McKibben Still Naive on Keystone Pipeline


Environmentalist Bill McKibben, probably the most outspoken opponent of the Keystone XL pipeline and the use of tar sands oil in general, has an article at the Daily Beast taking Hillary Clinton to task for her support of that project. And it seems he still thinks Obama might decide not to approve it:

But the rumor is that Clinton’s State Department is nonetheless about to recommend approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which the top climate scientists in the nation have unanimously called a terrible idea. As far as I know, though, Clinton’s subordinates haven’t reached out to ask them why. For more than a year now, it’s been one of Washington’s worst-kept secrets that Clinton wants the pipeline approved. And why not? Its builder, TransCanada, hired her old deputy campaign manager as its chief lobbyist and gave lobbying contracts to several of her big bundlers. Leaked emails show embassy officials rooting on the project; it’s classic D.C. insiderism. (And, weirdly, her rumored successor is just as involved—Susan Rice has millions in stock in TransCanada and other Canadian energy companies.)

And in one sense it doesn’t make much difference. Everyone in the capital’s also known that the Keystone decision, in the end, will come down to President Obama, who will weigh State’s findings and then rule whether the pipeline is in the national interest. When that happens, we’ll find out if he’s a more modern politician than Hillary, or if he’s still fighting yesterday’s wars too.

He does point out that Obama’s got a pretty poor environmental record, but I fear he’s being a bit naive here. I’d put the chances of Obama turning down the pipeline at about one in a million. It just isn’t going to happen. That pipeline is going to be approved. The decision was made a long time ago and only delayed until after the election out of political convenience. There’s simply too much money at stake. And money rules in this country.

Comments

  1. slc1 says

    I’m sure that “carbon is plant food” Sir Lancelot will think that the pipeline is a great idea.

  2. tassilo says

    Same here – I also think the pipeline is going to be approved, but it will be years before any oil will flow. First the environmental processes have to run their course, and then the record(s) of decision, whatever they will be, will be challenged in court. There is always a chance a god squad could step in and short circuit the whole process, but I doubt it.

  3. Chiroptera says

    And money rules in this country.

    Evidently in Canada too, seeing how they are the other partner who has to sign off on the deal.

  4. baal says

    I’m still wondering what our post civilization descendants will drink. The fossil fuels extractive industry is polluting the aquifers at an alarming rate. It’s not like it’s easy to clean benzene out of a watershead (where is all that waste fracking fluid going? Salon has a piece on the permits for dumping it into various watersheds being handed out with minimal to no review).

    The tar sands oil isn’t a great solution to the need for energy. It’s difficult to process, requires huge amounts of water for extraction and has higher viscosity than the generic crude oil. These issues historically meant that the stuff wasn’t exploited. It’s somewhat worrying that the extractive industry views the tar sands as a viable option.

  5. says

    Chiroptera “Evidently in Canada too, seeing how they are the other partner who has to sign off on the deal.”
    To be fair, it is a big Canadian project. Their share is a ditch from Northern Alberta to the border, with thousands and thousands of formerly unemployed Newfoundlanders with oars paddling on it’s way South. The tough part is half of them smoke.

  6. tassilo says

    “It’s not like it’s easy to clean benzene out of a watershead…”

    It’s pretty damn near impossible to get benzene or other volatile organic compounds out of aquifers.
    As I understand it, a large portion of the pipeline will run over the Ogallala aquifer, which underlies a large part of Nebraska, in addition to other states. If I had the future of my grandchildren and their children in mind, and if I were Nebraskan, I’d say no way in hell to the pipeline. And that’s on top of all of the other environmental damage it will cause.

  7. bobo says

    If the pipeline is not approved, our conservative government will simply build one from Alberta to the British Columbia coast in order to sell the oil to the chinese.

    The pipeline will go through virgin rainforest, and end up on a rocky, unstable coast. The very coast where the Exxon Valdez crashed.

    No matter what happens with this pipeline, the environment is going to suffer. Enbridge, the company building the pipeline, has an abysmal safety track record. There will be spills, in abundance. Groundwater and streams will be contaminated.

    This pipeline does not even need to be built, and it will not provide that many jobs, from what I have heard. The entire plan is just to enrich a tiny # of people, and fuck everyoen else.

  8. Michael Heath says

    Ed writes:

    He does point out that Obama’s got a pretty poor environmental record, but I fear he’s being a bit naive here. I’d put the chances of Obama turning down the pipeline at about one in a million. It just isn’t going to happen. That pipeline is going to be approved. The decision was made a long time ago and only delayed until after the election out of political convenience. There’s simply too much money at stake. And money rules in this country.

    I haven’t followed this story closely, but when I have the president has seemed very consistently supportive of approving it. The issue which got conservative panties in a knot was a manufactured controversy given the Administration’s delay was in regards to routes found objectionable by two states, it was never a rejection of the pipeline itself.

    I have not encountered the type of analysis I’d like to see in order to evaluate my support for this project or not. That would be a scenario where we move off coal as fast as possible but then consider the marginal emissions from this project to understand the cost/benefit.

    We know we have to move off coal asap. McKibben’s “top scientists” probably refer at least to James Hansen. My problem with Hansen’s disqualification was the lack of an analysis like the one above. Hansen’s analysis is dead-on right based on the premises he used, but not helpful if we were to drill-down into scenarios beyond Hansen’s ‘business-as-usual’ scenario, which is a no-brainer no but not helpful to policy makers who are going to have both compromise and pick their battles.

  9. says

    “If the pipeline is not approved, our conservative government will simply build one from Alberta to the British Columbia coast in order to sell the oil to the chinese.”

    If it goes through the US, it will also be sold to the Chinese. Or whoever else is willing to pay for it.

    I don’t know why people haven’t asked themselves why the pipeline is going clear through to the other side of the country if its product is intended for domestic consumption. In the end, it doesn’t really matter, since effectively all oil produced in the world is put into a giant pool, and all oil consumed comes out of that pool. But the purpose of the pipeline is to reduce transportation costs for the producers of that particular oil, and has really fuck-all to do with the interests of anyone else. Those producers will pocket the extra profits, we’ll still pay the same world-wide market price as we otherwise would, and when spills occur, the rest of us are forced to pay for them one way or the other.

  10. slc1 says

    Re MH @ #9

    That would be a scenario where we move off coal as fast as possible but then consider the marginal emissions from this project to understand the cost/benefit.

    If MH is proposing that we move off coal (a strategy with which I am in full agreement), switching to fuel oil makes no sense. It’s natural gas that is in surplus today and that’s what we should be switching to. Natural gas puts out 1/2 the CO(2) as does burning coal to produce the same amount of electricity. I fully recognize the drawbacks of fracking and suggest that the technology be carefully monitored by the EPA for possible ground water contamination. However, the environmental impacts of the pipeline, which Mr. Brayton has commented upon in this blog previously, are at least as environmentally questionable as fracking.

  11. dmcclean says

    So, if I have this right, you are criticizing him for being “naive” because he is down two touchdowns early in the fourth quarter and we says to his team “hey guys, look, we are still in this one. pull it together and get a couple of big plays and anything can happen” instead of “listen guys, no matter how hard you work we just aren’t gonna win this one because the other team is better and they already have more points than us, so take it easy out there.”

    Ed, you’re almost always right, but I think you’ve got this one wrong. I would go so far as to say that the real naivete lies in interpreting a policy campaigner’s statements for public consumption as reflective of his or her assessment of the situation as opposed to what he or she thinks will be most likely to bring about his or her policy objectives.

Trackbacks

  1. burberry borsa Controllare Burberry Sciarpa di cashmere multicolore fitta e rigogliosa. Molto morbido e fine light.Both ornate con la perla finezza clean.Coming fringed.Cashmere.Dry con scatola regalo nera e scheda seriale. 180 * 33cm Burberry e famo…

    Controllare Burberry Sciarpa di cashmere multicolore fitta e rigogliosa. Molto morbido e fine light.Both ornate con la perla finezza clean.Coming fringed.Cashmere.Dry con scatola regalo nera e scheda seriale. 180 * 33cm Burberry e famoso per il suo des…

Leave a Reply