By Karl Gotthardt
During recent month the XL Keystone pipeline, which will run from the Oil Sands in Alberta to Texas, has been in the news. Celebrity protesters masqueraded in Washington along with environmentalist. Their prognosis was the the pipeline would be the end of the planet. To proceed with the pipeline on the U.S. side of the border a “Presidential Certificate” is required. In a recent interview on Nebraska television station Obama said that the decision would be based on health and economic factors and that the decision would be made in the months to come.
A final decision on the pipeline was expected to be reached by the end of the year. Obama’s statement seems to indicate that the decision will be delayed. To say that it is Obama’s base primarily that wants the pipeline stoppe, would be an understatement. Some of Obama’s comments and those of the opponents of the pipeline in Nebraska are puzzling. A pipeline right of way is approximately 30 yards in width, the pipeline is normally covered with 3 1/2 feet plus cover, reclaimed and returned for the original use to the owner of the land. It certainly does not take up so much land that it would drive wildlife away.
The other issue Obama mentioned was that of water. While some of the older pipelines have leaked recently, the technology for the new lines is different, as is the monitoring of lines in use. An EPA and State Department extensive environmental impact assessment has found that there would be minimal impact on the environment as a result of the pipeline.
“My general attitude is, what’s best for the American people? What’s best for our economy both short term and long term? But also what’s best for the health of the American people?” Obama said in an interview with Nebraska television station KETV, discussing the criteria he would judge when making a final decision.
The White House has made clear that the State Department is handling the review process, but activists believe the final call will be made by the White House, and Obama’s discussion of the criteria indicated he would have the final say.
“We need to make sure that we have energy security and aren’t just relying on Middle East sources, but there’s a way of doing that and still making sure that the health and safety of the American people and folks in Nebraska are protected,” Obama said.
“And that’s how I’ll be measuring these recommendations when they come to me.”
Opposition is crystallizing in Nebraska, where the pipe would cross the Ogallala Aquifer and the Sand Hills region, home to whooping cranes and other endangered species.
If the decision is based on facts and if the President is really interested in jobs and energy independence, he should quit dithering as he has on so many issues. The pipeline has been ready to go for three years on the Canadian side. It promises relatively minimum risk to the environment and thousands of temporary and permanent full time Union jobs.
The Alberta Oil Sands have been demonized by environmental groups with fear tactics and outright lies. Both the Canadian and Alberta Government in cooperation with the Oil Industry have established stringent environmental rules to ensure that the areas are reclaimed. Below is a link that desribes the Alberta Oil Sands Reclamation Process.
The anti-pipeline forces have had the loudest voice and will certainly have the ear of President Obama. He knows that it will be a tight election and he can’t afford to lose his left base. His statement “We need to make sure that we have energy security and aren’t just relying on Middle East sources, but there’s a way of doing that and still making sure that the health and safety of the American people and folks in Nebraska are protected,” seems to give an indication of the direction he is going. No matter which way Obama goes, fact is that the Alberta Oil Sands will be further developed. There will be Asian markets for that oil.