State Dept. rejects Keystone XL pipeline

Protesters against the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline hold signs as they demonstrate outside of the W Hotel before the arrival of U.S. President Barack Obama on October 25, 2011 in San Francisco, Calif.

Kai Ryssdal: If you wanted one issue, a single element, that you could use to crystallize the economic debate this election year, I think we've got it for you today.

This afternoon, the White House rejected what's called the Keystone XL pipeline. It would have run from the Canadian oil sands down to the Gulf of Mexico. Still might, in the long run. But in the meantime, it's become a big tangle of jobs creation, American competitiveness, government regulation.

And that's before you even get to the bit about what it means for energy policy. From the Marketplace Sustainability Desk, Scott Tong reports.

Scott Tong: The administration’s reason for no: shouldn’t have rushed us.

In December, congressional Republicans gave the president a two-month deadline to decide yay or nay on the pipeline. Energy consultant David Goldwyn says everyone knew that was unrealistic.

David Goldwyn: It was clearly a very cynical ploy to force the administration to reject the pipeline so they could use it as an electoral tool.

So now, the right has two issues for the campaign –- the energy issue and the jobs issue –- turning down a shovel-ready project. The left has an environment issue. And consumers have an energy bottleneck.

Goldwyn: Only in America could conservative Republicans combine with environmental activists to increase global dependence on Middle East oil.

That’s for now. Down the road, even environmental activist Bill McKibbon figures more Canadian oil sands will find its way to market.

Bill McKibbon: Environmetnalists never win permanent huge victories.

As he sees it, his side basically bought some time –- for the world to wake up to global warming.

McKibbon: For the moment we can slow down some of that mining of the dirtiest energy on earth.

In fact, the industry is already finding workarounds, since we the global consumers are willing to pay for it. Trains and trucks are moving oil sands to refineries, even though it’s pricier and less efficient than a pipeline, says analyst Mark Routt at KBC Advanced Technologies.

Mark Routt: This crude is literally moving anywhere, anywhere, by any means possible.

By the way, the Keystone pipeline extension is not dead –- the company can re-apply, if it wants to fight it out again, after the election.

In Washington, I’m Scott Tong for Marketplace.

About the author

Scott Tong is a correspondent for Marketplace’s sustainability desk, with a focus on energy, environment, resources, climate, supply chain and the global economy.
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The arguments that are used to support the pipeline, energy supply, security, price stability and jobs also apply to renewable energy technologies. To apply them to oil only is one sided towards the oil lobby and their politicians.

The pipeline will require lots of subsidies, or at least will be given special breaks asked for by the oil lobby and their politicians such as direct subsidy, tax credits, tax abatements and public / private property taken by eminent domain. Oil gets hundreds of billions of $ a year already. To expect all this help for oil only is one sided to the oil lobby and their politicians.

Germany gets 20% of their electricity from renewable sources and it didn't ruin their economy and it is working very well.

The 2 parties should put aside one sided partisanship and come to an agreement that they can have your pipeline if the other side joins in supporting clean renewable energy.

Please fill us in: why does the White House have a Yea/Nay vote on whether a particular industrial project is enacted?

Because it crosses an international border.

(One wonders why they don't just build two pipelines ending a mile from the border, and shuttle rail cars across the gap while waiting for permission to build the connection.)

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