I break blogging silence to note that my friend Cory Heidelberger has written an astonishing post on the Keystone XL pipeline. He notes the recent news that Canada is considering building a pipeline headed east to the Atlantic. Given that the case against Keystone XL was that the tar sands oil should not harvested at all, it is somewhat surprising to note the triumph with which Cory greets the news.
As long as America and the industrialized world remains addicted to oil, there's probably no getting around pipelines. But if we buck long enough, we might get the pipelines to go around us…
Running even more tar sands oil through Canada instead of South Dakota wouldn't make Bill McKibben, climate-change crusaders, or alternative-energy advocates happy. But it would keep South Dakotans from bearing the costs of a pipeline that does not serve South Dakota interests.
And if Energy East supplants Keystone XL, it will be because committed activists kept up the pressure that forced the market to seek other solutions. That's not a total win, but it's better than nothing.
I call this astonishing for two reasons. One is that my friend all but concedes the single most important argument in favor of the pipeline. Two reviews of the pipeline project by the State Department, the second one superfluous, and both of them ignored by the President, resulted in approval. The State Department concluded that Keystone XL would have little or no impact on global emissions because the oil is coming out of the ground in one direction or another.
Mr. Heidelberger doesn’t care much, even though his source has this:
[The proposed pipeline’s] 4,600-kilometer (2,858-mile) path, taking advantage of a vast length of existing and underused natural gas pipeline, would wend through six provinces and four time zones. It would be Keystone on steroids, more than twice as long and carrying a third more crude.
Is that really better for the global environment than Keystone XL? And how does forcing “the market to seek other solutions” add up to a win for “committed activists” if it results in another long pipeline? So much for the environmental arguments against Keystone.
I note that among the “costs” that South Dakota would have to bear from the pipeline is the $10 million a year in property taxes, which would represent a windfall for several of our rural counties. There are also the jobs that would be created and sustained in oil refineries on our Gulf Coast. I also note Cory’s now vanished complaint that the tar sands oil would go to China. Perhaps this is because of the recent EU decision not to ban this oil, some of which is already being shipped to Europe.
Cory’s argument has collapsed to a simple “not in my backyard” objection. Let it run under someone else’s organic farm.