Keystone XL pipeline supporters hail U.S. election shift

Olympia, Washington. Keystone XL Pipeline protest Feb. 2013. Image by Brylie Oxley

Olympia, Washington. Keystone XL Pipeline protest Feb. 2013. Image by Brylie Oxley, Creative Commons

The long-stalled and controversial Keystone XL pipeline may be another “winner” in the recent mid-term election results.

True, there are still obstacles in the project’s path. This recent CBC article details 5 potential hurdles: public opposition, the project’s price tag, falling oil prices, a Nebraska court challenge and a possible Presidential veto.

But the vote counters say the electoral shift means the project has attained filibuster-proof support in the U.S. Senate. President Obama could be forced to approve the XL pipeline, should it be bundled with “must-pass” legislation. Or he could simply decide the tide has turned and that’s no longer a political battle worth winning, a possibility he is said to be considering.

Here’s a highly unscientific assessment of what’s coming. On Nov 4, the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart chatted with Reince Priebus, head of the Republican National Committee. In just a few short minutes, Priebus specifically mentioned the XL pipeline — not once but twice — as something that his party wants to get done. Soon.

Indeed, according to media reports, Priebus has stated:

“We will pass a budget in both chambers, number one,” Priebus said. “And we will pass the Keystone pipeline, number two. And I actually think the president will sign the bill on the Keystone pipeline.”

With strong support in Canada’s current government and stronger legislative backing in the U.S. Congress, opponents may be left with falling oil prices or the courts as their best hope for stopping XL.

Any predictions?

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18 Comments on “Keystone XL pipeline supporters hail U.S. election shift”

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  1. everGreen says:

    This type of short-sighted legislation is precisely why most Americans are tuning out of our democracy. The wildfire of unlimited, untraceable corporate cash burning through every level of our government is leaving the majority of us charred in its wake. Yes, Keystone XL will create short and intermediate employment but at what cost? Science tells us we must immediately transition to a zero-carbon economy yet our Koch Congress begs to differ. Which group has the most incentive to lie? There is an alternative solution. Recently, solar reached price parity with conventional electricity generation in 47 US states. Intermittency issues can be resolved by employing modular, liquid metal batteries using cheap, earth abundant elements. If either party had our best interests at heart they would end the billions in subsidies to the dinosaur industry and make them compete on a level playing field. Force companies who produce and refine fossil fuels to pay a carbon tax and pass that revenue directly on to the American people. If tar sands and frack gas are so great, why not let them compete on the open market and see how far they get, that is if “our” Congress can resist lending them a hand.

  2. Mr. Kent says:

    If anyone thinks this will lower the cost of oil products or gas, they are mistaken. The price of oil is determined by a global market price per barrel. There are no hometown discounts just because it came from here. Add in that we are an exporter of oil, especially to China, and the fact oil companies in the US are calling for us to drill LESS oil now because the price per barrel has dropped to around $77 a barrel and the only way to keep the price up is to drill less, it is a strange and odd choice indeed to run this pipeline strait to the ships that will export it to other countries.
    This is not about energy independence, it is about creating a savings account for the big oil/gas producers so they can better control the market place in the future.

  3. The Original Larry says:

    The opposition to the Keystone pipeline reminds me very much of the opposition to the trans Alaska pipeline in the early 1970s. 40 years later it seems the positives of the Alaska pipeline far outweigh any of the negatives. What is different now?

  4. Peter Hahn says:

    OL- the oil is worse, the pollution potential the same (bad) and there are other ways to get it out.

  5. Michael Greer says:

    Larry seems to have forgotten the Exxon Valdez

  6. Michael Greer says:

    If we take away the 600 billion that supports the coal, gas, and oil companies with research and development money, the tar sands will stay safely in the ground, the frackers will all get good jobs installing solar panels, and the coal miners can be put to work building wind farms and tidal generators.
    The fossil fuel corporations have an agenda to dig and burn it all, and they will proceed, even if that path takes us all to the fires of hell.

  7. Peter Hahn says:

    I thought it costs $80 a barrel to get that tar sands oil to market. If the price of oil now is $77 per barrel there is no point in that pipeline anyway.

  8. The Original Larry says:

    I guess the answer to my question is: nothing has changed. Some people will say anything, factual, logical or not, to oppose any activity at all by the oil & gas industry. Your cost/benefit “analysis” is a good case in point. The oil industry would never spend billions on a pipeline that would not be profitable; it just doesn’t make sense. Take a closer look at the “consequences” of the Alaska Pipeline. The overall benefit has been overwhelmingly positive. Sorry if that doesn’t fit your negative narrative.

  9. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    OL, maybe it is your narrative that is the negative one and missing out on facts. The oil and gas industry spends money on stuff that isn’t profitable all the time, exploration and development is extremely expensive, and we subsidize them to the tune of billions of dollars. What you may not be considering is the lost opportunity. Had we spent more money on research for alternatives to oil and gas, on efficiency and on conservation efforts we could be living in a world where we would be spending less on the detrimental effects of burning billions of gallons of hydrocarbons AND we would have more oil and gas in the ground to be able to use long into the future.

  10. Mr. Kent says:

    OL. I understand your talking points, but you have no skin in the game. Not one of those 2,000 miles of construction is going through your backyard, just as no one is getting ready to frack on the land next to you. So it makes it very easy for you or I to have an honest opinion.
    Now tell me this, do the people who are directly affected get a say in it? The people who live where it is going through? Or do you believe in eminent domain and the Government ( congressional approval, Senate approval) being all that is needed to tell them what will happen regardless if they like it or not.

  11. The Original Larry says:

    These aren’t talking points, not at all. I’m merely wondering if the opposition to Keystone isn’t similar to the opposition to the Trans Alaska pipeline and many other oil & gas initiatives: unfounded claims of incipient disaster, wild speculation and out-and-out fear-mongering, all in the name of protecting the environment, which doesn’t need that kind of protection.

  12. Peter Hahn says:

    Larry – yes I also think it the opposition is similar. But in addition, there is now global warming/climate change. I’m not so sure people are worried about the pristine Nebraska farmland, although the aquifer is an important resource.

  13. Peter Hahn says:

    Actually Larry the more I think about it the more they are different. The Alaska pipeline fight was about not spoiling the pristine wilderness. And as Michael Greer points out the Exxon Valdiz validated that concern. The xL pipeline concern is really more about the oil itself. But they are both pipelines that carry oil. And it is about the environment.

  14. Jim McCulley says:

    Peter the best option for the environment is growing economy’s with fossil fuels powering their growth. America leading the way with capitalism allowing for a clean environment has shown this to be true. Take a look at the island of Española if you want to see the benefit of fossil fuels. One side is the Dominican Republic with propane fired cooking and lush forest. The other side is Haiti wood fire cooking and a totally deforested landscape. I am sure you will claim we can go to alternatives, but at this point it is simply not true. The worst polluters on earth are communist/socialist building solar panels and batteries for hybrid user that think they are green.

  15. The Original Larry says:

    The Exxon Valdez validated nothing about the pipeline. It was a maritime transportation disaster that could have occurred anywhere. Blaming it on the pipeline is like blaming a car crash on the gas station you filled up at.

  16. Peter Hahn says:

    Jim – as I am sure you know, fossil fuels are carbon polymers and burning them spews carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The issue in the short run is whether or not we include the cost of dealing with the excess carbon into the price of fuel, or put it off on our grandchildren. It will take a much bigger bite out of the economy to deal with the cleanup than it would if we deal with it now. The estimates for cost to the economy now vary from small to negligible. But there will be a few winners and a few losers. The potential losers are complaining loudly (coal miners and the oil industry). The worst polluters now are the Chinese coal fired power plants not the solar power factories.

  17. Peter Hahn says:

    The Exon Valdiz was carrying oil from the pipeline to the refinery. It was part of the system and created a monumental environmental (and economic) disaster. It is exactly the kind of thing people were worried aboutl There were also leaks from the pipeline itself, but nothing like the shipping disaster. It is not fair to say it (the Exon Valdiz disaster) had nothing to do with the pipeline.

  18. The Original Larry says:

    I’m well aware of the magnitude of the Exxon Valdez accident, but it had nothing to do with the pipeline other than coincidentally, that’s where it filled up. The same accident might have happened (and has happened) in many other places. Loaded tankers travel the globe every day. Doesn’t matter where they fill up or unload.

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