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Pipe Dreams
Author: BobR    Date: 2015-02-04 11:48:21

The debate about the Keystone XL pipeline has been ongoing ever since it was conceived. With Democrats controlling the Senate and the White House for the last 6 years, there was never a chance it would be approved to move forward. That may change. The bill passed the Senate last week with nearly a 2/3 majority (62-36). Yes, that means a number of Democrats voted for it; naturally every single Republican voted for it (except for Marco Rubio, who was out campaigning for the 2016 presidential race). It will likely hit the House floor next week for vote, where it will also likely pass. From there, it's onto the president's desk, where it will hopefully be vetoed.

The reason it should be vetoed is that it's a sham. Pipeline proponents keep trumpeting two selling points: it will supposedly create jobs, and it will supposedly reduce our dependence on foreign oil. The latter one is laughable - it's primary purpose is to transport Canadian tar sands across U.S. soil to the Gulf of Mexico, where it will be shipped to who knows where either before or after being processed. Very little - if any - will be sold here in the U.S. Even if it was, it's still Canadian oil - not U.S. oil - so it is still not domestic production.

The more ephemeral claim is that it will create jobs. Other more necessary construction projects in the U.S. would also create jobs as well as more directly benefit U.S. citizens - projects like rebuilding crumbling bridges. The Keystone XL pipeline? Despite wild claims of many thousands of jobs, the reality is that there will be a couple thousand temporary jobs during construction, followed by 35 permanent jobs upon completion. More permanent jobs are created by opening a new grocery store.

The Republican hype on this is false on all accounts - negligible permanent jobs, and no effect on our energy independence nor energy prices. So what's the real reason for the pipeline?

The answer is very likely Dakota shale oil.

One of the reasons that domestic oil production has boomed the last few years is the discovery and exploitation of a large deposit of shale oil beneath N. Dakota and Montana called the Bakken Formation. Using the same fracking techniques used to extract natural gas, the oil in the shale is removed using high pressure water. This has made available billions of barrels of oil for U.S. markets (as well as international markets - oil is, after all, a market commodity).

So how does all that oil get to the refineries? Up until now, it's gone by rail car, which can be dangerous. However, if an oil pipeline just happened to be built nearby, it would be a simple thing to port into it and send that Dakota oil down it as well. That's exactly what the plan is:
In 2013, the Congressional Research Service released a report that stated 12% of the Keystone XL Pipeline’s 830,000 b/d ultimate capacity has been set aside for the transport of Bakken Crude. The report further said the Keystone XL pipeline project would include a lateral pipeline, called the Bakken Marketlink, to carry oil from Baker, MT, to the hub in Cushing, OK.

Well that certainly explains the push for the pipeline. While a Congress bought and paid for by oil barons tout jobs in front of the cameras to approve a pipeline, the reality is that it will make even more money for those dumping funds into their campaign coffers.

The sad thing is - it might not even be necessary. Essentially - Keystone XL is soaking up all the bad press, while another Canadian company (Enbridge), is quietly building more pipelines in N. Dakota to transport all that oil.

I can't find any info as to where the Enbridge pipelines are being built, and who owns (or owned) the land on which it's being built, and how that ownership came to be. One of the more galling aspects of Keystone XL was that it would involve the U.S. government taking land via Eminent Domain, and then turning it over to a privately held foreign-owned company to build a pipeline that will inevitably leak and pollute our waters and land. That type of land-grab may actually be occurring now with Enbridge.

This sort of transferring of private property used to be something that the Republican party abhorred. They still tout that being against "government power over the private domain" is one of their a core values. Meanwhile, it seems they really only have one core value anymore...


And getting re-elected to a government they purport to hate.

19 comments (Latest Comment: 02/04/2015 21:25:05 by Mondobubba)
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