The Relative Comment

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Obama frustrates everyone, delays Keystone XL

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Like most folks in the US who follow environment and climate change issues, TRC is quite interested in the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline. Last week, the Obama Adminstration decided to study a new route for the pipeline, adding (at least) 18 months to the process. But the fight over Keystone XL is not going away, and the decision made by Obama will have consequences.  For more on that decision, and what it means, TRC recommends this article from Daily Tech, which I think lays out both sides fairly (with a slight bent towards building the pipeline), and decides that, whatever the right move is, Obama alienated everyone and made a poor political judgment in the process.

In short, as with many of his recent actions President Obama finds himself receiving most of the punishment, but little of the praise for actions he set in motion.  In trying to walk the tightrope of pleasing both sides, he has badly slipped — many anti-pipe advocates are reprimanding the President for merely shelving rather than killing the decision, while the pipe’s supporters are attacking the President for shelving the product.

On some decisions, however, I think that if the President upsets everyone, he is probably doing something right, and facing the reality of making tough choices. On KXL, that remains to be seen.

For the record, TRC was asked about the Obama Administration’s decision to reconsider the Keystone XL route, essentially punting on the project until after the election. Specifically, the question was: do you think it’s the wrong route, or that it shouldn’t happen at all? A good question. TRC responded as follows:

I think it is definitely the wrong route. I would prefer it doesn’t happen at all, but that’s unlikely. 
The Ogallala aquifer needs more protection than our current oil or jobs needs. 30%+ of our irrigation water in the US is from that source. Almost everyone who lives in the region, ( its footprint is in 8 states) gets their drinking water from that source. This is environmental policy, and environmental policy should be made on a 100-10,000 year time scale. Which I’m serious about. It’s impossible. But the risks to our aquifers are far more serious than the risks of not getting those jobs. Of course, that’s a losing political argument.
If I had my way, no one would get that oil, and the Tar Sands project would be shut down. It is the dirtiest project that humans have ever endeavored to undertake. It will single-handedly hurry the pace of climate change, especially given its location and the manner in which tar sands oil is captured. But it’s happening now, and it’s terrible. The only real way to stop its impact is to stop its movement. 
The alternatives (to piping the oil to the US) are possibly real, possibly not. I think the project absolutely needs to pump across the US. There are other ways to move it, to Asia for example, but not in quantities necessary. If the US doesn’t build a pipeline, the whole project really is in jeopardy.

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Written by Christopher ZF

November 14, 2011 at 11:47

One Response

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  1. […] etc) the Keystone XL pipeline route. TRC’s opinion of this decision have previously been discussed and is unchanged in the past 10 days or […]


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