Obama on Keystone XL pipeline, 'the fix is in'

Obama says it should not be approved unless made ‘carbon neutral’.

OSFC Rapid Response on Obama’s Keystone XL Announcement Not To Approve Keystone XL Unless Determined First It Will Not Lead to net Increase of GHG Emissions

Ahead of President Obama’s announcement of his climate agenda today, the Huffington Post reports that the President will ask the State Department “not to approve the construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline unless it can first determine that it will not lead to a net increase in greenhouse gas emissions, a senior administration official told The Huffington Post. The policy pronouncement will come during the president’s highly publicized speech on climate change at Georgetown University on Tuesday. It will add another chapter to what has been the most politically difficult energy-related issue confronting this White House.”

Well, the State Department has already found that Keystone XL will have no impact on the climate because Canada will still develop its oil sands.

In fact, if Keystone XL isn’t built, global greenhouse gas emissions are likely to increase because more oil sands crude would be refined in countries like China where current emissions standards allow three times more sulfur dioxide than in the United States. Canada accounts for only 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions and emissions from oil sands are a small fraction of that.

Oil Sands Fact Check has been making this point for quite some time. Here are a few facts President Obama needs to know.

  • As we’ve said before, in its 2011 Keystone XL assessment, the State Department was very clear that regardless of Keystone XL’s fate, Canada will still develop its oil sands, and therefore rejecting the pipeline will have no impact on the climate: “from a global perspective, the project is not likely to result in incremental GHG emissions.”  In its 2013 assessment of the project, the State Department reiterated this point: “…the incremental life-cycle emissions associated with the proposed Project are estimated in the range of 0.07 to 0.83 MMTCO2e annually.” This number, according to the State Department’s calculation is not considered to be a significant incremental increase.
  • ·         The Washington Post’s March 4 editorial, Environmentalists are fighting the wrong battles, stated that the State Department’s 2,000 page analysis “dismantled the case that nixing the Canadian pipeline must be a priority for anyone concerned about climate change.”


  • Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson admits in his Feb. 25 piece Obama has the power to act on global warming, that President Obama’s “seriousness about addressing climate change is not his pending decision on the much-debated Keystone XL pipeline.”  Like so many others, he explains, “the oil is likely to be extracted eventually, regardless of the pipeline decision.”


  • New York Times op-ed contributor Joe Nocera wrote in his February 18 piece, How Not to Fix Climate Change, that approval of the Keystone XL pipeline “should be a no-brainer for the president, for all the reasons I stated earlier, and one more: the strategy of activists like McKibben, Brune and Hansen, who have made the Keystone pipeline their line in the sand, is utterly boneheaded.”


  • “One of the world’s top climate scientists has calculated that emissions from Alberta’s oil sands are unlikely to make a big difference to global warming… ‘I was surprised by the results of our analysis,’ said Andrew Weaver, a University of Victoria climate modeller, who has been a lead author on two reports from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. ‘I thought it was larger than it was.’… ‘The conventional and unconventional oil is not the problem with global warming,’ Dr. Weaver said.” (Globe and Mail, February 2012)


  • “And despite fears by climate change activists that increased oil sand production has profoundly negative consequences to global warming, Alberta’s massive reserve base contributes relatively little to the problem at a global scale, [Michael Levi, senior fellow for energy and environment at Council on Foreign Relations] says. Though increasing oil sands production, which many expect will triple by 2030, will grow Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions to a huge extent if business-as-usual practices continue, the added carbon dioxide emissions are marginal in the U.S. and global contexts. Studies show CO2 output from oil sands production is equivalent to 0.5 percent of U.S. aggregate emissions from energy use and less than 0.1 percent of total global emissions.” (Scientific American, March 2009)


  • “…regarding the Keystone pipeline, the administration should face down critics of the project, ensure that environmental standards are met and then approve it. As Nature has suggested before (see Nature 477, 249; 2011), the pipeline is not going to determine whether the Canadian tar sands are developed or not. Only a broader — and much more important — shift in energy policy will do that. Nor is oil produced from the Canadian tar sands as dirty from a climate perspective as many believe…” (Nature editorial, January, 2013)

Americans overwhelmingly support building the pipeline

As API’s Cindy Shield put it today, if the President truly wants to lead, “way to lead is to follow what your Americans, what your constituents are saying” – and Americas overwhelmingly support Keystone XL.  As a new poll conducted by Harris Interactive reveals, 85 percent of Americans agree that Keystone XL would help strengthen America’s economic security; 81 percent of say that Keystone XL would help strengthen America’s energy security.  Then there are dozens of newspaper editorial boards from communities across the country that have called on President Obama to approve the pipeline.  Even some of the most unlikely sourcesWashington Post editorial board, Nature magazine, USA Today, and Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson – have written to urge the pipeline’s approval. Union and trade groups including the AFL-CIO, the Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and the International Union of Operating Engineers also support the construction of Keystone XL.

It’s time for President Obama to approve Keystone XL.



newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Bill Jamison

That’s the perfect thing for the president to say. That way he can approve it and say it’s only because it won’t increase GHGs. He will please the people that support the pipeline and placate the people concerned about climate change that are on the fence about the pipeline. Classic political statement.

Kurt in Switzerland

Watch for head explosions from McKibben, Hansen and Romm.
Kurt in Switzerland

Les Johnson

Not to mention that Obama explicitly said that the State Department should only approve KXL as long as it does not ” significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution (sic).”
The state department has already said that.
The NETL study serves as a
key input for analyses conducted by EPA and DOE.
In comparison, a study conducted by TIAX, LLC,
found that the greenhouse gas emissions from
gasoline produced from Canadian oil sands crude are
only 2 percent higher when compared to gasoline
from Venezuelan heavy crude, a type of crude oil that
is similar to the crude oil that would be transported by
the proposed Project and is currently refined in large
quantities by Gulf Coast refineries.

While it could be argued that 2% is or is not significant, it can’t be argued that shipping by rail, as is now done, means the pipeline will reduce NET emissions.


It doesn’t matter if the pipeline is approved or not. He’s going to end up taxing energy right out of affordability for all but the 1% crowd. The rest of us poor slobs are headed for peon serfdom straight out of the middle ages.


Thank you for following up on this story Anthony. However, no one up here in Alberta had any illusions Obama, or his administration had any intention of approving the XL pipeline. Green madness is the rule south of the border with Canada. That was entirely expected. As was Obama’s war on coal. Y’all elected the guy – lol!

No more worries about migrating antelope or aquifers. Has carbon devoured the greens completely?


As I thought this morning, the whole climate change thingie was cover for approving Keystone XL. Not a bad plan really, if we convert a bunch of interstate trucks to LNG along the way as the “climate change” fix.

Ian E

As a UK resident, I am seriously starting to think about celebrating July 4th – just think, if you lot hadn’t rebelled, Barry might have made it to being our Prime Minister. {Mind you, we did have Blair, Brown, and now Cameron, so not that much to celebrate in truth.}


Obama himself isn’t “carbon neutral”–he spews CO2 with each breath and statement.
Maybe he shouldn’t be approved unless made “carbon neutral”.
That I’d like to see.


It’s not like this oil isn’t already going into the US. It is just going in via train now, so a pipeline will certainly be a more efficient method of delivery.


jeanparisot says:
June 25, 2013 at 12:35 pm

No more worries about migrating antelope or aquifers. Has carbon devoured the greens completely?

The worship CO2 because it’s so transparent. Nothing else about them is.

Just a heads up but the National Research Council also released a report today called Effects of US Tax Policy on Greenhouse Gas Emissions. It says Congress appropriated the funds for the study in 2010. Except there was no budget passed. Anyway, it is about recs to amend the tax code to combat GHGs.


Another point is that the US is a lot closer to Canada than China is.
It takes energy to ship oil. Shipping the oil to China by boat, rather than by pipeline to the US will mean a big increase in CO2 production.

Follow the Money

“carbon neutral”, meaning, pay off some of my nuke, forestry, big Agro and other cronies. O is no dummy.


He could offset the emissions of the entire Keystone Pipeline project by cancelling his next trip. $100-million buys an awful lot of carbon offsets at a nickel a ton. Just sayin’.


“We don’t have time for a meeting of the flat-earth society.”

….I guess he means us?

I suspect the pipeline to refineries in New Brunswick and Montreal will be working years before XL is approved, if ever. Other options are becoming more available everyday. It will be a struggle because of NIMBY, but until a a major change in attitude changes and energy shortages start hitting the US, I wouldn’t invest a dime in Keystone. The pipeline companies are already working on options.


Not so sure. This President seldom misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity to help average Americans. Nearly every choice he imposes on us leads to a larger richer governing class at the expense of workers, enriches his pals and diminishes our national wealth.


I must have been so wrapped up in this that I totally missed the part where they were solving real problems….


And oil going by rail means a better share price for Berkshire-Hathaway and more money in the pocket of Barack’s best pal, Warren Buffet.


Oh, it will be approved.
The appeasement of the eco-lobby is the only sticking point.
Squeaky wheel gets the grease (or would that be green ).
Nothing like money to sooth an organizations heart, it always was about the children after all, wasn’t it ??

Alan Clark, paid shill for Big Oil

There simply is zero incentive for Obama (or any American really) to approve the KXL line. The current restrictions in pipeline access have Albertans selling oil at a discount to our American customers. The discount has ranged at between $10 per barrel to over $30 per barrel over the past year. This discount saves Americans and costs Albertans ~$6 billion a year. Once KXL is built, this discount will disappear. Why on earth would America build KXL? If the situation were reversed, do you think Albertans would build it?


Well he said in his speech that it will only be approved if it benefits the country. Does this guy even realize where the funding for all of his green projects is generated?

Rhoda R

RT – I don’t believe that he does. This is a man who has never had to couple actions with consequences. I do believe that he lives in a magical world.


Everything about Keystone is a demonstration of how special interests and misinformation are destructive.
As I understand it, Keystone wasn’t even on anyone’s radar. It went through the established steps required, had approval on every level, and was just a given until some dimwitted zero got his fingers into it for purely political reasons. Suddenly it’s going to “destroy the planet”.
The level of misinformation is breathtaking, and if anything it has demonstrated that radical environmentalists are incapable of rational thought.
The concept of meddling with another country’s ability to develop their natural resources is horrid, and the precedent being set here is even more horrid. We are developing the Oilsands, it would be irresponsible not to.

Gunga Din

War on Coal has been declared. Who knew pipelines could pump coal?

Gunga Din

If it pumped ketchup Kerry would be all for it.
REPLY: Heinzsight is 20/20 – Anthony


…anyone keeping up with the record cold in the Arctic
it’s breaking all records

“Carbon neutral” has no meaning therefore things really haven’t changed. Obama can do whatever he wishes as politics dictates. He can kill it without having to do so explicitly or he can approve it. Saying the project must be “carbon neutral” before it can proceed is exactly the same as saying it can move forward if God wills it. There is essentially no logical content in such a statement.

Gunga Din

REPLY: Heinzsight is 20/20 – Anthony


If he really cared about CO2 emissions he would ground Air Force 1 and not go to Africa while spending 100 Million dollars on the trip.


REPLY: Heinzsight is 20/20 – Anthony
Made me laugh. Good one.

Hey… Don’t pick on John Kerry…. He was in Veitnam!

Unite Against Greenfleecing

It’s time to stop producing ketchup, the carbon foot print of this non essential item is simply not worth it.
Save the planet, boycott ketchup now.

Ralph Short

Our current President seems to ignore science while acting as a mouthpiece (or puppet) for certain parts of the democrat party base. The lack of objectivity, balance and the resulting caution in policy making is a tragedy in my opinion.

By the “carbon neutral” standard no person should be born, no business should be started, no trips should be taken. In effect, Obama is asserting that the external cost of a marginal increment of Co2 (the environmental costs not reflected in prices) is infinite. Nothing must occur, no matter how valuable, that raises Co2 at all, no matter how little. This is the logical limit of environmental extremism. Applied generally it would mean the extermination of mankind, yet Obama presents it as a modest criterion. Totalitarian fanaticism in glib shucksy garb.

Jim Strom

Alan Clark:
“The current restrictions in pipeline access have Albertans selling oil at a discount to our American customers. The discount has ranged at between $10 per barrel to over $30 per barrel over the past year.” What’s the market reason for this discount? Intuitively I would have thought that when Canada can ship in greater quantity, the price would come down.

Kevin Kilty

Gunga Din says:
June 25, 2013 at 2:36 pm
War on Coal has been declared. Who knew pipelines could pump coal?

Slurry pipeline. Seriously.

Robert of Ottawa

That’s easy. Whether the pipeline is built or not, the Canadian oil will be burnt, therefore it will not lead to a net increase in CO2.

The issue is CO2. CO2 is 72% oxygen. It is more correct (though equally wrong) to call it oxygen pollution as it is to call it carbon pollution. Please feel free to correct all of your friends, etc. in this regard. If someone talks about “carbon” pollution, let them know it is more correct to call it “oxygen” pollution. The math is as follows. Molecular weight of carbon is 12. Oxygen’s is 16 there are two oxygen and one carbon in CO2. Total molecular weight of CO2 is 12 + (2 X 16) = 44 of which 32 is oxygen, so 32/44=72% (well 72.7 but math is hard).

John Tofflemire

Jim Strom:
It’s all about how trade crates value. In trade, products or commodities are moved from a point where they are cheap to a point where they are dear. Few refineries in the mid-west can presently process the high wax, high sulfur Alberta tar sands oil. Thus there is a relative glut of Alberta oil in the US midwest. This oil will become dear when it can reach those Gulf Coast refiners with the ability to refine this oil. The Gulf Coast refiners have a long experience refining high wax, high sulfur oil from Mexico and Venezuela, oil that is, in many cases, dirtier than the product shipped to refiners from Alberta. Once the oil gets to the Gulf Coast then the product has access to global markets and it will be priced accordingly.


John Eggert says:
June 25, 2013 at 4:02 pm
The issue is CO2. CO2 is 72% oxygen. It is more correct (though equally wrong) to call it oxygen pollution as it is to call it carbon pollution.
Not if you are actually talking about black carbon/particulates but wish to leave the impression that you were talking about CO2.


Keystone is really a sticky distracting Tar Baby for BOTH sides. The Left has realized that preventing it won’t prevent oil production. Now the Right needs to realize that building it won’t help America in any meaningful way. After all, it was never intended to bring oil to America; it’s intended to export the oil.

Alan Clark, paid shill for Big Oil

Jim Strom:
The pipeline space from Canada is limited by the availability of space into Chicago and Kushing. On both of these routes, Alberta oil has been displaced by the massive quantities now coming out of North Dakota who have gone from near zero production to nearly 700k bbls/day. Alberta can only sell oil at a discount to North Dakota oil if we want to compete for pipeline space. If the KXL were built, as John Tofflemire stated, Alberta’s oil could then reach Texas ports where it could be exported and therefore, would bring a higher price. The alternative is a line across the Rockies to British Columbia and export to Asia.

Dr. Bob

The whole idea that the pipeline be carbon neutral shows the lack of understanding of the situation they are trying to address. A good Life Cycle Assessment of alternatives for use of Canadian Oil Sands would show that building the pipeline and utilizing the feedstock in NA refineries is a far better situation than transporting the crude to China via ship. One has to account for all the CO2 emissions for moving the crude from source to end use as well as the emissions from refining the fuel and combusting it in vehicles. In the case of Canadian oil sands, the crude will get used by someone somewhere. So why not minimize the impact and use pipelines to move it instead of ships. Transportation emissions would be cut by 90+%, and the crude would be processed in the most modern refineries meeting the strictest emissions standards in the world. Send it to China and it will be processed less efficiently and with higher emissions. Therefore, the only logical choice is to build the pipeline to minimize emissions of all types.


polistra, it was intended to bring crude to Southeast refineries.
I have no idea what you are talking about there, but it’s incorrect. The crude is to be exported, FROM Canada. Are you suggesting the goal was then to export from the US?

polistra says:

June 25, 2013 at 4:59 pm
Keystone is really a sticky distracting Tar Baby for BOTH sides. The Left has realized that preventing it won’t prevent oil production. Now the Right needs to realize that building it won’t help America in any meaningful way. After all, it was never intended to bring oil to America; it’s intended to export the oil.

No, it will be used for our country. The refineries can already refine that oil directly and since the same machinery (with just some tweaks to the existing machines) will be used for Canadian oil and/or for Venezuela oil we will start reducing our import of that particular bunch of oil. Its simple economics when you think about it. We pipe it to Texas where all the refineries are that currently accept the oil from South America are located. Since this oil is going to be about 5 cents cheaper (due to lower costs of pipeline oil AND the fact that Canada is not a member of OPEC and sells it for less than what they set the prices at), the refineries that do start using this oil will outperform those that stick with the Venezuelan oil. It would be absolutely nuts for the oil companies to not take advantage of the pipeline and refine it right there in Texas.
Now think about that so more. Canada is not in OPEC. OPEC suffers if oil demand is decreased (no matter where the oil ends up.) therefore the interests that are against this are OPEC nations which includes Venezuela. Just to compete against Canadian oil, Venezuela will therefore be forced to lower its price of oil just to be competitive which means VERY big bucks on the global scale. If you have to set your prices higher just to compete, your oil monopoly has both lost bargaining power AND is making less money.
So you might be right that this is a tar-baby for the people who are against this. But those are for it are for it because it is beneficial to America to have a higher supply of oil, which decreases our energy costs which means people can buy more with their money. OPEC and idiots are against this because OPEC as a rule is not interested in what is best for Americans. And the idiots (otherwise know as greens) honestly believe that if this passes the world will burn in a fiery holocaust. They are simply delusional and so their interests also do not lie with the American peoples interests. But I will make this prediction: Obama can find no good reason to cancel it and so he will stall,stall,stall until the time does come that he is either no longer president or that he can trade this deal for something else. A true political schemer, he does not do anything without some benefit to himself for said action.
Now the big 1 billion dollar questions: Is Obama doing the interests of OPEC ahead of the US? And are greens nothing but proxies for big oil?
That last one is kind of ironic when you think about it.

“Paid Shill” says that if the Keystone pipeline is built:

Alberta’s oil could then reach Texas ports where it could be exported and therefore, would bring a higher price.

Except that it would increase the world supply of oil, lowering the world oil price.
It is true that lowered transportation costs would increase the net price the Canadians receive for selling their tar-sands oil at the world market price for that grade of oil. Shill sees this as a bad thing? Not only does Canada benefit, but so do we. By providing a cheaper form of transportation the domestically owned U.S. pipeline would both increase the size of the economic pie and grab a bigger share of it for U.S. businesses.
That and the world price of oil would fall a bit. The only possible negative is in the minds of the eco-fruitcakes who believe that Co2 is dangerous. Is that Paid Shill’s actual position?


Just wondering, are the Oilsands competitive with fractured oil?
I know it’s sold at a discount in Cushing, but can that discount be recovered via an alternate route to XL?


Facts about emissions do not matter to Obama and neither do any prior reports on Keystone by the state department. The tyrant Obama is signalling to his administration and to his followers that Keystone is not to be approved.
Personally I would like to see Canada shut off all oil to the US and sell it instead to China at market rates. Let the Us get their oil at full market cost from Obama’s Muslim brotherhood allies. he is already giving them arms so why not pay for all their arms too.