As expected, the president has vetoed the bill that passed both houses (surviving a Senate filibuster) that would have authorized a pipeline that would move crude oil from the Alberta oils sands region and the Bakken shield in North Dakota, a state now producing more oil than any other except Texas, to the Gulf coast.
This veto was, of course, not unexpected and it is unlikely to be overridden in either house of Congress. So the bill was, in a sense, just a political gesture on the part of the new Republican-controlled Congress. It is only the president’s third veto in more than six years in office, but there is likely to be many more as he no longer has Harry Reed to protect him politically.
But his stated reasons for the veto are almost comical:
In a message to Congress, Mr. Obama cited the ongoing State Department review as the reason for his veto, saying “because this act of Congress conflicts with established executive branch procedures and cuts short thorough consideration of issues that could bear on our national interest—including our security, safety and environment—it has earned my veto.”
“Through this bill, the United States Congress attempts to circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether or not building and operating a cross-border pipeline serves the national interest,” Mr. Obama wrote. He added that while the presidential veto is an executive power he takes seriously, “I also take seriously my responsibility to the American people.”
Asked if the Obama administration might eventually approve the pipeline after the State Department review is complete, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said, “That possibility still does exist. This is an ongoing review.”
This is truly rich. There is not a person on planet earth who thinks that the Keystone XL Pipeline has not been studied enough already to make informed judgments. And President Obama stated on 22 occasions that the executive branch lacked the power to change immigration law, a power reserved to Congress. But once the 2014 election was out of the way, he changed the law anyway by executive order. His complaint was that Congress had failed to act and so he had to. But when Congress, fed up with the unconscionable foot-dragging over an oil pipeline, tried to do by constitutionally correct means what the president had refused to do, he is outraged at an attempt “to circumvent longstanding and proven processes.” In other words, the Constitution is optional for the Obama administration, but executive branch procedures are absolute for Congress.
This is shameless, but what else could be expected of this administration?
Category Archives: Oil
“The permitting for the Keystone pipeline has taken longer than it took for the United States to win World War II.”
The Senate passed legislation Thursday to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, a vote that will result in President Barack Obama’s first veto of legislation from the new Republican-led House and Senate.
Senate Republicans called up the Keystone bill as the first piece of legislation in the new Senate, and gave the Senate a different look by allowing consideration of several amendments to the bill throughout January.
The final vote was 62-36, and only 51 were needed for passage.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said earlier in the day that it’s time to pass the common-sense bill that Republicans and even many Democrats support.
“Constructing Keystone would pump billions into our economy. It would support thousands of good American jobs,” McConnell said. “And as the president’s own State Department has indicated, it would do this with minimal environmental impact.”
Bloomberg reported that the Department of the Interior plan supported by Obama would “protect” 12.28 million acres of land in addition to 7 million acres already set aside as wilderness. Yet, this area could contain 10.3 billion barrels of oil, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS). Since the 1970s, there has been a fight over whether or not to drill in small portion of ANWR.
The White House released video of ANWR showing beautiful wildlife and snow peaked mountains, but little of the coastal plains some have described as “tundra.” In 2001, CBS “60 Minutes” was much more honest. Reporter Lesley Stahl took a trip to the proposed drilling site in ANWR which looked more like Siberia than the garden of Eden.
But many liberal news outlets have used similar footage or descriptions as the Obama White House to influence the political debate over drilling there. NBC’s “Today” showed footage of snowcapped mountains during a story about ANWR on December 23, 2005. Yet, the proposed drilling would have taken place on Alaska’s northern coast, nowhere near mountains and only on about 2,000 acres, according to Fox News. “Only the flat and featureless coastal plain would be affected, and even there only a small portion of its 1.5 million acres,” Fox News reported.
Jonah Goldberg, editor-at-large for National Review Online, visited ANWR in 2001. He described the area where proposed drilling would occur as “flat tundra,” and said current oilfields were placed “on a comparatively tiny archipelago of parking-lot-sized islands of human activity in a boundless ocean of tundra.”
Yet, drilling at Prudhoe Bay, nearby the ANWR, has not destroyed species. “Environmental opponents of drilling cannot point to a single species that has been driven to extinction or even a population decline attributable to Prudhoe Bay,” a Heritage Foundation analyst said at FoxNews.com.
Nebraska’s highest court threw out a challenge Friday to a proposed route for the Keystone XL oil pipeline, even though a majority of judges agreed the landowners who sued should have won their case.
The decision removes a major roadblock for the $8 billion cross-continental project that Republicans have vowed to make a key part of their 2015 agenda in Congress.
Four judges on the seven-member Nebraska Supreme Court said the landowners should have won the case. Their lawsuit challenged a 2012 state law that allowed the governor to empower Canada-based TransCanada to force them to sell their property for the project.
But because the lawsuit raised a constitutional question, a supermajority of five judges was needed to rule on the law, meaning “the legislation must stand by default,” the court said in its opinion.
The proposed 1,179-mile pipeline would carry more than 800,000 barrels of crude oil a day from Canada to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast, passing through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma along the way.
About $1 billion in Japanese funding that Japan claimed was part of a UN initiative to help developing countries take action against climate change went, unnoticed, towards Japanese companies for the construction of three coal-fired power plants, the Associated Press reported Monday.
Coal-burning power plants are the world’s biggest source of atmospheric CO2, a key driver of global warming.
U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres was apparently unaware of where those funds wound up until it was brought to her attention by the AP. Figueres told the AP that “there is no argument” for supporting coal-powered projects with climate money, and that “unabated coal has no room in the future energy system.”
And yet, here we are…
The U.S. government said Wednesday it has decided not to give permission for a proposed pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, a project hailed by the domestic oil industry but denounced by environmental groups and landowners along the proposed route.
“The Department of State recommended to President (Barack) Obama that the presidential permit for the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline be denied and that, at this time, the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline be determined not to serve the national interest,” the department said.
Obama, who had delegated the process of evaluating the project to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said in a separate statement that he agreed with her agency’s recommendation.
The department said it recommended denying the permit because a move by congressional Republicans to fast-track a decision on the pipeline had left it with “insufficient” time.
It added that its “denial of the permit application does not preclude any subsequent permit application or applications for similar projects.”
Next week, Harry Reid will hold a vote on the Keystone pipeline. Why? To help Mary Landrieu hang on to her Senate seat. Landrieu wants to posture as a pro-energy Keystone supporter, and Reid is happy to give her the opportunity.
There is a nice irony here. Tom Steyer contributed (or promised to contribute, anyway) $100 million to anti-Keystone Democrats. The Democrats happily accepted his money and nearly all of them toed the “green” line. Now that the election is over–except for Landrieu’s race–who cares about carbon dioxide that used to be the greatest threat ever known to mankind? Not Harry Reid.
It will be interesting to see how the Senate votes. In 2012, the Senate actually voted on Keystone; the tally was 56-42, not enough to overcome the Democrats’ filibuster. In 2013, 62 senators purported to vote for the pipeline. But that was on John Hoeven’s amendment to a non-binding budget resolution, so it was just for show.
It seems pretty clear that the lame-duck session will not muster 60 votes, which means that the Senate bill–co-sponsored by Mary Landrieu and supported by every Republican–will go down to defeat. But the Democrats’ political purpose will be served, which is all that Mary Landrieu and Harry Reid care about. And Tom Steyer hasn’t been heard to object, either.
Oil prices sank again on Monday, giving consumers more of a break and causing a split among OPEC leaders about what action should be taken, if any, to halt the slide.
The price drop has led to a near free fall in gasoline prices in the United States. On Monday, the national average price for regular gasoline was $3.20, 9 cents lower than it was a week ago and 14 cents below the price a year ago, according to the AAA motor club.
The price at the pump generally follows oil after a few days, leading energy experts to predict lower prices for the rest of the month at least.
“This is not your garden variety autumn price decline,” said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at GasBuddy.com, which reports fuel prices from filling stations across the country. “Clearly there is a rift in OPEC, and that means we are more likely to see a price war over the next six months. Crude oil is teetering on the brink of collapse.”
Most oil analysts say that the companies that have led the boom in drilling across North Dakota and Texas are insulated from the declines for the time being, with the break-even levels for investments around $60 a barrel — which is more than $20 below current levels.
With the number of rigs working in the United States at or near record levels, some oil executives are beginning to express concern about investment decisions next year.
n this period of national gloom comes an idea — a crazy-sounding notion, or maybe, actually, an epiphany. How about an all-Canadian route to liberate that oil sands crude from Alberta’s isolation and America’s fickleness? Canada’s own environmental and aboriginal politics are holding up a shorter and cheaper pipeline to the Pacific that would supply a shipping portal to oil-thirsty Asia.
Instead, go east, all the way to the Atlantic.
Thus was born Energy East, an improbable pipeline that its backers say has a high probability of being built. It will cost C$12 billion ($10.7 billion) and could be up and running by 2018. Its 4,600-kilometer (2,858-mile) path, taking advantage of a vast length of existing and underused natural gas pipeline, would wend through six provinces and four time zones. It would be Keystone on steroids, more than twice as long and carrying a third more crude.
“The best way to get Keystone XL built is to make it irrelevant,” said Frank McKenna, who served three terms as premier of New Brunswick and was ambassador to the U.S. before becoming a banker.
So confident is TransCanada Corp., the chief backer of both Keystone and Energy East, of success that Alex Pourbaix, the executive in charge, spoke of the cross-Canada line as virtually a done deal.
The U.S. shale boom is about to hit another big milestone, as it looks like fracking will propel American liquid petroleum production (that includes oil and natural gas liquids) past Saudi Arabia for the first time in nearly a quarter century. The FT reports:
US production of oil and related liquids such as ethane and propane was neck-and-neck with Saudi Arabia in June and again in August at about 11.5m barrels a day, according to the International Energy Agency, the watchdog backed by rich countries.
With US production continuing to boom, its output is set to exceed Saudi Arabia’s this month or next for the first time since 1991. […]
Rising oil and gas production has caused the US trade deficit in energy to shrink, and prompted a wave of investment in petrochemicals and other related industries. […] It is also having an impact on global security. Imports are expected to provide just 21 per cent of US liquid fuel consumption next year, down from 60 per cent in 2005.
The natural gas liquids portion is largely a byproduct of drilling for shale gas, and are used as a feedstock for petrochemical companies (like BASF, which recently decided to move more of its operations into the United States). Take those NGLs out of the equation, and Saudi Arabia and Russia both edge out the United States on crude production. But American oil output is expected to break 9 million barrels per day sometime this year, edging closer to Russia’s 10.1 million b/d and Saudi’s 9.7 million b/d.
With productivity continuing to rise, the United States has a chance to become the single biggest producer of crude oil sometime in the near future. If you had said that a decade ago, you would’ve been laughed at and called a fool. What a difference fracking makes.