American Elephants


Opposition to Keystone Pipeline is a Big Loser for Obama by The Elephant's Child

The House of Representatives passed legislation that extends transportation funding through September. Attached to the bill is a mandate for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast. President Obama threatened to veto, but 69 Democrats abandoned the president to vote with the Republicans.The bill passed in the House 293 – 127. That is a significant number of defections.

Speaker John Boehner said” “The House is on record again in support of the Keystone XL pipeline — a project President Obama blocked, personally lobbied against, then tried to take credit for, and now says he’ll veto. There’s no telling where the president stands from one day to the next on Keystone, but he knows the pipeline has broad and bipartisan support in Congress and among the American people.”

President Obama was widely criticized for his opposition to the pipeline, and his objections had little support in fact. It was a major affront to the Canadians, and has certainly not improved relations with our closest neighbors. There are 20,000 jobs n prospect, many in construction, many permanent, and many spin-off jobs in the surrounding economy. The pipeline had been approved by the State Department and vetted by every applicable agency, but the Greens are opposed, because they are opposed to fossil fuels.

A lot of Democrats up for re-election are well aware of how popular the Keystone XL is, and support for the Keystone is growing in the Senate. In a vote last month 11 Democrats joined the Republicans 47 votes, which is not far from the 60 required to break Harry Reid’s filibuster. People want this thing.

This puts Obama in a very difficult position. If he chooses to veto, the veto would probably be upheld in the Senate, as overriding the veto would take 67 votes. But attempting to stop it would hurt Obama, who has already been badly damaged by his earlier intransigence. Obama may believe that Americans don’t know anything about  the problem, and won’t notice, but that would be a bad gamble.

An inevitability to be much desired.



Hard Choices: What’s Right Or What Will Buy Votes. by The Elephant's Child

Expectations about public policy have an enormous impact
on the market price of gasoline.

Holman Jenkins, writing in the Wall Street Journal, points out that candidate Gingrich’s energy  plan would put “the U.S. government unambiguously in favor of cheaper gasoline. He’d arguably be the first president since Reagan who didn’t believe gasoline is a bad, obsolete product and priced too low.”

Don’t underestimate the psychological and political upheaval this would bring about. For decades, U.S. policy has been riven with a costly ambiguity about Washington’s real aim for gasoline prices. In 2008, both parties nominated climate warriors for president, and both parties at times have favored dramatically increased fuel-mileage mandates, which imply higher gas prices unless Washington intends auto makers to go broke selling vehicles consumers don’t want.

For decades, too, the EPA, in pursuit of relatively small air quality gains, has been allowed to balkanize the U.S. refining market with “boutique” fuels, driving up the price everywhere. For decades, environmentalists have been empowered to put domestic resources off-limits not just to preserve pristine nature, but to express disapproval of our energy “addiction.”

Every once in a while these urges even threaten to coalesce into coherence with an outright policy of higher gasoline prices, as when the Clinton administration flirted with a BTU tax or the Obama administration plumped for cap and trade.

Back in the real world, politicians are in a state of panic when faced with the higher gasoline prices that are a direct result of their policies. President Obama was confronted with this paradox  at the White House press conference this week. His response was interesting: “Do you think the president of the United States going into re-election wants gas prices to go up higher? Is there anybody here who thinks that makes a lot of sense?”

When Obama took office, gasoline prices averaged $1.89 a gallon.  Today, here in Washington state, the average is hovering right around $4.00, though the national average is lightly lower. Democrats in Congress are considering ways to go after “oil speculators.” The president is more interested in going after the oil company CEOs. The 1%, you know.

On Thursday, the Senate voted on an amendment that would fast-track the $7 billion, shovel-ready Keystone XL pipeline. Eleven Senate Democrats crossed the aisle to vote to eliminate the need for a federal permit and addressed environmentalists concerns by allowing Nebraskans to determine the route. Senate Republicans voted unanimously for Keystone, which would bring 830,000 barrels of crude oil from Alberta to gulf refineries, easing supplies and creating thousands of much-needed jobs.

The president put his press conference response aside and worked the phones hard, lobbying Senate Democrats, The final vote was 56–42, meaning a majority voted to strip the president of authority to block the pipeline, but it was 4 short of a filibuster 60-vote threshold to make it stick. Obama owns the Keystone XL Debacle.

Obama’s constant refrain “There’s no silver bullet” does not hold. Here are just a few things that could bring the price of gasoline down.  State and federal taxes on gasoline average 45.7 cents a gallon, with the  highest in New York at a combined 67.4 cents a gallon, and the low in Alaska at 26.4 cents.  A number of analysts have noted that the Fed’s devaluation of the dollar has led directly to higher oil prices, adding as much as 56 cents a gallon.

Federal and state rules require about 18 separate boutique fuels, or local blends, about what can be and can’t be in their fuels. Sen. Roy Blunt has offered a bill to give the EPA more authority to waive these local rules. There are a long list of environmental rules— in 1999 the EPA required refiners to drastically cut the amount of sulfur in gasoline and diesel which cost the industry almost $5 billion and $1.5 each year. Environmental rules have driven smaller refiners out of business, closing 4 on the East Coast which makes gas more expensive in the region.

Environmental rules require refiners to add 6.6 million gallons of “advanced biofuels” to their product. The law has cost refiners almost $7 million in fines, since these advanced biofuels don’t exist commercially and nobody knows if they will, which means bigger fines as the mandated amount increases.

So, there is not much that a president can do about the world price of oil, but there’s a lot that is quite possible to do in this country to lower the cost — if one so chose.



The History is Clear, Says Jay Carney; The Republicans Cancelled the Keystone XL Pipeline by The Elephant's Child

I just wrote a whole post on how the Democrats consistently attempt to redefine problems away.  The American people have been justifiably angered at President Obama’s cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline and the 20,000 jobs that the project would offer, beginning almost immediately. And the guesstimated 250,000 spinoff jobs along the pipeline route for restaurants, stores, truckers, that  the pipeline would generate as the pipeline stretched down from Canada to the refineries in Texas and Oklahoma are a tremendous loss to a country where the unemployment rate has gone back up to 9% according to Gallup.

Today’s redefiner is the hapless Jay Carney, press secretary.

“In terms of Keystone, as you all know, the history here is pretty clear. And the fact is because Republicans decided to play politics with Keystone, their action essentially forced the administration to deny the permit process because they insisted on a time frame in which it was impossible to completely approve the pipeline,” Carney said when asked about the pipeline by ABC News’ Jake Tapper.

Later in the briefing, Carney says it is the Republicans’ fault.

Jake Tapper: “How can you say that you have an all the above on approach if the President turned down the Keystone pipeline? And you blame the Republicans for making it political.”

Carney: “But the President didn’t turn down the Keystone pipeline. There was a process in place, with long precedent, run out of the State Department because of the issue of the pipeline crossing an international boundary, that required an amount of time for proper for review after an alternate route was deemed necessary through Nebraska at the request of the Republican Governor of Nebraska and other stakeholders in Nebraska and the region that needed to play out, to be done appropriately. You can’t review and approve a pipeline, the route for which doesn’t even exist.

“The Republicans were the ones who unfortunately decided because they were looking for scalps, I guess, or wins in a situation where they somehow found themselves on the wrong side of cutting taxes for 160 million Americans last December.”

After three years, we know that nothing is ever Obama’s fault. Bush left him a mess, and they just didn’t understand how deep the recession was. If they had known, then Obama wouldn’t have been comparing it to the Great Depression— Oh wait…

There was a process in place, with long precedent, run out of the State Department, that had all of the necessary approvals and a green light from every agency with any involvement, and all those pipelines already running through the aquifer with a long history of safety were all fine and the State Department was ready to go ahead until Big Green suggested that their campaign funding might not be available if the pipeline went through.

This administration really does have great contempt for the American people. We’re not just “bitter clingers” but stupid enough to believe anything the administration says.



Consequences, Consequences, Consequences. by The Elephant's Child

When President Obama rejected the Keystone XL pipeline, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that he would have to look elsewhere for  sales of Canadian oil.  Mr. Harper headed to Beijing earlier this week for a four-day trade mission in which he is expected to seek a deal to sell millions of barrels of Canadian oil to China.  China has been aggressively pursuing energy deals around the world, so Harper will probably come home with a signed deal.

According to the Ottawa Citizen, China is pushing for a free-trade agreement, though Canada isn’t sure they’re quite ready for that.

The development came as China and Canada declared Thursday that bilateral relations have reached “a new level” following a series of multibillion-dollar trade and business agreements to ship additional Canadian petroleum, uranium and other products to the Asian superpower.

The two countries have agreed that a joint economic study being conducted will be completed by May 2012, “after which Canada and China will proceed to exploratory discussions on deepening trade and economic relations.”

President Obama rejected Keystone and its 20,000 jobs, as well as the estimated 250,000 spin-off jobs, over purported environmental concerns, but those had been addressed fully during the three-year long review by the state Department. Just two years ago, the State Department approved a similar pipeline. State said at that time approval was granted because “the department found that the addition of crude oil pipeline capacity between Canada and the United States will advance a number of strategic interests of the United States.”

Meanwhile in the U.S., gas prices have been the highest ever for a January, and prices usually rise in February and March.  Expectations for this summer are in the $4 range. If it gets along toward the election, Obama will probably open up the strategic reserve again.  After all, with all the wars over, and the defense establishment cut way back, we won’t need all that oil, will we?

China wants to buy Canadian uranium too.  Harper has said that building the Northern Gateway pipeline to the West Coast and a separate one for liquified natural gas is a national priority for Canada as they look to ship their natural resources to Asia. Harper has to look out for Canadian national interests.

Our president is in full campaign mode, and Big Environment threatened  that they might withhold their money.  And as usual, it’s all about him.



Jobs Just Aren’t At the Top of the Obama Agenda! by The Elephant's Child

President Obama has said that he will veto the bill extending the payroll tax cut and extending unemployment benefits — if it includes approval for the Keystone XL pipeline, which offers an immediate 20,000 ‘shovel-ready’ jobs at no cost to the government.  It’s all private enterprise. Yet the president says his most important priority is creating jobs.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says “My job is to create jobs.” Well, no it isn’t. The government has no money of its own, it just takes money from taxpayers to give to other people in the government. But Harry Reid says that the Keystone XL pipeline approval is a sticking point and the bill cannot be passed — if all that job creation is in it.

The Keystone XL pipeline would bring Canadian oil south to American Gulf refineries. The pipeline has been vetted by every applicable agency, the route has been approved, and with the president’s signature, would start hiring, start work, offering union jobs and creating spin-off jobs as it gets going. High-paying jobs as well.

The problem for Mr. Obama seems to be his re-election campaign and the funding usually offered by the big environmental organizations. Remember that the only qualification to be an environmentalist is a professed love for the environment.  As the far left believes in a Utopia, if they can just make capitalism “good,” so the environmentalists believe in an environmental Utopia, if they can just get people and all their works out of the environment and leave it pristine, as nature intended.

All fine, except there are major problems with those ideas. Utopians do not grasp human nature as the flawed, messy, sinful nature that is, and assume they can fix it.  Environmentalists believe in an idealized Nature, and do not grasp the dangerous, wild, fierce, destructive reality of the ‘natural’ world.

The president and Harry Reid don’t really care about jobs. You cannot believe the words of their mouths — because their consistent actions over the past three years prove that politics and political contributions trump job creation every time. Their a-historical understanding of economics tells them that the financial crisis was caused by insufficient regulation. They have attempted to correct that with regulations that cripple business and do nothing to address the causes of the financial crisis.

The government defines “economically significant” regulation as rules that impose more than $100 million in annual costs on the economy, although there are hundreds if not thousands of new rules that fall well short of that. According to an analysis of the Federal Register by George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, Cabinet departments and agencies finalized 84 such regulations annually on average in President Obama’s first two years.  The annual average in the Bush administration was 62, and  under the Clinton administration 56.

There is a government document called the Unified Agenda, which details all proposed or final rules and is compiled twice a year by the federal Regulatory Information Service Center. The current number of major new rules this year is 146 — an historic high. Regulation began to grow after 9/11, and surged when the Pelosi House came in 2007. Not every rule in the Unified Agenda will eventually go on the books. The Unified Agenda is a lagging indicator.

Regulatory czar Cass Sunstein estimates the total cost of the first two years of Obama administration regulation  as somewhere between $8 billion and $16.5 billion.  The Heritage foundation estimates the total, including the agencies, at $40 billion for the two years, compared to $60 billion for the eight years of the Bush administration.

It is very clear that the regulatory surge is responsible for the lackluster economic recovery compared to previous recessions.

Rather than attempting to improve the business climate to encourage job creation, the Obama administration has pushed through liberal policies on health care, financial services, energy, housing, education, student loans, telecom, labor relations, transportation.  Businessmen, companies, corporations, small businesses and business organizations have complained about the paralyzing effect of the blizzard of new rules. The government pays no attention.

Anyone who thinks that this deluge has no effect on job creation has never worked in private enterprise.  Oh wait! The Obama administration has fewer people who have ever worked in the private sector than any administration in history.

(click to enlarge)



President Obama Doesn’t Understand Consequences. by The Elephant's Child

Reactions in Canada to Obama’s decision to put off a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline until after the American election in 2012 have been extremely negative, according to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.  The Canadian leader is taking part in a summit in Hawaii hosted by the American president.  Mr. Harper has discussed oil exports with Chinese President Hu Jintao. If America is not interested, China assuredly is.

President Obama is a little weak in the consequences department.  He seems ill prepared to recognize that he is not president of the world and everyone else does not jump to follow what he deems convenient for his reelection campaign. Putting off the decision on the pipeline until 2013 involves a lot more than kill thousands of expected American  jobs, but TransCanada is supposed to sit around waiting for another year or two for a decision?

The pipeline has been completely vetted by all government departments involved, but then nothing is ever vetted enough for environmentalists who want to stop anything to do with oil.  Do remember that there are no qualifications whatsoever to be “an environmentalist.” No degree in science, no course of study, only feelings about the environment. There are more qualifications to be a meter maid.

The oil comes from tar sands, which environmentalists claim means that it produces high levels of carbon emissions which are falsely blamed for global warming.  If they put off the decision long enough, perhaps they can find an endangered species in the pipeline’s path.

The 1700 mile pipeline is good for America and for Canada, and would provide America with a stable source of energy from an ally and create thousands of jobs.  Mr. Harper said he “remains optimistic that the project will go ahead because it makes eminent sense.”

ADDENDUM: A spokesman for the president said that :”The president said he will not trade the health and safety of the American people for a few thousand jobs.” What offensive hooey. The pipeline project had been approved by the EPA, the Energy Dept, the Department of the Interior and whatever other regulating bodies had any smidgen of authority.




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,500 other followers

%d bloggers like this: