Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted February 3, 2014
The Keystone XL pipeline now is in the “national interest determination” phase of a long process to gain federal approval for construction. Having cleared its fifth State Department environmental review, the project is to be judged by on whether its construction serves the U.S. national interest. Last week’s State Department report listed the key factors that go into that determination:
To make this decision (i.e., the National Interest Determination), the Secretary of State, through the Department, considers many factors, including energy security; environmental, cultural, and economic impacts; foreign policy; and compliance with relevant state and federal regulations.
Let’s examine some of these. First, energy security: Would construction of the full Keystone XL pipeline further the energy security of the United States?
Posted January 31, 2014
All along, many of the folks who’ve wanted the Obama administration to nix the Keystone XL pipeline have acknowledged opposition to the project as symbolic, more or less conceding that when it came to arguing the actual merits of the pipeline – jobs, economic stimulus, greater U.S. energy security – they didn’t have much and sometimes only a disingenuous imagination.
For example, author/Keystone XL activist Naomi Klein:
“It is not just about Keystone XL. This is about climate change and Keystone XL is the symbol. Everyone knows that if we stop this pipeline the climate crisis isn’t solved.”
And NextGen’s Tom Steyer:
“There’s definitely a symbolic side to this. It has become, you know, a symbol in some ways in the fight over how to think about this. And that happens sometimes. Sometimes, specific incidents take on a life of their own.”
And Steyer advisor Kate Gordon:
“The goal is as much about organizing young people around a thing. But you have to have a thing.”
Well, here’s the thing: Most Americans prefer jobs, growth and energy – in other words, substance – over symbolism. They want the full Keystone XL pipeline built, reflected in poll after poll after poll. Which is why the U.S. State Department’s new assessment is welcome progress in a process that passed the five-year mark last fall. It found that whether Keystone XL is approved or denied, oil sands extraction is unlikely to be affected – and hence the project would not lead to a surge in greenhouse gas emissions
Posted December 27, 2013
The long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline and whether President Obama will agree with a strong majority of Americans who believe that the full project is in the U.S. national interest landed on a couple of year-ending lists of top energy issues, here andhere, no doubt reflecting the politics surrounding the pipeline’s five-year federal review.
Much of politicizing has been fueled by opponents who say stopping Keystone XL will stop oil sands development. The U.S. State Department disagreed in its most recent review, citing key economic factors that argue oil sands will get to market with or without the Keystone XL. The dynamic already is at work.
Last week, Canada’s National Energy Board recommended approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline to bring as much as 525,000 barrels a day of oil sands from Alberta to British Columbia. At the same time others are making plans to build loading terminals to service oil sands-bearing railroad cars. Demand for supply is driving the infrastructure needed to deliver that supply.
The question for the U.S. concerns the impact of Washington’s never-ending deliberation over the Keystone XL, even as other infrastructure for delivering oil sands moves toward reality.
Posted December 12, 2013
U.S. voters continue to support approval of the full Keystone XL pipeline by strong, bipartisan majorities. A new Harris Interactive survey of 1,025 registered voters found that 72 percent agree it is in the United States’ national interest to approve the Keystone XL so it can deliver North American oil to U.S. refineries. In poll after poll, Americans have said: Build the Keystone XL.
Posted December 10, 2013
Saw the tweet from energy author/scholar Daniel Yergin on the startup of TransCanada’s Gulf Coast Pipeline, linking the crude oil hub in Cushing, Okla., with refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast.
Certainly, the shot of President Obama standing in front of stacks of steel pipe last year is a reminder that he went to Oklahoma to illustrate his administration’s support for the 485-mile project.
Yet, commercial startup of the project also reminds that the Gulf Coast Pipeline is part of the larger Keystone XL project, which would allow more Canadian oil sands to be delivered to U.S. refiners. The Keystone XL’s northern portion remains on the drawing board and workers idle on the sidelines after more than five years of federal review.
Posted November 18, 2013
Big Ethanol Finally Loses
Wall Street Journal (editorial): It's not often that the ethanol lobby suffers a policy setback in Washington, but it got its head handed to it Friday. The Environmental Protection Agency announced that for the first time it is lowering the federal mandate that dictates how much ethanol must be blended into the nation's gasoline. It's about time. It's been about time from the moment the ethanol mandate came to life in the 1970s.
The 16% reduction is a modest pullback, which EPA says will hold ethanol blends in gasoline at the standard 10% (E10). But we hope this is a precedent-setting victory. After 35 years of exaggerations about the benefits of renewable fuels, the industry has lost credibility.
Posted November 1, 2013
Lawmakers Urge EPA to Change Fuel Mandate
The Hill: More than 100 lawmakers are calling on Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthy to reduce the amount of ethanol that oil refiners must blend into gasoline next year.
Signed by 169 House members, the letter sent to McCarthy on Thursday urged the EPA to lower the renewable fuel standard (RFS), arguing the current mandate is unrealistic.
"Whether it’s increasing amounts of ethanol in fuel or higher food and feed prices, the RFS continues to negatively impact American consumers and the economy," Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said in a statement.
Posted October 31, 2013
Canadian Oil Hits the Rails
New York Times: HOUSTON — Over the past two years, environmentalists have chained themselves to the White House fence and otherwise coalesced around stopping the Keystone XL pipeline as their top priority in the fight against global warming.
But even if President Obama rejects the pipeline, it might not matter much. Oil companies are already building rail terminals to deliver oil from western Canada to the United States, and even to Asia.
Since July, plans have been announced for three large loading terminals in western Canada with the combined capacity of 350,000 barrels a day — equivalent to roughly 40 percent of the capacity of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that is designed to bring oil from western Alberta to refineries along the Gulf Coast.
Over all, Canada is poised to quadruple its rail-loading capacity over the next few years to as much as 900,000 barrels a day, up from 180,000 today.
Read more: http://nyti.ms/1aqEagq
Posted September 19, 2013
Five years … and counting. The Keystone XL pipeline now has been under consideration by the Obama administration for five years – or about twice as long as it would take to complete the project linking Canada’s oil sands region with U.S. refiners onthe Gulf Coast and longer than a number of iconic projects highlighted here by the folks at Oil Sands Fact Check. So, what have we learned?
First, there’s the power of politics. Opponents of oil sands – and, generally, all fossil fuels – have waged a war of proxy against a shovel-ready project that would create tens of thousands of U.S. jobs, stimulate the economy and make our country more energy secure. Unfortunately, the Keystone XL has been turned into a symbol for an off-oil political agenda that’s detached from fact and reason
Posted September 16, 2013
Let’s see: Five years is 1,825 days, which is a pretty long time. Long enough to build the Hoover Dam, and long enough for Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. It’s long enough for Lewis & Clark to explore the American West and for the U.S. and its allies to win World War II.
But it’s not long enough for the Obama administration to approve construction of the full Keystone XL pipeline – and in the process side with 82 percent of Americans who want it built and clear the way for thousands of new U.S. jobs and greater U.S. energy security. Not long enough.