So, I got out my maps to see just where Cushing was in the big scheme of things.
See the solid line in Phase one? That's the Keystone pipeline. The one that has already been built. The one that George W. Bush's State Department issued a Presidential Permit on March 17, 2008, "authorizing the construction, maintenance and operation of facilities at the United States and Canada border". The pipeline that crosses six states and three Canadian provinces. The pipeline that was completed in June of 2010. Eighteen hundred and fifty three miles long. That Keystone pipeline!
In all the talk about the Keystone XL pipeline, the one that will double or triple the amount of oil carried from Canada to the US, plus delivering domestic oil to Gulf refineries, do you remember anyone mentioning the first pipeline, the one that was already built? Hear any big stories about the environmental catastrophes that the first phase of the Keystone project has caused in the last two years? Me neither.
TransCanada has a great interactive map here. It shows Phase 2 of the pipeline from Steele City to Cushing, which was constructed and put into service last year, in February of 2011. Nearly three hundred miles of pipe there, minding its own business for about a year now. Anybody want to step up and tell us about the great environmental disasters caused by this brand new stretch of pipe over the last year? Beuller? Beuller??
After fighting the expansion of the Keystone XL pipeline, Obama now says he wants to "fast track" permits for the third phase, from Cushing, Oklahoma to the Gulf. I sincerely hope his photo op speech includes the number of jobs he'll want to take credit for on this stretch of pipeline, because the Keystone XL pipeline he is obstructing stretches three times as far, so, would provide three times again as many construction jobs (or three times again the duration of those jobs), not to mention the number of jobs that would be created by the doubling or tripling of oil delivered per day, and giving an outlet to 18 billion barrels of American oil reserves in the Bakken fields of North Dakota and Montana.
A pipeline through the Bakken oil fields would go a long way towards meeting Obama's professed goal of energy independence. It would be a serious step towards ensuring for America the supply of oil, the energy of the present, the energy that fuels this economy. Serious in a way that Dreams of My Father's Algae will not nor could not accomplish in this century.
One pipeline, vetted and permitted in the last year of the Bush administration, constructed and put into service with no problem. Another pipeline, proposed by the same company, meeting the same standards, covering three fewer states and one less province, but proposed during a presidential administration that is openly hostile to petroleum exploration and production, one that is held captive by environmentalists and is fearful of upsetting its base, in what promises to be an uphill struggle for re-election. This pipeline falls victim to politics, plain and simple.
It will be good to have the Cushing/Gulf pipeline fast tracked, but that end of the project really didn't need presidential intervention. Getting the XL pipeline permitted across the US/Canadian border requires the approval of Obama's State Department and the political will to do what is right for the country. If President Obama were truly serious about all the empty platitudes he will undoubtedly utter in Cushing, Oklahoma, Obama would be making this speech on the other end of the pipeline, to cheering crowds rather than mute, empty pipes.
Cross posted at Proof Positive