The Keystone dilemma 0

How happy could I be with either

Were t’other dear charmer away.

                                                                       – John Gay: The Beggar’s Opera

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Keystone XL is a TransCanada pipeline project to bring Canadian oil to the US.

TransCanada says of it:

The U.S. consumes 15 million barrels of oil each day and imports 10 to 11 million barrels per day.  Industry forecasts predict oil consumption will continue at these levels for the next two to three decades, so a secure supply of crude oil is critical to U.S. energy security. …

TransCanada is poised to put 13,000 Americans to work to construct the pipeline – pipefitters, welders, mechanics, electricians, heavy equipment operators, among other jobs – in addition to 7,000 manufacturing jobs that would be created across the U.S.  Additionally, local businesses along the pipeline route will benefit from the 118,000 spin-off jobs Keystone XL will create through increased business for local goods and service providers.

Rich Trzupek comments at Front Page:

Not only would Keystone XL generate tens of thousands of new jobs, both in terms of construction jobs and in terms of a myriad of employment opportunities down the supply chain, it would also take a huge bite out of overseas oil imports. At full capacity, Keystone XL would provide about ten percent of America’s crude oil demand, without the slightest risk of a foreign tyrant cutting off production or closing a supply route. 

But there is opposition to the project by environmentalists, who have been allowed to become all too powerful. Trzupek praises Prime Minister Stephen Harper for standing up to them:

Last week Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper demonstrated that he’s more than willing to do that which his counterpart in the White House is unable or unwilling to do: display a little backbone when dealing with radical environmentalists and their pet causes. Harper’s administration both commenced hearings on an alternative pipeline that would be used to ship Canadian crude to China, as well as putting the “green movement” on notice that extremism masquerading as environmentalism will no longer be tolerated in the Great White North.

President Obama, however, is a fully committed member of the green movement. So he’s against the project. But the trade unions, which he likes to please, are of course for it, so he wants to be for it too. He’d be happy with either, if only the other weren’t there.

Unfortunately, the combination of green fear-mongering and President Obama’s predictable dithering has put approval of Keystone XL in doubt. Per his deal with Congress the President has until February 21 to approve the pipeline project or to explain his refusal to do so. Yet, even if the President does approve the project and risk annoying those among his supporters who worship planet earth even more than they do him, there is no guarantee that construction of Keystone XL would start anytime soon.

As Harper is aware, the United States is as litigious a society as there is on earth and – thanks to themany misguided decisions made in the pursuit of environmental purity by both partiesthe massive statutory and regulatory infrastructures that have been constructed in the name of protecting mother earth practically guarantee that environmental groups could tie up an approval of Keystone XL in the courts for years. It would be silly to put all one’s eggs in one basket in any case, but given the dysfunctional manner with which America addresses environmental issues and energy issues, Harper would be worse than foolish to assume that Canada’s best energy customer will continue to be so.

So, the Harper government opened hearings on the Northern Gateway pipeline, an alternative route that would send crude from Alberta to Kimat, British Columbia, where it would be loaded onto tankers and shipped to energy-starved China. To be sure that pipeline faces opposition and its own bureaucratic obstacles as well, but with hundreds of billions of revenue at risk it is clearly well worth the effort to move forward on both tracks. Keystone XL is surely the preferred – and sensible – way to get Alberta’s crude to market, but Northern Gateway will do just fine if the United States is too stupid to approve a project that is so clearly in our national interest. …

That the Harper government is savvy enough to pursue a second pipeline option is testament to its wisdom, but the fact that it also called out (finally!) the environmental movement for its unrestrained, unscientific extremism speaks volumes about its courage. In an open letter published at the Financial Times, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver put environmental groups on notice last week, letting them know that their tawdry little games would no longer be tolerated in Canada. He called them out in no uncertain terms:

“These groups threaten to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda. They seek to exploit any loophole they can find, stacking public hearings with bodies to ensure that delays kill good projects. They use funding from foreign special-interest groups to undermine Canada’s national economic interest. They attract jet-setting celebrities …  to lecture Canadians not to develop our natural resources. Finally, if all other avenues have failed, they will take a quintessential American approach: Sue everyone and anyone to delay the project even further. They do this because they know it can work. It works because it helps them to achieve their ultimate objective: delay a project to the point it becomes economically unviable.”

How refreshing it is to hear a leader of a representative form of government speak in such a clear, uncompromising manner. Oliver’s words are a reminder why plain-spoken leaders like Reagan and Christie are so well-received: they are remarkable because they are so rare. And surely Oliver is correct on all counts. For what are massive, well-heeled environmental groups like the Sierra Club and NRDC if not special interests? What are rich, finger-wagging Hollywood celebrities like Streisand, Cameron and DiCaprio if not hypocrites? What is the reason behind the numerous, pointless lawsuits that greenies file if not to obstruct and demoralize those who seek to create wealth?

A little more than a month from now, President Obama will be forced to do something he hates to do: make an actual decision, all the more so because if he approves Keystone XL he will upset his green base, while if he kills it he will annoy his union base. History suggests he’ll look for a new way to waffle – perhaps by killing the project for now, while promising to revisit it in 2013 – but no matter what happens it’s clear that Canada is determined to find a way to sell its riches to someone. It ought to be us, yet perhaps this too is just another sign of the way power is shifting in the world today. For not only are China and India showing more leadership than Obama’s America, it seems that even Canada is too.

Friends of the Earth are, expectedly, among the complaining environmentalist groups. Their case against the pipeline and against the means used to extract the oil may be found here  –  a howl of distress against what they consider a dirty and dangerous project. This is one of their complaints:

Northern Alberta, the region where tar sands oil is extracted, is home to many indigenous populations. Important parts of their cultural traditions and livelihood are coming under attack because of tar sands operations. Communities living downstream from tailing ponds have seen spikes in rates of rare cancers, renal failure, lupus, and hyperthyroidism. In the lakeside village of Fort Chipewyan, for example, 100 of the town’s 1,200 residents have died from cancer.

So about 8% of this village’s deaths have been due to cancer. Over what period is not given.

According to this official source, 24% of Canadian women and 29% of Canadian men will die of cancer. So the number of cancer deaths downstream from the extraction operations in Northern Alberta would seem to be exceptionally low. 

The rest of the Friends of the Earth’s arguments may be assessed as valid or invalid according to your investigation or your bias.

Our investigation of just the one argument, but mostly our bias, puts us firmly in favor of the project.

 

P.S. Obama has made a decision about Keystone XL. He’s decided against it.

Ghana, stuck with the wind 6

The American Dictator (yes, he’s the one we mean) is doing his utmost to keep Africa in poverty and despair.

Roy Innis, national chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality, writes today at Townhall:

I see Africa as a … partner with America on behalf of the future we want for all of our children,” President Obama declared in Ghana last July.

However, three months later, the President signed an executive order requiring that the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and other federal agencies reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with their projects by 30% over the next ten years. The order undermines the ability of Sub-Saharan African nations to achieve energy, economic and human rights progress. 

Ghana is trying to build a 130-MW gas-fired power plant, to bring electricity’s blessings to more of its people, schools, hospitals and businesses. Today, almost half of Ghanaians never have access to electricity, or get it only a few hours a week, leaving their futures bleak.

Most people in Ghana are forced to cook and heat with wood, crop wastes or dung, says Franklin Cudjoe, director of the Imani (Hope) Center for Policy and Education, in Accra. The indoor air pollution from these fires causes blindness, asthma and severe lung infections that kill a million women and young children every year. Countless more Africans die from intestinal diseases caused by eating unrefrigerated, spoiled food.

But when Ghana turned to its United States “partner” and asked OPIC to support the $185-million project, OPIC refused to finance even part of it – thus adding as much as 20% to its financing cost. Repeated across Africa, these extra costs for meeting “climate change prevention” policies will threaten numerous projects, and prolong poverty and disease for millions.

Sub-Saharan Africa is home to 800 million people, 80% of whom live on less than $2.50 per day. Over 700 million people – twice the population of the USA and Canada combined – rarely or never have access to the lifesaving, prosperity-creating benefits of electricity …

Even in South Africa, the most advanced nation in this region, 25% of the populace still has no electricity. Pervasively insufficient electrical power has meant frequent brownouts that have hampered factory output and forced gold and diamond mines to shut down, because of risks that miners would suffocate in darkness deep underground. The country also suffers from maternal mortality rates 36 times higher than in the US, and tuberculosis rates 237 times higher.

And yet President Obama told his Ghanaian audience last July that Africa is gravely “threatened” by global warming, which he argues “will spread disease, shrink water resources and deplete crops,” leading to more famine and conflict. Africa, he says, can “increase access to power, while skipping – leapfrogging – the dirtier phase of development,” by using its “bountiful” wind, solar, geothermal and biofuels energy.

The President made these remarks before the scandalous “Climategate” emails were made public, and headline-grabbing claims about melting glaciers, burning Amazon rainforests and disappearing African agriculture were shown to be mere speculation and exaggeration from climate activists

Literally thousands of scientists disagree with claims that we face an imminent manmade global warming disaster, or that warming is connected to disease or harvests. Africa has faced drought, famine and disease since before Biblical times, and armed conflict is far more likely where a lack of electricity perpetuates poverty, scarcity and dashed hopes.

Wind and solar power are too costly, intermittent and land-intensive to meet the needs of emerging economies

That is why rapidly-developing nations like China and India are building power plants at the rate of one per week… Nearly all this electricity must be based on coal.

Wind power is constrained by high cost and limited reliability. Nuclear energy faces major cost and political obstacles. To electrify India in the absence of coal, the country would have to find 14 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, build 250 nuclear power plants, or construct the equivalent of 450 Hoover Dams, Penn State University professor Frank Clemente calculates. Those alternatives are unrealistic.

Blessed with abundant supplies of coal, South Africa has applied for a World Bank loan to continue building its 4,800-megawatt Medupi power plant. The Medupi plant would be equipped with the latest in “supercritical clean coal,” pollution control and “carbon capture” technologies. However, the project and loan have run into a buzz saw of opposition, led by the Center for American Progress, Africa Action, Friends of the Earth and Sierra Club. These radical groups claim to champion justice and better health for Africa, but oppose the very technologies that would make that possible…

The proposed Ghana and South Africa power plants already leapfrog dirtier development phases, by providing state-of-the-art pollution control technology. The energy alternatives President Obama envisions would do little to address the desperate crises that threaten Africans’ health, welfare and lives.

China and India are showing Africa the way forward. Those of us in already developed countries should support Africa’s aspirations – and help it address real health and environmental problems, by using affordable, dependable energy that truly is the lifeblood of modern societies, and the key to a better future for children everywhere.