When U.S. president Barack Obama rejected the Keystone XL pipeline proposal last fall, the anti-oil sands lobby called it a victory. They claimed that the rejection was a spectacular blow against the oil sands, and that it would change the world.
The decision to shelve the proposal, gushed Hollywood activist Robert Redford, “represents a victory of historic proportions for people from throughout the pipeline path and all across America who have waged an uphill, years-long fight against one of the most nightmarish fossil fuel projects of our time.”
Even Barack Obama doesn’t believe that nonsense.
The president made that much clear in a recent interview with Rolling Stone magazine. He said he had “respect” for certain anti-oil sands crusaders, like James Hansen at NASA who said approving Keystone XL would mean “game over” for the climate. But, Obama said, his decision on whether to allow the pipeline into the U.S. actually wouldn’t change a thing.
“But it’s important to understand that Canada is going to be moving forward with tar sands, regardless of what we do. That’s their national policy, they’re pursuing it,” Obama said.
The president’s decision at the time was plainly all politics: he just couldn’t stand up to a far left base of support that he’d desperately need to keep him in power come the November presidential election. The Council on Foreign Relations had pointed out that piping just shy of a million barrels of Canadian oil every day into the U.S. oil supply chain would scarcely alter the nation’s carbon footprint. But it would have the effect of displacing a whole lot of conflict oil from dangerous regimes in Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.
The anti-oil sands zealots deployed their standard farrago of exaggerations and lies to mislead the public, prompting Obama to make the unethical choice. Now, even the president admits that it was all pointless: The world will continue to use oil. Canada will develop its oil sands with or without Keystone XL. The U.S. will just have to keep buying more and more harmful conflict oil, instead of ethical, friendly and stable Canadian supplies.
To the anti-oil sands fanatics, that’s called “victory.” Reasonable people would just call it tragic.
CBC News has reported that TransCanada has reapplied for their permit to build Keystone XL. Will President Obama now do what is right?