What will come as no surprise to most Americans is Obama’s official rejection today of TransCanada’s request to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline, ending a 7-year battle that has angered voters and has become a rallying cry in the current presidential primaries. Obama’s denial to build the 875 miles of additional pipeline needed to complete the Keystone XL comes a few days after TransCanada asked the State Department to withdraw its application. The pipeline would have carried 800,000 barrels of oil to Gulf Coast refineries. Because the Keystone XL crosses over from the Canadian border and into the United States, it requires approval by the State Department and the President.
But Obama has made his climate legacy a priority in his final years in office, rolling out thousands of new regulatory schemes and regulations, and utilizing the EPA to do his bidding under the constitution. Forbidden from creating new laws, Obama has been using the EPA as a battering ram to shutter coal mines, reduce carbon dioxide emissions (which he believes are responsible for climate change), and roll out onerous regulations that have already begun to translate into higher electric and gas bills.
Those in the wind and solar industry are faring much better, receiving plump grants and tax credits, even though they can’t compete with natural gas or traditional fossil fuels. With a major climate change summit being held in early December, Obama is hoping that America leads the world to a solar- and wind-powered tomorrow.
While some consider these to be lofty goals, others view the president’s overreach as unconstitutional and a tax burden on low- to middle-income Americans. Institute for Energy Research President Thomas Pyle wrote in an emailed statement that the president’s announcement is as “out of touch with the American people as much as he’s in lockstep with national environmental pressure groups.” Since the rejection of the Keystone pipeline extension is largely symbolic, as it wouldn’t be binding to future presidents, Obama is letting other world leaders know he is serious about “acting on climate change.”
The Keystone extension pipeline is but a drop in the overall energy bucket. As just about everyone admits, the Alberta tar sands oil will get used. If not in North America, then in China or elsewhere. The pipeline’s rejection is just another gesture in an already over-reaching plan crafted by the Obama administration that most experts have already said will have no impact on temperatures.
Even the EPA’s chief administrator has said in testimony that Obama’s Clean Power Plan, his most significant achievement after Obamacare, would only avert warming by .01 degrees Celsius at a cost to taxpayers of $73 billion a year. The rewards for the new, onerous regulations are so minuscule, even congressional Democrats in oil-producing states are having a tough time defending them, especially in an upcoming election year.
So far this year, the EPA has rolled out thousands of new regulations every month, telling Congress it does not need to justify them with science. Those who are feeling it the hardest are low- to middle-income families. With an anemic 2% growth domestically (a normal growth rate would be around 3.5%), with more Americans on food stamps than in any time in history, and with more part-time employees who wish they were working full-time, Obama’s move to squelch the pipeline is perplexing. The rejection of the pipeline will now prevent the creation of up to 40,000 full-time jobs lasting one year, and have no affect on temperatures or the climate.
Some have even argued that moving oil via pipeline is much safer than rail, truck or ship, which all have much higher carbon footprints, nor will this rejection prevent the ongoing extraction of oil in Alberta, Canada. Without a re-election to worry about next year, the NY Times reports that “Obama saw the surprisingly powerful influence of environmental activists in the decision.”
The Times also notes that numerous State Department reviews have concluded that construction of the pipeline would have little to no impact on the environment, and that transporting the oil by any other means would actually increase carbon dioxide emissions, the so-called greenhouse gas environmentalists blame for any perceived changes in global temperatures.
Obama, with Secretary of State John Kerry and VP Joe Biden flanking his sides, told the media at noon that the pipeline would not serve the country’s national interest. He also said the pipeline had an over-inflated role and had become a political football. He said it would not have a meaningful long-term impact on the economy and reiterated that Congress should pass a serious infrastructure plan.
Obama then noted the pipeline would not lower gasoline prices for consumers and remarked on the already lower prices (which he has no control over), and that shipping our crude oil to other countries would not be in America’s interest, either, though we still rely on oil from other countries. He also said cars are now getting twice as many miles per gallon because of him, even though the majority of vehicles on the road today do not meet the new mileage standards.
He then continued his rallying cry for renewable energies, leaving out important facts that it still only makes up for less than 5% of the energy used. He spent much of his press conference telling reporters that America is leading the world on climate change, but still not grasping that without subsidies and tax credits, renewables simply can’t compete with fossil fuels. He also said climate change was the most important threat facing our country, leaving out radical Islamic extremists, ISIS, homegrown insurgents, and other global threats.
Pyle also wrote that “President Obama’s decision on Keystone XL is not a surprise. As we’ve said all along, the president never had any intention of approving the pipeline. Let’s be clear, the president isn’t only rejecting a pipeline. He’s rejecting the will of the American people, he’s rejecting abundant and affordable energy, and he’s rejecting trade with one of our closest allies.”