Obama rejects Keystone XL Pipeline proposal

But that doesn’t mean the end of the pipeline, or Canada’s tar sands.

The U.S. government has denied an application by TransCanada to build the Keystone XL pipeline, the State Department announced Wednesday.

A statement released by the department said it doesn’t preclude TransCanada applying again with a different route.

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said the government hopes a new TransCanada application will be approved, but Canada is going to look to other markets to sell its oil.

Coming as it does so soon after the pipeline plans were apparently shelved until after the 2012 election, this is good news. Why’d Obama reject the proposal? Mostly because of the huge rush Republicans put on the passage of the proposal.

Obama’s press release:

Office of the Press Secretary
January 18, 2012

Statement by the President on the Keystone XL Pipeline

Earlier today, I received the Secretary of State’s recommendation on the pending application for the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. As the State Department made clear last month, the rushed and arbitrary deadline insisted on by Congressional Republicans prevented a full assessment of the pipeline’s impact, especially the health and safety of the American people, as well as our environment. As a result, the Secretary of State has recommended that the application be denied. And after reviewing the State Department’s report, I agree.

This announcement is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline, but the arbitrary nature of a deadline that prevented the State Department from gathering the information necessary to approve the project and protect the American people. I’m disappointed that Republicans in Congress forced this decision, but it does not change my Administration’s commitment to American-made energy that creates jobs and reduces our dependence on oil. Under my Administration, domestic oil and natural gas production is up, while imports of foreign oil are down. In the months ahead, we will continue to look for new ways to partner with the oil and gas industry to increase our energy security –including the potential development of an oil pipeline from Cushing, Oklahoma to the Gulf of Mexico – even as we set higher efficiency standards for cars and trucks and invest in alternatives like biofuels and natural gas. And we will do so in a way that benefits American workers and businesses without risking the health and safety of the American people and the environment.

And why the rush? Why, to try to hamstring environmental impact assessments obviously, since they know damn well the original Keystone pipeline has had environmentally devastating leaks, and the Keystone XL passes right through one of North America’s biggest and most important aquifers.

We have less than five years to get our shit together or we’re pretty much doomed. Maybe we should consider honouring all those calls to build nuclear and wind farms while pouring money into development of proper solar technology, like the environmentalists have been suggesting ever since we discovered that humans are responsible for the current anthropogenic global warming back in the 1970s.

Today, though, we’re still fighting with idiots about whether CO2 causes warming — something we’ve known definitively since 1896 and can prove in a home experiment with heat lamps and soda bottles. And how far along are we in switching over to nuclear and wind and tidal and geothermal and improving solar tech? Certainly not far enough.

Maybe we as a species don’t deserve to overcome this particular problem. Maybe we should let petty greed overcome our better angels of rationality and self-preservation. Hell of a way to go, though.

Obama rejects Keystone XL Pipeline proposal

8 thoughts on “Obama rejects Keystone XL Pipeline proposal

  1. 3

    Maybe we should consider honouring all those calls to build nuclear and wind farms while pouring money into development of proper solar technology,

    I couldn’t agree more, people require energy and until there is another method fossil fuels will be used.

  2. 4

    Something like 80% of the world’s energy comes from fossil fuels right now, and it isn’t because people thought that windmills were dumb looking and that the sky looks better with smog 40 years ago.

    Its because a coal or gas fired power plant has about a 60 year lifespan minimum – that is a huge infrastructure investment to ask companies and municipalities to throw out the window. This doesn’t even touch other oil related infrastructure in place.

    Turning this ship is going to be a slow and laborious process – and I think the only way we wouldn’t be at 80% today was if we never started burning oil for power in the first place.

    But hey, if someone could find a way to make dismantling old plants and replacing them with green energy cheaper than keeping coal and oil fired plants running until their lifespan is up, then we could probably do it pretty damn fast.

  3. 5

    … ever since we discovered that humans are responsible for the current anthropogenic global warming back in the 1970s.

    Actually, we’ve known about Human Induced Rapid Global Overheating (or HIRGO as I call it) many long decades before that.

    From the Svante Arrhenius wikipedia page :

    in 1896 he was the first scientist to speculate that changes in the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could substantially alter the surface temperature through the greenhouse effect.[4] He was influenced by the work of others, including Joseph Fourier. Arrhenius used the infrared observations of the moon by Frank Washington Very and Samuel Pierpont Langley at the Allegheny Observatory in Pittsburgh to calculate the absorption of infrared radiation by atmospheric CO2 and water vapour. Using ‘Stefan’s law’ (better known as the Stefan Boltzmann law), he formulated his greenhouse law. In its original form, Arrhenius’ greenhouse law reads as follows:

    if the quantity of carbonic acid increases in geometric progression, the augmentation of the temperature will increase nearly in arithmetic progression.

    This simplified expression is still used today.

    (Italics original.)

    Mind you we call it Carbon dioxide now – so we knew about the Greenhouse effect – anthropogenic and otherwise -vene before we called C02 carbon dioxide. We knew about it back in the 1950’s and 60’s.

    This clip :


    from 1956 includes climatologist Gilbert M. Plass explaining HIRGO back then -and the knowledege and evdience has only gotten stronger in the 56 years since then.

  4. 6

    It might have been postulated before, but I think it started gaining traction after the mass media glommed onto one scientist claiming there was a cooling trend since the 1940s (when really he was looking at some very cherry-picked data). And in fact, GS Callendar said in the 1930s that warming was happening, and was probably the first scientist to do so, so if we’re going by “first person to postulate”, I’d go with Callendar.

    I use the 1970s as the rough time for when humans pretty much proved definitively that not only could CO2 warm the atmosphere, but that humans had increased the atmospheric concentration, and the planet had warmed as a result.

    So we’ve been fighting this same fight against the big corporations determined to forestall any meaningful action since the 70s. The history of global warming is pretty tangled, and long, and there were early pioneers in the field, but I do have a reason for giving the date I did.

  5. 8

    This pipeline is INEVITABLE. Don’t like at all what the Canadians (wonder how much US $$ in involved?) have created, but I do beleive the focus ought to be on a NON-LEAKING pipeline, AND cleaner emissions when burned – IF that is all that can be accomplished at present. Just sayin’.

    Big Oil is SO firmly entrenched in ALL our daily lives (and I am doing my best to eliminate it from mine) at SO MANY levels that as Ursula pointed out it is going to take a while to turn this tanker around so we need to CONTROL it better while it is still sailing. Same for NG.

    A sugesstion; Think more in terms of HEATING one’s domicile with SOLAR rather than producing electricity – that is STILL for the upper-middle classes and the wealthy. Could use a law (and I am not a fan of rules and regs – in general) PERHAPS that requires homes over certain price to do the PV thing. I say that based on that if one can afford an overly-large domicile….

    See, I once got a call from a contractor that wanted me to cut my electrical estimate/bid so the home-owners could afford to “put in a hot tub”. Said “screw that, but will cut a deal to run a 220V cable to the deck for a FUTURE (when they CAN afford it) or better yet a line 110V circuit for SOLAR-HEATED water PUMPS.” They settled on the 220V cable and decided to wait a bit on the hot tub. That is how many humans are – want, want, want, want, want…

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