Tag: Keystone XL

Biden Goes Deep Green

 

It is amazing the difference that four years can make in environmental policy. On January 24, 2017, at the outset of his presidency, Donald Trump issued an executive order that salvaged the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) from the Obama administration’s planned obstructionism. Obama had sought to upset the string of administrative approvals that the project obtained at both the federal and state levels. DAPL runs about 1,100 miles from the Bakken and Three Forks oil fields in North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois, where it is able to carry, far below ground, about 500,000 barrels of crude oil per day. Trump’s action allowed Congress to vote on whether to grant the last federal easement needed for the pipeline to proceed.

DAPL is now in service, even as litigation to shut it down continues. Environmental groups continue to allege attenuated theories of adverse effects under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Their efforts are consistent with the common practice among environmentalists of paying inordinate attention to highly remote contingencies while completely ignoring the large and immediate safety and efficiency advantages of getting crude oil to both domestic and foreign markets via DAPL. More concretely, the chances that any crude oil shipped by DAPL will escape in sufficient quantities to damage the fishing or water rights of the Standing Rock Sioux have always been infinitesimal, which is why the pipeline operations have caused no such harm for the past three years. The overall soundness of the pipeline grid will become truly dire if DAPL is shut down while Keystone is left incomplete.

For the moment, however, the immediate threat is to the Keystone pipeline. On January 20, President Biden issued an executive order aimed at “Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis.” One component of his major order was to revoke the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. The pipeline started some twelve years ago, but since that time it has been beset with legal challenges, including one in May 2020 in which a Montana judge yanked the pipeline’s permit on the grounds that the Army Corps of Engineers had not consulted sufficiently with the US Fish and Wildlife Service on the alleged risks that the pipeline posed to endangered species and their habitat. Such orders overlook the benefits from that pipeline, which include its ability to ship up to 830,000 barrels per day of crude oil from the Alberta sands to American refineries along the Gulf Coast.

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I frequently find myself running across headlines that are eye catching and definitive, yet when I read through the article under the headline a different story gets revealed. In some cases a key piece of information is omitted, buried, or minimized. I imagine that there’s been studies that examine what percentage of people actually read […]

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Courtesy of the CTV, comes this useful update on the current status of various efforts to connect the oilsands in Alberta to tidewater. Keystone XL, of course, was rejected by President Obama in November 2015. That decision is being appealed. There are three high-profile projects within Canada, as well: Northern Gateway (to Kitimat BC): “The […]

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If you think the US government is wrong to reject the Keystone XL pipeline, here’s The Donald’s take: Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump says he would reject the Keystone XL pipeline if TransCanada Corp. didn’t give the U.S. a “big, big chunk of the profits, or even ownership rights.” Preview Open

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Oil, Oil, Everywhere But Not A Drop To Burn?

 

imageIn the last few decades — indeed, in just the last few years — a combination of demand and technology has greatly expanded the amount of oil and gas reserves that can be economically extracted. Unfortunately, cars and industry can’t run off crude oil anymore than freshly-fracked methane, so those raw hydrocarbons are essentially useless until they’ve undergone a myriad of available processes to refine them into useable fuels. The whole reason for the Keystone XL pipeline, after all, is to bring heavy Canadian crude down to the Gulf Coast for refining.

A little over a year ago, The Wall Street Journal reported that American refineries — already the largest in the world — were pushing to increase their capacity at their existing plants, while others energy firms were trying to get into the business, often at a small scale. The results sounded impressive:

American refiners are set to add at least 400,000 barrels of oil-refining capacity a day [current world-wide refining capacity is about 17 million barrel per day] to existing plants between now and 2018, according to information compiled by The Wall Street Journal and the consulting firm IHS. That is the fuel-making equivalent of constructing a new, large-scale refinery.