote:

I don’t know what the big deal is? Why doesn’t Canada run their pipeline west to the Pacific instead of choosing to endanger the largest water aqueduct in the U.S.?
Of course you have to wonder if that isn’t the idea, that is, to ruin the water supply of the U.S. for special interest profit?
We already know why our food contains lots of cancer causing chemicals and has been depleted of the good things for our bodies. Why? Because special interest lobbyist are manipulating stupid politicians into selling us down the road for financial gain! Just like big oil, anything for a buck!

Jan 30, 2014 11:20am EST  --  Report as abuse
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