The Good News: Killing The Pipeline Could Strand the Tar Sands Oil for Years
The Bad News: TransCanada Says a Delay in Pipeline Approval to 2012 May Not Kill It
Protesters against the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline demonstrate before the arrival of President Obama on October 25 in San Francisco.
Yesterday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney tried to pass the buck on the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline decision, saying, “This is a decision that will be made by the State Department.”
Today, in an interview with Omaha station KETV (video here), Obama (aka The Decider) walked that back entirely:
The State Department’s in charge of analyzing this, because there’s a pipeline coming in from Canada. They’ll be giving me a report over the next several months, and, you know, my general attitude is, what is best for the American people? What’s best for our economy both short term and long term? But also, what’s best for the health of the American people? Because we don’t want for examples aquifers, they’re adversely affected, folks in Nebraska obviously would be directly impacted, and so we want to make sure we’re taking the long view on these issues.
We need to encourage domestic oil and natural gas production. We need to make sure that we have energy security and aren’t just relying on Middle East sources. But there’s a way of doing that and still making sure that the health and safety of the American people and folks in Nebraska are protected, and that’s how I’ll be measuring these recommendations when they come to me.
Well, the long view is that dirty fossil fuels, like the tar sands, are not merely an unsustainable source of jobs, but they are essentially fatal to efforts to protect the health and well-being of Americans (see James Hansen slams Keystone XL Canada-U.S. Pipeline: “Exploitation of tar sands would make it implausible to stabilize climate and avoid disastrous global climate impacts”).
The reporter asked Obama about “the potential for jobs, does that play into the equation at all?” The President answered:
It does, but I think folks in Nebraska like all across the country aren’t going to say to themselves, “We’ll take a few thousand jobs if it means that our kids are potentially drinking water that would damage their health or rich land that’s so important to agriculture in Nebraska are being adversely affected” because those create jobs, and you know when somebody gets sick that’s a cost that the society has to bear as well. So these are all things that you have to take a look at when you make these decisions.
This certainly sounds like the president is giving himself rhetorical room to delay the decision (to do a better environmental impact statement or examine alternative routes) or kill the pipeline outright.
Canada’s National Post reports that the “worst-case scenario” of killing the pipeline would be “stranded oil sands — for years”: