Prediction: Obama Will Axe the Keystone XL Pipeline

I have a good feeling that U.S. President Obama will axe the Keystone XL Pipeline.  My reasoning has nothing to do with the noise that environmentalists are making, though I’m not discounting that effect altogether.  I’m thinking that none of the other things he seems to want to get accomplished currently (having passed the Affordable Care Act) have any chance of happening. Congress shot gun control dead and said “adios” to immigration reform.  What about a grand bargain?  Are you serious?  

Nixing the pipeline is something Obama can actually make happen. From what I can see, he’s unimpressed with the job-creation numbers (it’s only a few dozen after the project is in place), and he doesn’t believe (nor do I) that there is solid logic and moral justification behind the idea that we should go ahead with the plan because the environmental devastation associated with all that dirty oil is going to happen whether we’re involved in it or not.  Kids can buy drugs whether I sell them or not, but that doesn’t justify my selling them.

Killing the pipeline will enable Obama to take the moral high ground, and show that the largest economy on Earth is proactively weaning itself off fossil fuels.  In turn, this could set the stage for an international agreement on the subject – something that looked impossible a few years ago.

Doesn’t there simply have to be a decent denouement to the presidency of this guy, whom we ushered into office with such gusto in 2008?

If he pulls this off, I’ll try my best to forgive his inexplicable behavior on Guantanamo Bay, the fascist National Defense Authorization Act, drone warfare, the rabid prosecution of whistle-blowers – each one by itself jaw-dropping — things of which no one ever dreamed him capable when we elected him.

This would be the most stunning victory for a world leader in a very long time — arguably in all human history.  Astonishingly, Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize.  Now he can earn it.

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14 comments on “Prediction: Obama Will Axe the Keystone XL Pipeline
  1. bigvid says:

    I certainly hope so because we don’t need more or bigger leaks like this:

  2. Glenn Doty says:

    We disagree here Craig, on almost every point.

    First, Obama reversed the fastest contraction in U.S. history. Note that the Great Recession was not nearly as bad as the Great depression, but the 4th quarter of 2008 saw a much greater contraction than 1929. Had we had a more lazzez faire government, we would not have stopped the bleeding as quickly.

    Second, Obama passed the affordable care act – “Obamacare”, and this will be remembered as one of the greatest steps forward in U.S. history for the middle class.

    Between the two, and radical steps forward on gay rights, and a four-year successful reduction in emissions during an economic expansion, and the fastest-ever deficit reduction over four years, and an economic expansion during a time when the rest of the industrialized world has been in recession… and dozens of smaller scale steps forward…, I doubt Obama is worried about his legacy. Regardless of whether the radicals on the right or on the left choose to give him his due, he’s already cemented himself as one of the top 10 presidents of U.S. history.

    But I also disagree with your prediction. Obama has never really shown interest in making empty gestures. If there’s no benefit to the environment from taking a stance (rejecting the Keystone will not reduce the amount of tar-sands oil that is extracted, refined, and sold), but would only serve to lose money from the American economy… then there’s no reason to take that stance. There was a political necessity of taking the stance he has – which is delay… because the radical left wants empty gestures and would have punished Obama – and by extension the democratic party – for not making an empty gesture… But I suspect that Obama will sign the Keystone authorization in the lame duck session following the next election that the democrats take the house (either December of 2014 or December of 2016)… He won’t want to pass that headache on to Hillary, and he certainly won’t want it to be in play if a republican is elected president (rejecting it does not take it out of play, if Marco Rubio is elected in 2020, he’ll secure a pipeline, and be credited for helping the economy while doing no net harm to the environment)..

    • We don’t disagree on most of what you’ve written here. I agree that Obama’s passing the ACA was a monumental accomplishment (though that wasn’t clear in the version on which you commented). And anyone, regardless of his stance on people’s rights to healthcare, should be impressed with the fact that the economic collapse has been (at least temporarily) reverted.

  3. geopark says:


    With all due respect, what is the point of this post? If I understand the intent of your site correctly it is marry personal investment with environmental responsibility which I believe it is a laudable aim.

    I have no strong opinion about the pipeline although I believe until we have replaced fossil fuels as a primary energy source it is irresponsible to limit access to the former.


  4. Greg Chick says:

    Oil has passed it’s over usefulness, as a world fighting dominating substance anyway. To throw a totally working Solar System off the white house as Ronald Reagan did, was a social statement costing the industry a couple decades. Someone paid him to do that, as someone has paid for the tax incentives of over 25 billion yearly to the fossil fuel industry.
    Obama is not a crook or the liar his opponents say he is, he believes he is a good man as does Rush limbaugh and the other radio jerks that spin the USA dizzy. Obama is very good at his speeches as well as his demeanor. I watched with joy and respect for him last week sa he did a 1.5 hr. press release on the shut down. I do not know of one “N#$%” hatter that watched it, they instead listen to radio jerks make total lies of the actual words said… I asked why they did not listen, they replied “why listen to hr of lies” I replied, better to listen to even more hours of a second hand take of his “lies”, because that makes you mad and that is what drives the R party”…. The extreme right who hates him likes the lies about him so they have a reason to hate… The oil industry is feeding this hate, I call that dirty fuel, wether or not Climate change is caused by man…..That argument need not even exist.
    Greg Chick, Tree hugger, left Coast wing nut, and all around happy guy…

    • geopark says:

      Hello Greg,

      Took a quick look at your name link and it looks like we have a lot in common. Love music (esp jazz) and I lived in the San Diego area for some years (Ramona seemed special, no doubt).

      I appreciate your post but would ask you a few simple rhetorical questions which I continually ask myself . . do i need fossil fuels for my transportation, can I feed myself without fossil fuels used to transport my foodstuffs, what can I do to reduce/eliminate the need for fossil fuels in my life?

      All the best,


      • I realize that some posters here believe that small steps taken by individual citizens to mitigate climate change do not really matter. But I do not agree. Ordinary citizens today can avail themselves of biodiesel & ethanol derived from purpose-grown or local waste products, local organic foods, rooftop solar with storage, rain catchment systems, high efficiency home construction, electric vehicles of 4, 3 and 2 wheels and a host of other solutions that reduce or eliminate the use of fossil fuels. Nixing the XL pipeline would certainly not be an “empty gesture”, it would be one of the most powerful gestures imaginable to advance the cause of clean energy. It would be the proverbial “shot heard ’round the world”. Like individuals, our country has to take every opportunity to stop this runaway fossil fuel train- both symbolic and actual.

  5. Benjamin says:

    Re: “Nixing the pipeline is something Obama can actually make happen. From what I can see, he’s unimpressed with the job-creation numbers (it’s only a few dozen after the project is in place)…”

    Although I agree with you in principle, this somehow sounds to me like saying that temporary jobs aren’t valuable to our current job shortage just because they will not last forever?

  6. Roy Wagner says:

    Just think for a moment about oil pipelines—- Have they leaked in the past?
    Has the industry a great record in safety and their ability to clean up a mess once made?What are the chances of one of the longest pipelines ever to be built leaking somewhere sometime? (The oil in this pipeline is of course some of the nastiest kind of oil.)
    Is 35 jobs and making a Canadian a Billionaire worth the potential risks?
    So a few Oil barons in Texas can make a few more bucks?
    Why don’t they just build a refinery in Canada and sell us the Oil?

  7. If he does refuse the pipeline, it will be a more than a symbolic gesture, but even a symbolic gesture would be notable. Considering that his “all of the above” energy policy led to the continuance of billions in filthy fossil subsidies, and quite a limited focus on renewables by his administration within the view of the public eye, the death of the XL will at least be a bone tossed to those of us who hope for a more rational energy future harvesting modern sunlight (instead of digging the prehistoric carbon sun from the earth and spewing it into our modern skies). So many of his policies have carried us further in the same direction as his regrettable predecessor, particularly with regard to remote control warfare and the opacity of “public servants” – still, I can only imagine where this nation might be had his opponent taken office instead.

  8. David Behn says:

    As a Canadian follower of this blog, let me make some pertinent comments:
    On July 6 this year a train carrying “crude” from North Dakota’s Bakken fields derailed, literally in front of the town of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, causing an explosion and fire that killed 47 people and destroyed much of the center of the town. Crude isn’t supposed to do that. It turns out the product was mislabelled.
    Hazardous substances are required to be labelled as to hazard level, that is, packing level 3 (most hazardous), packing level 2, or packing level 1 (least hazardous), and any other pertinent information to be noted. According to lead investigator Don Ross, the material was originally categorized level 2 for road transport but then inexplicably downgraded to level 1 for rail transport. The result was that handling precautions pertinent to level 1 were followed, and then only minimally. That also meant that after the accident first responders came expecting to deal with a level 1 disaster, and were not prepared for what they were ultimately met with.
    Again, according to investigators, the material was tested and found to have “the characteristics of a packing group 2 flammable liquid”, and behaved much like gasoline (which would be classified in packing group 2).
    Three months later, the accident is still under investigation, and the train has not been moved.
    We can no longer depend on our pipelines (or railroad cars) containing crude; in fact, we can no longer depend on knowing, or being told, exactly what is in it, or having the necessary information available for dealing with it. In the case of Lac-Megantic, it is probably shale oil mixed with fracking fluids, with maybe benzene and/or naptha as well. In the XL pipeline, it will be “dilbit”, a mixture of bitumen mixed with a diluent, which can be any number of chemicals, including natural gas byproduct, naptha, and benzene. In the case of the Northern Gateway pipeline project, the east-west line will contain dilbit, and the west-east leg will contain diluent. The supertankers that will be plying the treacherous waters around Vancouver Island could contain either.
    Our government, headed by Stephen Harper, is concentrating on maximizing production, which precludes spending on refineries.
    Here is Green Party leader Elizabeth May’s take on it:
    “Insisting on further processing before leaving Alberta is the sensible policy…investing in ancillary infrastructure for the upgraders and refineries will not be possible so long as the oil sands are in constant expansion mode. The hyper-inflationary conditions created by an ever-growing number of oilsands mines, driving up daily production, trying to triple it to 6 million barrels a day (Stephen Harper’s goal) is inconsistent with sound management of the enterprise…”
    If Obama kills the pipeline, he will not only be doing the best thing for the U.S.; he will be doing the best thing for Canada as well.

  9. Barry says:

    The comments have been a good education for me, even though some have strayed off topic. The thing that stayed with me the most was the comment about Reagan's taking Carter's solar down off the White House and how it pushed back the solar industry @ 20 years. I think the approval of the XL could do the same, so I hope you're right Craig that he does step up and do the right thing.

  10. Pierre Ducharme says:

    I’m not an oil man, nor an oil fan. I’m not a tree huger either, just a pragmatist.

    Last year, for the first year in a very long time, the U.S. was a net exporter of oil. In several states, traditional usages for oil are displaced by cheap natural gas from, you guessed it, the U.S.

    One does not have to be a great energy specialist to see that what the U.S. Gouvernement is doing what it does best: it is simply protecting U.S. interests in spite of free trade treaties and agreements. And again, environmentalist are being manipulating in helping those they claim to be fighting.

    Obama is not an angel, he’s a politician. Don’t expect a cat to bark!

    • Wow, that’s very insightful, Pierre, thanks. You’re completely correct about Obama. The underlying issue is that our “leaders” aren’t really leaders at all; they’re just people who tell us what we want to hear.

      The problem here is that a few decades down the line our civilization is going to decay into a holy mess, if we continue to rely on fossil fuels. We either come together and make a change (which doesn’t seem too likely), or we suffer unimaginably.

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