‘Keystone Cops’ score dubious win [pipeline delay] – by Diane Francis (National Post – November 12, 2011)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

“Frankly, Canada and Alberta have badly handled the public
relations when it comes to Keystone and remediation could
help the situation because the White House has opted in
favour of its environmental wing at the expense of the
organized labour one.” (Financial Post Columnist – Diane Francis)

President Barack Obama has kicked the can down the road by postponing until 2013 – after the next U.S. election – permission to build Canada’s Keystone XL oil sands pipeline to Texas.

This decision, in essence, strands the oil sands indefinitely and shuts it out of the U.S. market for years, if not forever. It’s being billed as a temporary setback, but it’s a major and devastating development.

The excuse is a new route is going to be sought to avoid putting pipelines across the aquifer that straddles midAmerica. The reality is the environmental movement, not an aquifer, straddles the United States and cannot be circumvented. The Keystone, and Canada’s oil sands, has become the environmental movement’s line in the sand in a battle to shut down fossil fuel usage even though there are no alternative fuels for 20 or 30 more years.

These Keystone Cops have scored a victory that likely marks the beginning of a de facto pipeline moratorium south of the border. And this could cripple America’s economy and energy industries.

Keystone has received approvals over a number of years from dozens of environmental and other government agencies, been scrutinized more than other projects and yet, in the end, has had its permit postponed on environmental grounds.

This postponement – a rejection by any other name – whets the appetite of a movement that not only opposes “dirty” oil from Canada, but also fiercely opposes the exploitation of shale gas, or deep natural gas, deposits. They are attacking shale gas even though it generates dramatically lower emissions equivalent to roughly one-quarter that generated by oil.

Already, a week ago the CEO of a major U.S. power utility issued a warning that the massive amounts of shale gas may remain shut because of the difficulty of getting permission to build pipelines linking the deposits to power plants or consumers. Now, post-Keystone, his warning represents a more frightening spectre because a gas pipeline is even more unacceptable to environmentalists than an oil one.

The Interstate Natural Gas Association of America Foundation estimates companies will need to build 35,600 miles of big, high-pressure natural gas pipelines between 2011 and 2035 to meet market demands at a cost of $178-billion.

Good luck. Of course, there are those who would argue this is just a postponement and not a de facto moratorium on all pipelines. They argue a Republican President will permit the pipeline. That’s questionable. The biggest obstacle at the end was the legal challenge mounted by the Republican governor of Nebraska who vowed to fight the pipeline to prevent it from traversing his state.

Others argue that once an acceptable route is found around the aquifer, the pipeline will be built.

That’s also questionable. There’s not a governor anywhere who will want this high-profile pipeline routed through his or her state or will want to take on the transnational, non-state players that power the environmental movement.

For the rest of this article, please go to the National Post/Fincancial Post website: http://www.financialpost.com/opinion/columnists/Keystone+Cops+score+dubious/5700807/story.html