Friday, April 6, 2012

Keystone XL Pipeline & Obama: Busts Lies From Republicans

It is another election cycle; and as in war, the first loss, the first casualty is truth.
The following is from the weekly update.  Anywhere that the type is enlarged and/or bolded, it is my emphasis added - /DG.  Please see our earlier posts on the misleading information and outright lies from the right on this topic, as they sell out the citizens to benefit their corporate donors, especially big oil.
And don't forget the hand of the same big money sources that are pushing the culture wars.  They are the ones making the big profits off the high gas prices.
They right has lied about the pipeline jobs, they are lying about the impact the pipeline could have on petroleum prices.  They are also lying about the intention to export this oil, not use it domestically, through the foreign trade zone at Port Arthur, Texas --- where they will be able to avoid paying taxes to the U.S. on their exports, not saving us money, not making us money, but losing the country money that is put back in the pockets of big oil.  That leaves more debt, more financial burden for the 99% of us in this country. 
THAT is how special interest works.  THAT is how the corruption happens in our government, and it is worse on the right than on the left, when it comes to big oil and crooks in government.

More Pipeline Piffle (And An Alaskan Absurdity)

The misleading assault on the president’s energy policies continues.
  • A conservative group’s TV ad claims “we will all pay more at the pump” because the administration “blocked” the Keystone XL pipeline.
  • Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell claims that the pipeline “could have brought 700,000 barrels of oil to the market each day.”
  • The TV ad also claims that Obama “opposed exploring for energy in Alaska,” which is only half true.
All those claims are false or misleading. Regarding the pipeline, as we’ve reported, there’s nothing stopping more Canadian oil from coming into the U.S. right now. Existing cross-border pipelines could carry perhaps 1 million additional barrels of oil per day, and surplus capacity is projected to persist for years to come even without the Keystone project.
Furthermore, Obama hasn’t “blocked” it. The Keystone’s sponsor says it expects the White House to approve the northern leg, from Hardisty, Alberta, to Steele City, Nebraska, in 2013, after it submits an application for a new route around Nebraska’s environmentally sensitive Sandhills region. Meanwhile, it is going ahead with the southern portion, which Obama has endorsed, ordering agencies to expedite permitting.
As for the claim that Obama “opposed exploring for energy in Alaska.” The truth is that Shell Oil days ago said it expects to begin drilling exploratory wells this summer in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas off Alaska’s Arctic coast, now that the Interior Department has granted approvals for the company’s oil spill response plans.
Nine Dollar Gas
The latest TV ad to heap blame on Obama is “Nine Dollar Gas” from the American Energy Alliance, an advocacy group that does not disclose the sources of its money. It is a “subsidiary” of the industry-funded Institute for Energy Research. Thomas J. Pyle, a one-time aide to former Texas congressman Tom Delay, is president of both groups. Politico reported that both groups are funded in part by brothers Charles and David Koch and their donor network.
AEA announced that it was spending $2.5 million to air the ad for two weeks in eight states: New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, Iowa, Florida, Ohio, Virginia and Michigan. The ad first started airing in Jacksonville, Fla., March 30, according to Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group. The group said it would later spend another $1.1 million on the buy, and include “radio, Internet, and print media advertising” as well as “grass roots education and mobilization.”
The 30-second spot makes a number of incorrect or misleading assertions, but we’ll take the pipeline claim first. It says Obama “blocked the Keystone pipeline, so we will all pay more at the pump.”
That echoes a common Republican refrain, which Sen. McConnell has just repeated in an opinion piece circulated to home-state newspapers in Kentucky. (Thanks to Al Cross, of the University of Kentucky’s Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, for alerting us to this.)
Mitch McConnell, March 30: His [Obama's] consent to that single project could have brought 700,000 barrels of oil to the market each day and created thousands of new America jobs. Yet President Obama blocked the pipeline, despite an exhaustive three-year review.
The truth, however, is that the pipeline has been delayed, not “blocked.” And it could not possibly bring in more Canadian oil until many years in the future.
What we wrote in a March 22 item — about a similarly misleading ad by the Republican-leaning Crossroads GPS group — bears repeating here.
First, the president has merely delayed a decision on the controversial northern leg of the project, which would bring oil from Hardisty, Alberta, to Steele City, Nebraska. The company that wants to build the pipeline– TransCanada Corporation — has yet to choose a new route through Nebraska to avoid the environmentally sensitive Sandhills area. The original route met with bipartisan opposition from the state’s political leaders. The company says it is still working with Nebraska officials but expects to submit a new application to the White House this year. It expects to get approval in the first quarter of 2013, and place the pipeline in service in 2015.
Meanwhile, there’s nothing to prevent more Canadian oil from coming into the U.S. right now, should Canada be able and willing to send it. Existing cross-border pipelines already have much more capacity than they are using. Those pipelines have the capacity to bring in more than 1 million barrels per day of additional Canadian oil, according to a study produced for the U.S. State Department by EnSys Energy & Systems Inc. of Lexington, Mass., in December 2010. And the study predicts that surplus capacity will persist at least until the year 2020, even if the Keystone is never built (see table 3-4). The 700,000 barrels that McConnell refers to is the additional surplus capacity that the Keystone’s northern leg would provide.
(Our sister site,, made fun of this GOP claim with an apt analogy. Just as installing more mailboxes doesn’t result in getting more mail, adding more surplus pipeline capacity won’t result in more oil.)
Meanwhile, Obama has embraced the southern portion of the Keystone project. It will begin in Cushing, Okla., and help eliminate a bottleneck that has prevented a glut of lower-cost oil from reaching U.S. Gulf Coast refineries, which have been clamoring for it. On March 21, Obama even said he would order federal agencies to make faster permitting and review decisions, a mostly symbolic gesture, since a TransCanada Corporation official had said earlier that he expects to get the needed permits and to begin construction as soon as this June anyway. The company says it expects the Cushing-to-the-Gulf pipeline to start carrying oil in “mid to late 2013.”
Exploring for Energy in Alaska
The American Energy Alliance ad also claims that Obama “opposed exploring for energy in Alaska.” But that’s not entirely true. In fact, Shell Oil says it expects to begin drilling exploratory wells in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas this summer, now that the administration has approved the company’s spill response plans.
Much to the chagrin of environmentalists, the administration has been active lately in moving along exploratory drilling plans for Alaska. On Feb. 17, the Interior Department approved Shell Oil’s spill response plan for exploratory drilling in the Chukchi Sea. Then, on March 28, the Interior Department approved Shell’s spill response plan for the Beaufort Sea. The Associated Press reported that Shell expects to begin drilling in both locations this summer.
Associated Press, March 28: Shell hopes to drill exploratory wells in both locations during the summer open-water season using separate drilling ships. Shell Alaska spokesman Curtis Smith said in an email that the approval is a major milestone.
“It further reinforces that Shell’s approach to Arctic exploration is aligned with the high standards the Department of Interior expects from an offshore leader and adds to our confidence that drilling will finally commence in the shallow waters off Alaska this summer,” he said.
Shell does need other federal approvals before drilling can begin, but the company says it is confident that it can gain those approvals.
The American Energy Alliance bases its claim that Obama “opposed exploring for energy in Alaska” on the president’s opposition to the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act of 2012, which would have lifted the ban on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. That’s true. He did oppose the bill for that reason, among others. But that doesn’t mean that the president is opposed to exploring for energy elsewhere in Alaska.
Old Oil Claims
The TV ad also contains several claims that we have already vetted and written about. Among them:
  • “Since Obama became president gas prices have nearly doubled.” That’s true. But as we’ve repeatedly written, oil is sold on world markets, and gasoline prices are driven by the cost of oil. The reason for the current spike in oil prices is “mainly geopolitical,” according to Daniel Yergin, chairman of IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates and author of several books on world oil markets. It’s misleading at best to suggest there is a connection between the president’s energy policies and the doubling of gasoline prices.
  • “[Obama] gave millions of tax dollars to Solyndra, which then went bankrupt.” It’s true that the Obama administration loaned $535 million to Solyndra, a solar energy company that has since filed for bankruptcy. But what does that have to do with high gasoline prices? Nothing.
  • “Obama’s energy secretary said we need to, quote, ‘boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.’ That’s $9 a gallon.” It’s true that Steven Chu said those words. But, as we previously wrote, Chu made that remark before becoming Obama’s energy secretary and even before Obama won the 2008 presidential election. Not long after becoming energy secretary, Chu said it would be “completely unwise to want to increase the price of gasoline.”
– Brooks Jackson and Eugene Kiely


  1. One aspect of this discussion that has not gotten enough attention ... States Rights.

    Normally, the same Republicans would be bemoaning about the Federal Government exercising its will over the states residents ... but in this case nobody is discussing WHY President Obama has not approved the waiver ... because Nebraskans are concerned about their water.
    The Nebraska legislature is currently debating LB1161 that would authorize a $2 million study to find a route through for TransCanada's proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline. It would require the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality to have at least one public hearing before making a recommendation about a route. This is the latest action by the Nebraska legislature after going into Special Session last November to address other concerns and Governor Dave Heimeman, a Republican, asked President Obama for a delay.

    The study bill illustrates how difficult it would be for the federal government to grant any sort of preliminary approval for the pipeline project before this fall’s presidential election as it is unlikely Nebraska could have a new route approved by then.

    It's a case of "Not in my backyard" .... and normally concerns over eminent domain would be at issue ... except in Keystone's case, thanks to HR 1433 Private Property Rights Protection Act of 2012 authored by James Sensenbrenner (R-WI-05) and approved by the "cowards" in the House, who used a Voice Vote (normally they want everyone on record, so this is rare) to send to the Senate legislation the bill exempts the Keystone XL pipeline from the eminent domain restrictions.

    Yep, we hear a lot about trampling on States Rights until the Republicans need to make phony political arguments.

  2. Oh, and more thought ... considering the photo (above) of President Obama in Cushing OK stating that he was pushing his Administration to quickly grant the approval for the pipeline from OK to LA .... and President Obama telling outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he will have 'more flexibility' to deal with contentious issues after the November elections ...
    Well, my gut says the simple math is a re-elected President Obama will approve the Canadian expansion early in his second term ... (and we know that a-President Romney would do so even earlier), thus isn't the real issue the one that you cited ... American tax system that encourages businesses to use our ports to export their products.

  3. I wouldn't underestimate the push back in Nebraska - something highlighted to me by the number of 'reads' on our statcounter service FROM Nebraska every time I write about this topic.

    If he ok's it, I think he would wait strategically until much closer to the election, so he can claim all the good reasons for not rushing - most notably the pipeline surplus - as a last minute leverage.

    But the other consideration is that if there is a strong enough push back, like there was earlier against this, and particularly if he decides to deprive the Koch Brothers of their benefits from pushing this, hitting them in their pocketbook so they can't recoup their expenditures to try to defeat him.......which would benefit not only Obama, but all those other candidates they are funding for and against, I think the upside is higher for Obama to NOT approve it, but to keep the possibility of doing so only in a safe and methodical way.

    It would be an excellent opportunity to highlight the lessons learned from trusting BP, resulting in that catastrophe that worked so badly against him at the time. There was a recent article that I read about the tar balls that are still washing up on beaches, having an unexpectedly high seriously dangerous level of certain extremely dangerous microbes, to the point that people were told not to touch them because of the dangers.
    And despite the extensive advertising campaign by BP, I don't think anyone in the south really believes they were well done-by when it came to BP, and the before versus after.

    I think those old white racist evangelicals are more outnumbered every year, as their numbers die off, and the mainstream world of diverse people incrases. There were very few people voting in those southern primaries. I think the demographics have not been as accurately calculated. Time will tell, and gaffes could further lose this for either side, but given what is happening with ALEC, this may be an old toothless tiger of an issue.