Democratic critics say pipeline will not increase U.S. oil supplies-

Right now the U.S. Senate is considering a Republican effort to fast-track the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline.  Democrats will filibuster. Republicans are not likely to get the 60 votes to beat the filibuster.

The pipeline is becoming a defining issue between the two parties, especially as the price of gasoline rises. Pipeline critics are increasing portraying the proposed pipeline from Canada not as a convenient source of non-domestic oil, but as a much more ominous effort to use America merely as a route to get the oil into the international export market.

The American Petroleum Institute has been running many televisions ads that among other things claim the pipeline is a terrific source of secure and clean oil for use in the United States. The API also claims it will create many new jobs.

Pipeline opponents say the pit-mined Keystone syncrude (bitumen) will merely redistribute jobs that already exist, that the economic boost will be extremely temporary, and that the bitumen is corrosive and toxic, so unusually prone to leaks. As an example, they point to the recent blowout of a pipeline carrying this Canadian product under the Yellowstone River near Billings, Montana. Currently the oil company is trying to settle damages from oil pollution of the river and riparian zone.  Bitumen is a very heavy crude oil. It is slow-flowing, sticky, and has to be heated or mixed with lighter hydrocarbons to make it flow down a pipeline.

International oil interests are trying to build a second route out of Canada which goes through rugged and very pristine land in British Columbia. First Nations tribes are opposing the pipeline through their fish and wildlife rich rainforest and rugged mountains.  The new conservative Canadian regime of Stephen Harper has taken to calling First Nations opponents domestic terrorists.

Whether used in the United States or exported. It is clear that the pipeline could not in any way reduce the current rapid run-up of gasoline prices.

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Update 3/8 afternoon: the U.S. Senate rejected the Republican plan this afternoon.  56 voted in favor of ending the Democrat’s filibuster, 4 short, but more votes for the pipeline than expected.  Many more attempts are expected. The people behind this tar sands atrocity are kind that buy and sell small countries, and many believe that American laws are now open to the highest bidder. One story on the vote: Senate rejects GOP measure to build oil pipeline. By Ted Barrett. Dana Bash. and Alan Silverleib, CNN

Update 3/9. Here is more on Senate Republican efforts to push big oil over environmental concerns in amendments to the Highway Bill on 3/8. Senate Rejects Republicans’ Environment, Energy Proposals

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

30 Responses to Keystone pipeline said to be just an oil highway across the United States to foreign lands

  1. avatar jdubya says:

    We actually export gasoline out of the gulf states ’cause we don’t have the pipeline capacity to carry it to the far east and west of the country where is where the critical demand is. That canadian crude will meet the same or similar fate: either exported as crude oil or as gasoline. But export is the name of the game.

    • avatar Salle says:

      And they can’t put it on a ship and take it to… the NE seaboard just a couple days’ travel? Instead they haul it across the ocean. That jus’ dont make no sense.

      (What was that old saying…? “…across the ocean is a cow that costs a penny.”)

  2. avatar Nancy says:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/jan/10/bp-shuts-alaska-pipeline-after-leak

    I can’t recall this getting much attention in the news then (someone please correct me if I missed a link here about it) so the big question is – will situations like this become more common place as this pipeline gets older?

    And is it something we should really be worrying about with the latest rush to “pipe oil/Keystone” across the country, especially when you realize most of the critical parts associated with this pipeline, are probably not gonna be manufactured in this country?

    Only have to look at the breakdown in appliances I’ve bought or maybe you’ve bought in the last 10 years (because so much has been outsourced to other countries, as in cheap labor) to understand the concern here.

    • The equipment to dig the tar sands was all foreign, and recall how they tried to jam it through highway 12 in Idaho to get it to Canada?

      I’d swear the United States, has in the minds of the Republicans, been conquered by Canada. If they get control of the U.S. government complete will they rename us “Vichy America” (a reference to World War II and Vichy France).

  3. avatar Salle says:

    And it seems there are also concerns, coming to light again, concerning the safety of the nuclear industries facilities:

    Flare-up: How the Sun Could Put an End to Nuclear Power

    http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/03/08-7

    Certainly food for thought. It seems that the idea of the power grid and its benefit to society has outlived its usefulness. Large power generation facilities are out of date, in need of redesign with the nature of use in mind… like point-source generation. (It’s a lot like the chaos – or “spider plant” theory in organization structure models; if you look at a spider plant, it has extensions that are little miniature models of the mother plant, each a complete system in itself, identical in DNA to the mother plant only smaller and complete in itself.) So point source generation would mean producing and installing systems like those I put up links to in the past… like aerotechture int. web site. They have had the right idea for about a decade now. If this point source system were functioning in the midwest, not all the folks in a general area would have been without power especially if their home was physically unscathed in the storms.

    Fossil fuel burning and mining for heat and electricity need to be rethought and the current systems retired soon. These are the solutions we should be working toward with our technology innovations rather than how realistic you can make a wargame on the xbox or how sexy you personal communicator (iphone) or the dream-time gadgetry in our newest weapons systems while starving the poor even more brutally. It would likely cost the equivalent of the daily cost of our wars of choice to fund a complete redesign, including installation, of a large portion of the nation’s electrical grid without gouging up more public wild lands to do it (that is if we could circumvent corporate/government grand-standing and the like).

    It seems like a no-brainer but those with no brains are in control, so…

  4. avatar Salle says:

    Keystone XL Bill Thwarted By Senate Democrats

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/08/keystone-xl-senate-defeats-bill_n_1333108.html

    “Today’s vote was a temporary victory and there’s no guarantee that it holds for the long run,” said Bill McKibben, the founder of 350.org who has led protests against the pipeline since August. “But given that this thing was a ‘no brainer’ a year ago, it’s pretty remarkable that people power was able to keep working, even in the oil-soaked Senate. We’re grateful to the administration for denying the permit and for Senate leadership for holding the line.”

  5. avatar mikarooni says:

    The GOP likes to pretend that corporations are people, that they are citizens of a particular country, and that thus oil companies have some sort of patriotic loyalty. Oil companies are loyal to profits, just profits, nothing more than profits. If an American oil company can get a higher profit selling its product, whether crude or refined, to Europe or Japan or anywhere else, then Europe or Japan or somewhere else is where that product will go. There is no such thing as domestic oil or foreign oil; it is oil and it will go where it will, give or take the cost to transport it, bring the highest after-tax profit. You can drill in Montana or Wyoming or Libya and it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference as to who is the end user of that oil. There is also no such thing as domestic oil companies or foreign oil companies; they are all just oil companies. There are foreigners on the boards, in the executive suites, among the stockholders, and reaping the profits from so-called domestic oil companies and so-called Americans on the boards, in the executive suites, among the stockholders, and reaping the profits from so-called foreign oil companies. It’s all just Chinatown and the American public needs to grow up and understand that this is the way centralized, concentrated, multi-national capitalism works. If you want domestic energy production and you should, then pay off your mortgage and put a wind turbine in your backyard and PV panels on your roof and make sure you only connect to grid systems that don’t cross the border or relieve the load on grids that do. Under any other scenario, you’re just paying the devil his due, regardless of whether he wears a Stetson or a turban.

    • avatar Alan says:

      Extremely well put. The only “American” companies left are (maybe) the small bakery or mom and pop store down on the corner. Just about anything bigger is an international corporation, and they don’t give a darn if they are selling to Shanghai or Schenectady. It’s like I-Pads being made in China. Apple doesn’t care if they are costing Americans jobs. All that matters is the bottom line.
      It’s no longer what your neighbor is willing to pay that determines a price, but rather what anyone in the world is willing to pay.
      What people can’t seem to understand is that there currently is no shortage of oil. Prices are being driven by speculators who are betting on continued unrest and a possible war in the middle east.
      They are also being driven by exports. In the first ten months of 2011, the nation exported 848 million barrels (worth $73.4 billion) and imported 750 million barrels. (Can this be true?! We exported more than we imported!!)
      “I think it is simply disingenuous to think exports of gasoline are not a factor in the prices,” says Ben Brockwell, director of data marketing and information services at the Oil Price Information Service, which provides petroleum pricing and information to the oil industry. Yet I don’t hear any of the Presidential candidates, including President Obama, talk about that.

  6. avatar Scott MacButch says:

    One thing that worries me greatly is that if the Keystone project fails, as my friend and photographer, Brad Hill in BC states, the chances increase greatly that the pipeline will be taken through the Great Bear Rain Forest in Northern BC which would have devastating environmental implications – see:
    http://www.raincoast.org/

    If there is no alternative, I would rather see it come south, through the US.

    • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

      Scott MacButch,

      The horror of the rainforest route needs to be publicized much more, but I think the Canadian government under Stephen Harper wants to build both.

      • avatar CodyCoyote says:

        Remember that it is the South Korean state oil company that is quietly pushing for the Northern gateway pipeline west from Alberta across the Rockies and Coast Ranges to a yet-to-be-built tanker port. Korea built the huge mega-cookers that were transported to the oil sands site over highways from the port of Lewiston ID. South Korea is substantially invested in the Alberta tar sands, and expects to have a crude oil supply from same. KNOC bought out Anadarko’s share of the Alberta sands, just as they are quietly buying up oil reserves all around the planet , since they have no oil of their own. ( I suppose to keep from getting outmaneuvered by their dear neighbor China. ) it is not practical to ship that semi-refined oil from Fort MacMurray to Korea by any other method or route that piping it straight to a Pacific docksite. I believe that the Panama Canal is being widened to accomodate the supertankers , but that raises some flags , especially about the fresh water needed to run the locks which is already at a critical point.

        The Northern Gateway pipeline to the coast of B.C. from Alberta is a sure fire recipe for another Prince William Sound debacle, or worse , becasue you won;t need a drunk captain below decks to have a gawdawful spill. The only bay that is adequate to dredge out a tanker port is far from a maritime ideal. As far as you can get and still want to build it at all.

        I agree with Ralph that both pipelines were intended to be pushed through all along. Stephen Harper makes Dubya Bush seem almost a moderate. When he blustered that is Obama doesn’t approve the keystone XL preferred route, he would just sell the oil to China/ East Asia , he was lying thru his teeth . Canada was going to do that all along…

        Americans generally do not appreciate how “purposeful” Canadian industry is in steamrollering the environmental concerns of anything and everything natural resource. It’s rare when the Canadian government gets between industry and money up north of us.

        • avatar Daniel Berg says:

          The realities of a commodity based economy….

        • avatar mikarooni says:

          “Americans generally do not appreciate how “purposeful” Canadian industry is in steamrollering the environmental concerns of anything and everything natural resource. It’s rare when the Canadian government gets between industry and money up north of us.”

          That is generally true nowadays. Americans tend to accept the stereotype that Canadians are more polite and civilized because health care up there seems more enlightened; but, scum tends to follow oil and gas and Alberta has now attracted so many of the worst degenerates from all over the world, including Texas, and Canadian industry and politics are now not what they once were. Stephen Harper is a particularly scummy piece of work.

    • avatar Salle says:

      An alternative that is best for all is to not build the damned thing, that one or any others coming from Alberta or SD.

  7. avatar kafantaris says:

    The Wyden Amendment makes sense. If we are risking an oil spill on our homeland the next 30 years from the Keystone pipeline, then we should insist that all the oil it transports stays here.
    And that the pipeline should be built and maintained by American workers — with American made materials.
    Otherwise, we would be relegating our land to a 30 year stepping stone for Canada to transport its dirty oil to foreign markets.
    Indeed, the Wyden Amendment should be used as a model for all offshore and public land drilling. If our country incurs the long term risk of an oil spill, then it should also get the maximum benefit.
    The “free market” will have to take a back seat on this one.
    Our environment ain’t free — even to the free market.

    • avatar Salle says:

      “The “free market” will have to take a back seat on this one.
      Our environment ain’t free — even to the free market.”

      Amen.

    • avatar jdubya says:

      it can’t stay here. the refineries along the gulf are already maxed out and with more drilling in the deeper waters, there will be even more oil to process. dumping the canadian crude into this equation means it has to be exported.

      the refinery business is not a money maker which is why many of the major oil companies are separating the oil exploration/holding/selling part of the company away from the refining side. plus no one wants to build new refineries ’cause they are environmental nightmares.

      if the politicians were serious about this tar oil staying in north america they need a bifurcated pipeline, one going to the east coast and one to the west, and refineries set up to process the product for local use. that ain’t happening.

  8. avatar Alan says:

    “If we are risking an oil spill on our homeland the next 30 years from the Keystone pipeline, then we should insist that all the oil it transports stays here.”
    How do you enforce that, and what’s to prevent the oil companies from shipping an equivalent amount from other sources overseas? They are going to ship what they are going to ship. Can’t ship Keystone? OK. But nothing says we can’t use Keystone to free up more Texas oil for the International market! Wouldn’t matter one iota to the oil company.

    • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

      That’s what happened with the Alaska pipeline. A similar amendment passed, but it made little difference.

      This energy security for America stuff is just propaganda. International oil companies have loyality to no nation.

  9. avatar Salle says:

    Keystone XL Contract Reveals More Evidence Of Conflict Of Interest

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/09/keystone-xl-contract-transcanada-entrix_n_1335066.html

    • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

      Salle,

      This is really great, besides the interesting other issue, earthquakes from fracking fluids, Rachel clearly shows the stuff from Alberta is not oil, but nasty bitumen — tar, and it has to be mixed with other things worse, to make it flow down a pipline.

      The international oil industry tries to call them oil sands. They are tar sands, actually bitumen sands. Of course, if you call them bitumen, few will know what you are talking about.

      • avatar Salle says:

        Some say Rachel’s a little preachy but I would argue that with the lack of understanding of how the government was set up to function and the responsibilities of its citizenry, I think that she sees that concern as one where she has to start from scratch when she enters into a dialogue that is a little more complex than most normal folks can get a hold of without some basics explained first.

        She usually gets it right. And with all the flare up about that stupid talking head’s attack on that Georgetown student, she was very civil and direct in her manner of discussing the issue. Reminded me of you, the most level-headed person in the heat of an argument, not very excitable in the emotional realm, even when really heated stuff comes to the conversation.

        Rachel Maddow is Rhodes Scholar who earned a doctorate in Political Science at Oxford. Her observations are very well formulated and her way of summarizing complex political concepts and topics is helpful to those who don’t follow all the minutia of politics (made more difficult to navigate thanks to those who want to bring this country into centuries past and attempt to cover their “droppings” with BS)

        She also just received the John Steinbeck Award for her new book; “Drift”. We need more news presenters like her.

  10. avatar CodyCoyote says:

    MSNBC/Christian Science Monitor have put out a updated story on what the keystone XL pipeline will do for American oil economics, and what it WON’T do , which is more significant and echoes much of what is said here. Like not increase American petro-security or reduce fuel prices one whit.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46689167/ns/us_news-christian_science_monitor/

    It says nothing about the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline across B.C. from Alberta to the West Coast. Which by the way is actually TWO pipelines… the 36 incher pumping the heavy crude and its additive to the port at Kitimaat , and the smaller pipeline returning the additive ( condensate) back to Alberta for reuse.

    • avatar Salle says:

      And to add to that… Here is a presentation by an MSNBCTV newsperson (an amazingly accomplished political scientist) followed by a discussion with yet another amazing political scientist about some major considerations on this topic:

      http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/ns/msnbc_tv-rachel_maddow_show/#46688861

      The opening clip of the show covers an interesting theme from the zealotry that drives the nation… to fracking’s impact, and on to the tar sands issues and the impacts of that and the XL pipeline. Pretty informative.

  11. avatar Salle says:

    Energy Experts Debunk Right-Wing Defense Of Oil Subsidies

    http://mediamatters.org/research/201203060003

  12. avatar CodyCoyote says:

    Some more cheery news from up north about Canadian oil pipelines. The Canandian government may have hidden plans to loosen up environmental regulations in order to expedite the east-west Enbridge pipeline that terminates on the West Coast at Kitimaat after making 600 stream crossings on its merry way from the Alberta tar sands. That’s not a typo…the two parallel Enbridge pipes will have to jump over 600 streams.

    The Tar Sands news just keeps getting better, doesn’t it ?

    http://www.foxbusiness.com/news/2012/03/13/canada-weakening-environment-laws-to-aid-pipelines-biologist-says/

  13. avatar Salle says:

    Tomgram: Michael Klare, Why High Gas Prices Are Here to Stay

    http://www.tomdispatch.com/

  14. avatar Salle says:

    Senate rejects plan to open Arctic refuge to drilling

    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/03/13/141700/senate-rejects-plan-to-open-arctic.html#storylink=cpy

    “Michigan Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow spoke against the measure. ‘It includes dangerous requirements for drilling in the Arctic and offshore locations without any safeguards,’ she said.”

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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