American Elephants

Another Stunning Example of Political Opportunism. by The Elephant's Child



The U.S. State Department has cleared the Keystone XL Pipeline twice, so far, but now they are going to have to pass it again, after an extension of the public comment period which will, coincidentally, last until after the election. Part of the pipeline’s planned path has been changed to suit protesters. It is not a coincidence that the news of the ‘decision’ was released on the convergence of Good Friday and Passover. News that they’d rather cover up is always released late on a Friday. The cover story is that a further delay in the five-year saga of the Keystone couldn’t be avoided because of ‘unresolved legal issues’ over land seizures in Nebraska. Of course.

Let’s see what is involved:

TransCanada has provided a detailed job breakdown for the pipeline. They say it will create 13,000 union construction jobs, 7,000 jobs for Americans in manufacturing. It is estimated that there are up to 250,000 jobs over the life of the pipeline. That boom in employment would have spin-off jobs in the local economies that support each segment of the pipeline.

The Canadians are mightily annoyed. The United States imports eight to nine million barrels of oil every day. A stable, secure supply of oil from Canada makes better sense. Obama has orated about “our dependence on”foreign oil” often enough when it suits what he wants his audience to think.

Terry O’Sullivan, president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America said “Once again, the administration is making a political calculation instead of doing what is right for the country. It’s clear the administration needs to grow a set of antlers, or perhaps take a lesson from Popeye and eat some spinach.”

Pushing the Keystone XL through would send an important message to Vladimir Putin that America is willing to develop our energy. And allowing the export of liquified natural gas would put a thorn in the side of Putin’s ability to blackmail Europe because of their need for natural gas. But we don’t actually want to annoy Mr. Putin, do we?

On the other side you have:

Leftist billionaire Tom Steyer has promised to spend $50 million of his own money and raise another $50 million for the Democrats in this election if they support the cause of global warming. He really “hates” the Keystone XL pipeline. Steyer has made much of his money at Farallon Capital by investing in fossil fuel producers.

Steyer now claims that stopping Keystone will somehow prevent Canada’s oil sands from being developed. That’s hogwash. The oil is now being carried by rail. In 2008, there were less than 10,000 carloads of crude oil moved by rail. Last year it was more than 400,000 carloads. Rail transportation is far less safe than a pipeline, and the network of pipelines across the country is already extensive, and safe.

Steyer will profit from any delay of the Keystone because he is, or was until recently, a major investor in Kinder Morgan which is building a competitor to the Keystone pipeline. He is, today, a bitter opponent of fossil fuels, especially coal. Banning coal-fired power plants will boost the value of his solar projects. He owes his fortune in large part to the fact that he has been one of the world’s largest financiers of coal projects in Australia and Asia.  He has led recent campaigns with climate nut Bill McKibben to encourage university endowments to divest coal equities. John Hinderaker at Powerline has assembled a remarkable list of Steyer interests. The Hypocrisy is breathtaking.

The most notable takeaway is that, for Barack Obama political money for the upcoming election trumps jobs for unemployed American construction workers, unemployed American manufacturing workers, and for the taxpayer money going to import all that “foreign oil. Everything, for Barack Obama, is about politics. All that talk about jobs, jobs, jobs is just talk.

Obama’s Delay of the Keystone XL Pipeline is All About Politics. by The Elephant's Child

Last month at a press conference after meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, President Obama was asked about his delay in approving the Keystone XL pipeline.

Harper has been urging Obama to do the right thing and approve the pipeline that would pump oil from Alberta, Canada to U.S. refineries on the Gulf Coast.

The president is caught between the proverbial rock and hard place. He has claimed that all the jobs are just “temporary.” The State Department has approved the pipeline twice, both Hillary and Kerry. It will not increase greenhouse gases. Hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer has promised $100 million to the Democrats if they just keep opposing global warming. Green activists are continually demonstrating against the Keystone, for unknown greenie reasons. Unions badly want the jobs involved. The oil is being moved by rail at present, which is more dangerous.

By delaying a decision, Obama is hoping to get past the 2014 election without hurting the re-election chances of several Senate Democrats running in red or purple states that strongly support the Keystone XL and the energy industry.

Those candidates include Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mark Udall of Colorado, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, plus two open seats in Montana and West Virginia held by two retiring Democrats.

Think about the political problems facing these Democrats.

Montana, where Democratic Sen. Max Baucus just retired, will be able to ship 100,000 barrels a day of oil from the Bakken shale formation. If Obama kills the Keystone XL, he kills Montana jobs and may hurt the chances of a Democrat holding that Senate seat.

TransCanada has released a detailed job breakdown in response to critics who argue that the company’s job creation estimates for the project are too high and will lead only to ‘a few hundred’ temporary jobs. They presented a detailed account of employment potential in the U.S. right down to the number of oilers, labourers and welders needed for the  U.S. $7 billion project.

Their claim (January 2012)breaks the project into 17 pipeline segments with 500 workers per segment —8,500 jobs. Thirty pump stations, each station requires 100 workers—3,000 jobs. Six hundred jobs for the six construction camps at Cushing, Oklahoma.Construction, management and inspection oversight — 1,000. That’s 13,000 construction employment opportunities and 7,000 in manufacturing. The spin-off jobs for materials, steel pipes, related services would generate all sorts of indirect jobs and revenue for suppliers.

If the vulnerable Democrats can waffle on the issue, and Obama continues to deny the project, he gets money from the green activist lobby, and they have a lot to donate.

Democrats biggest claim in an election year is that they care about the little people. They don’t. ObamaCare is a clear example. Once they get  you signed up and dependent on their program, they don’t care what kind of health care you actually receive. Evidence: “If You like your doctor you can keep your doctor,” “Your insurance will cost $2,500 less,” VA insurance. Indian Health Service. Medicaid.

It’s all about politics. Not the “little guy.”

Ooops! An Unfortunate Interview With the New York Times. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama did a rare interview with the New York Times on Wednesday, and there was this interesting exchange:

NYT: The “Keystone XL pipeline — Republicans talk about that as a big job creator. You’ve said that you would approve it only if you could be assured it would not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon in the atmosphere. Is there anything that Canada could do or the oil companies could do to offset that as a way of helping you to reach that decision.”

MR. OBAMA: Well, first of all, Michael, Republicans have said that this would be a big jobs generator. There is no evidence that that is true. And my hope would be that any reporter who is looking at the facts would take the time to confirm that the most realistic estimates are this might create maybe 2,000 jobs during the construction of the pipeline — which might take a year or two — and then after that we’re talking about somewhere between 50 and 100 [chuckles] jobs in a (sic) economy of 150 million people.

NYT: Yet there are a number of unions who want you to approve this.

MR. OBAMA: Well, look, they might like to see 2,000 jobs initially. But that is a blip relative to the need.

So what we also know is, is that that oil is going to be piped down to the Gulf to be sold on the world oil markets, so it does not bring down gas prices here in the United States. In fact, it might actually cause some gas prices in the Midwest to go up where currently they can’t ship some of that oil to world markets.

Now, having said that, there is a potential benefit for us integrating further with a reliable ally to the north our energy supplies. But I meant what I said; I’m going to evaluate this based on whether or not this is going to significantly contribute to carbon in our atmosphere. And there is no doubt that Canada at the source in those tar sands could potentially be doing more to mitigate carbon release.


Keystone XL— In December, 2010, TransCanada Corporation released a detailed job breakdown for the Keystone XL pipeline, and said it will create 13,000 construction employment opportunities, and 7,000 manufacturing jobs in America.

In response to critics who argue that the company’s job creation estimates for the project are too high and will lead to ‘a few hundred’ temporary jobs, the company shot back with a detailed account of employment potential in the United States, right down to the number of oilers, labourers and welders needed for the U.S. $7 billion project.

“These are new, real U.S. jobs. Thirteen thousand American would be put to work constructing our Keystone XL project,” said Russ Girling, TransCanada’s president and chief executive officer in a statement. “Seven thousand more jobs would be created in the U.S. manufacturing sector, making materials needed to build Keystone XL.”

The project would also need millions of dollars of materials such as steel pipes and related services, which would generate indirect jobs and revenues for American suppliers.

Construction of the 1,600 mile pipeline is broken down into 17 U.S. pipeline spreads or segments, with 500 workers per spread — that’s 8,500 jobs.

Keystone XL also needs 30 pump stations worth tens of millions of dollars. Each station requires 100 workers — that’s 3,000 jobs. Add another 600 jobs that would be needed for the six construction camps and tank construction at Cushing, Oklahoma.

The project would need construction, management and inspection oversight — that would create 1,000 jobs, bring the overall Keystone XL total to 13,000 direct on-site jobs.

If I remember correctly Mr. Obama went to Cushing, Oklahoma for a photo-op in front of piles of gleaming steel pipe. He was going to approve the southern portion of the Keystone that stretched from Cushing to Texas or Louisiana, I forget which.  I never read anything further about that, so perhaps it never was started. The president did get his picture taken though.

So, there is some evidence that there’s a little more than somewhere between 50 and 100 jobs (chuckle) in an economy of 150 million people.  (150 million? )

Granted this was a 2010 estimate, but I feel confident that the President of TransCanada published an accurate summary.

Unfortunately, I cannot trust information from the American administration. All is political, at all times.

And there is no such thing as “carbon pollution.” Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere is a natural fertilizer, Makes plants grow, feeds the hungry people of the world.  If there were no carbon there would be no life. “Carbon pollution” indeed.

Nebraska Gov. Heineman Aproved the New Keystone XL Route: What’s Next? by The Elephant's Child


Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman has approved the new route for the Keystone XL pipeline from the Canadian oil fields.  The State Department approved it previously, when the projected route ran through Nebraska’s Sand Hills, but now they will have to approve it again. The pipeline was halted when President Obama denied the northern sector because of environmentalist pressure. We’ll see what happens this time.

Looking through my own archives, I see that I’ve written 8 posts just about the Keystone battles, including one about Democrats’ consistent attempt to redefine problems away, prompted by the hapless Jay Carney’s attempt to claim that the history is quite clear, it was the Republicans who cancelled the Keystone XL pipeline. (The GOP played Politics?)

The Keystone XL project promised 20,000 high paying jobs, which the economy badly needs, and an estimated 250,000 spinoff jobs along the pipeline route as it moved down from Canada to the refineries in Texas and Oklahoma. Environmentalists used the Sand Hills as an excuse, but their real reason is that they don’t want the pipeline — period. The denial was a major foreign-policy gaffe, and caused some real hard feelings with our northern neighbor. Canadians have their problems with activist greens as well.

Since Hillary Clinton is departing, and the new nominee is John Kerry, subject to Senate approval, it may be stopped in its tracks at the State Department, getting Obama off the hook. The Kerrys are movers and shakers in the environmental movement. It will be put off until after the new Secretary of State is in office. I’m not hopeful.

Apparently good paying jobs and economic growth are no longer a particular concern. Unemployment went unmentioned in the Inaugural speech, and the economy was dismissed with the simple comment that it is recovering, though there is little evidence that it is. There are fewer Americans working now than there were when Obama was inaugurated in 2009.  The national debt has increased dramatically. Although jobs are being created slowly, there are not enough to keep pace with the numbers of new people entering the work force. Since June 2009, the economy has grown at a rate of 0.4% a year. That’s beyond slow.

The speech was filled with promises to conquer global warming — unnecessary, since there has been no warming at all in the 21st century, and may be cooling for something like 30-35 years. Climate change does not cause “the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.” Drought and storms are weather, not climate — and raging fires are caused by an Interior Department unwilling to thin forests and insistent on promoting roadless areas, so it’s hard to reach fires to control them.


The Keystone Pipeline’s Back in The News: Will Obama Deny It Again? by The Elephant's Child


Opponents of the Keystone XL Pipeline last year protested vigorously about the route the pipeline would take, with claims that the planned route would cross ecologically sensitive areas of Nebraska’s Sand Hills, although the State Department had already approved it.  That was supposedly what led to the U.S. government’s denial of permits last year, although I suspect the government would have grabbed at any excuse. The environmental lobby was opposed to the pipeline. They only like the kinds of energy that don’t work.

The new route which goes from Alberta down to Nebraska will cost a projected $5.3 billion, and is backed by TransCanada Corp. The pipeline will connect Canada’s booming oil sands industry with the important refineries and ports along the Texas Gulf Coast, and provide millions of new jobs.

The State Department’s environmental report will be released soon, and could decide the fate of the pipeline. Nebraska’s governor, Dave Heineman, now has 30 days to decide whether to go forward with this project change or not.

Obama denied permission to the pipeline last year, catering to his environmental supporters demands, and rousing the ire of most Americans and the Canadian government. The original application was made in 2008.

The pipeline promised 20,000 jobs constructing the pipeline, and estimated 250,000 spinoff jobs. The hapless Jay Carney last year redefined the whole process to make the denial the Republican’s fault. It had to be somebody’s fault, the decision wasn’t popular, and nothing is ever Obama’s fault. The American people were well aware that we needed the jobs.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid loftily proclaimed that:

The proponents of the pipeline would be wiser to invest in job-creating clean energy projects, like renewable power, energy efficiency, or advanced vehicles that could employ thousands of people in the United States, rather than increasing our dependency on unsustainable supplies of dirty and polluting oil that could easily be exported. The fastest and best way to break our addiction to oil and free our country and our economy from the dangerous grip of OPED is to develop and deploy new technologies and clean affordable alternatives that destroy demand for oil, not exacerbate it.

Every word is false, including ‘the’ and ‘and.’ The linked article provides corrections. Has the climate changed now that Obama doesn’t have to run for re-election and big contributions are not so necessary? Will the crony-capitalism practiced by the administration fade out? Don’t bet on it.

But we really do need those new jobs. The employment picture in not improving, but continuing to decline. The job-numbers portray the number of jobs created in an ever smaller group of working Americans; which creates a false impression. We had 155,000 new jobs created last month, 40% of them subsidized by the government.  It takes a minimum of 200,000 jobs just to keep pace with new people entering the job market. And pipeline jobs are good high-paying jobs.

Energy Facts, Energy Lies. by The Elephant's Child

Gas prices here in the Seattle area are over $4.00 a gallon, but we have high taxes as well — 55¢ a gallon. Taxes are even higher in New York and Connecticut. Remember back in 2008 when Obama was on the campaign trail.  “If everybody in America inflated their tires to the proper level,” he said, “we would actually save more oil than we’d get from drilling.” uh huh.

Only 3 percent of federal lands are currently leased for oil production.

In North America alone there is enough oil to fuel every passenger car in the United States for 430 years.

— The Obama administration’s permitorium in the Gulf has resulted in 57 percent fewer deepwater permits, a 68 percent reduction in shallow-water permits, and a 50 percent reduction in plans that gain approval in the year-to-date.

The U.S. is the third largest oil-producing nation in the world, behind only Saudi Arabia and Russia. Our total recoverable resources are more than six times the proved reserves of Saudi Arabia.

In fiscal year 2011, oil production on federal lands decreased by 11 percent, while oil production on private and state lands increased by 14 percent.

Obama keeps repeating the canard that while we use over 20 percent of the world’s oil resources, we only produce 2 percent of the world’s oil.  And though he showed up in Cushing, Oklahoma to have his picture taken with some oil pipes, he did not “approve” the lower part of the Keystone XL pipeline. His approval was neither needed or wanted.

Obama  says that it was essential to refuse to approve the Keystone XL from Canada, because the Republicans wouldn’t give him enough time to make sure that it was safe for the American people,  and to  protect the great Ogallala aquifer in Nebraska. The Keystone XL had been approved by every applicable governmental agency. There are all sorts of pipelines running through the aquifer already, quite safely. Trans Canada was quite willing to move the pipeline route.

He’s on the campaign trail again. If he wanted the Keystone XL pipeline and the jobs that it promises, he would move heaven and earth to make it happen. Note all the silly solar energy arrays that he flies all over the country to promote.  Ignore what he says. Watch what he does.

Obama Rejects 20,000 Pipeline Jobs to Appease Radical Green Base by The Elephant's Child

President Obama today rejected the Keystone XL pipeline.  I guess Valerie Jarrett didn’t approve. The president said he was not acting on the merits of TransCanada Corp.’s proposal, but instead was forced to make the decision based on the “arbitrary” deadline mandated by GOP provisions in December’s payroll tax cut extension deal.  Snort!

The “arbitrary” deadline was February 21. I guess he thinks that this will stop the discussion of the huge numbers of jobs promised by TransCanada’s proposal (the environmentalists have already cost lost jobs as manufacturers of pipeline materials have laid off workers).

“As the State Department made clear last month, the rushed and arbitrary deadline insisted on by Congressional Republicans prevented a full assessment of the pipeline’s impact, especially the health and safety of the American people, as well as our environment,” Obama said in a prepared statement.

“As a result, the Secretary of State has recommended that the application be denied. And after reviewing the State Department’s report, I agree,” Obama added.

So you see, the decision isn’t really Obama’s fault — blame Hillary. “Health and safety of the American people” indeed. Codswallop. The XL pipeline had already been vetted by every applicable federal agency, and the State Department was all set to sign off on it, until Obama was, I assume, threatened by Big Green.  The environmental organizations play hardball. The president of the Energy Policy Research Foundation wrote in December:

For Canadians, it was unthinkable that a U.S. president would pull the plug after extensive reviews and 57 project-specific requirements exceeding all U.S. pipeline safety standards, including satellite-linked, computerized leak-detection systems and puncture-resistant steel pipe. Even one of TransCanada’s competitors, Enbridge, which ships Canadian crude through existing cross-border pipelines, supported the Keystone permit: Any interruption in the historic bilateral energy trade relationship was a more serious threat to its business than crude shipments by competitors.

The decision to delay the project is such a shift in expectations on the future of U.S.-Canadian energy trade that perhaps the only surprising outcome is that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has not recalled his ambassador. He did announce that shipping the crude to Asia will now receive the highest priority.

Obama used to be very enthusiastic about “shovel-ready” jobs, until he found they weren’t shovel-ready, long after he’d distributed the funding. Keystone XL is shovel-ready. The picture above is of the Keystone pipeline which is currently flowing along happily through the United States.  The XL is simply an extension.  Again, from The Wall Street Journal:

In April 2010 and again this August, State produced multivolume environmental impact statements that concluded the pipeline would have “no significant impacts” on the environment. That should have ended the matter.

But the President’s environmentalist friends have decided to make Keystone a test of his green virtue. “We’ll see if [Mr. Obama] is an oil guy or a people guy,” eco-agitator Bill McKibben recently warned at an Occupy Wall Street event, and the Sierra Club has threatened that it won’t “mobilize the environmental base” in 2012 if he approves the project. Various Hollywood worthies have marched in front of the White House in protest.

More interesting details: “President Obama’s jobs council called on Tuesday for an “all-in-approach” to energy policy that includes expand oil-and-gas drilling as well as expediting energy projects like pipeline.”

“[W]e should allow more access to oil, natural gas and coal opportunities on federal lands,” states the year-end report released Tuesday by the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

The report does not specifically mention the Keystone XL oil pipeline, but it endorses moving forward quickly with projects that “deliver electricity and fuel,” including pipelines.

“The Council recognizes the important safety and environmental concerns surrounding these types of projects, but now more than ever, the jobs and economic and energy security benefits of these energy projects require us to tackle the issues head-on and to expeditiously, though cautiously, move forward on projects that can support hundreds of thousands of jobs,” the report says.

President Obama has an odd mindset, which is echoed by Democrats like Nancy Pelosi. He was absolutely set on the payroll tax cut, which would put about $1000 a year into working people’s pay, by diverting that amount from their contributions to Social Security, putting the fund deeper in the hole.

The president believes that the payroll tax cut “will spur spending. It will spur hiring.” This is derived from Keynesian economics. Democrats believe that government money inserted into the economy by citizen spending will have a “multiplier effect” that will somehow create jobs. This was what was expected from the stimulus, from the “Cash for Clunkers” and all the other billions of taxpayer money that accomplished nothing.  If there is a “multiplier effect,” it isn’t much, and it clearly does not create jobs. But Obama’s ideas are set in concrete.

Environmentalists have tried to pooh-pooh the employment claims by pipeline proponents, but TransCanada spelled out just how many, and exactly what positions would open for each section of the 1,700 mile pipeline.  And the pipeline does have a “multiplier effect.” The construction jobs are, by the nature of construction, temporary, but new workers in a region means new business for all local concerns, for truckers bringing materials, for restaurants. Educated guesses put that number at 250,000 jobs.

Obama’s decision is clearly not based on “the health and safety of the American people.” The EPA tries to get away with that one too, and it doesn’t work. The decision is pure politics. Obama is more scared of losing Big Green than he is of losing Big Labor.  He thinks his extension of the Payroll tax cut will create enough jobs to get him off the hook with the unemployed, and he needs that Big Green funding because the donations aren’t coming in as well as forecast.

The Keystone XL pipeline requires no new technology or research, no taxpayer funds, while generating new tax revenue, all with virtually no financial or environmental risk. There is nothing new about pipelines. We have over 2.3 million miles of pipelines, including about 55,000 miles of crude oil trunk lines. They are the safest mode of transporting the lifeblood of the nation.  Trains can derail, trucks can crash, tankers can rupture, sink, or run aground. The Keystone XL would allow us to reduce oil imports from Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait by 25% or more.

Obama once said “This is our moment. This is our time — to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity.. ” Political hooey. Just words, no commitment.


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