Did Obama’s Keystone XL Decision Prevent A Potential Environmental Disaster?

There are myriad methods of defining intelligence depending on circumstance and knowledge, but it is safe to say that at the most basic level, learning from other’s prior errant actions and avoiding repeating them is at least smart. It is not often that in a short time span, an entire country witnesses a leader avoid repeating their predecessor’s mistakes, but Americans saw firsthand how President Obama identified Republican’s errors and possibly prevented a devastating environmental disaster.

The Keystone XL pipeline that Republicans forced the president to decide on within a two month timetable demonstrates their willingness to give a foreign oil company carte blanche to use American territory to send crude oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast without regard for the environment. It was nearly two years ago that another foreign-owned oil company caused the worst environmental disaster in American history because regulations governing safety procedures were left up to the oil industry to enforce. The similarities between the BP-Deepwater Horizon oil spill and a potentially devastating oil spill in America’s heartland are striking except for one fact; President Barack Obama.

The President’s denial of a permit to give the foreign oil company, TransCanada, the right to build a 36-inch, approximately 1,661-mile-long crude oil pipeline is already being criticized by Republicans. They contend the pipeline will employ tens-of-thousands of workers and reduce oil dependency here in the U.S., but as is usually the case with anything Republicans claim; they lie. Estimates are anywhere from hundreds to 6,000 jobs, but the true figure is probably closer to 2,000 jobs to build the pipeline. Republicans also conveniently omit that TransCanada, a foreign company, will certainly use their own construction specialists to build the pipeline and that they will not be at the local unemployment office recruiting Americans except for minimum wage manual labor jobs.

Speaker of the House John Boehner’s spokesman assailed the President’s decision and claimed it killed “tens-of-thousands of jobs,” but there is a good reason Boehner is so rabid to provide a foreign oil company with revenue. According to Boehner’s financial disclosure forms from December 2010, he invested $10,000 to $50,000 each in seven firms that had a stake in Canada’s oil sands. Boehner’s push to grant TransCanada a permit is certainly a conflict of interest that the House Oversight Committee should investigate, but the Republican chairman and convicted felon, Darrel Issa, is hardly going to investigate his boss. However, don’t expect the corporate media to expose Boehner’s conflict of interest anytime soon.

Willard Romney and the rest of the Republican presidential hopefuls assailed Obama’s decision as irresponsible and caving to environmentalists instead of creating jobs. However, every one of the Republicans oppose President Obama’s job creation plans; their interest in creating jobs is only if they enrich a foreign oil company.  Republicans also fail to admit that the oil belongs to Canada and that the refined oil is for export on the foreign market; not America. In fact, the main beneficiary of the tar-sands crude oil is Valero and they already have an export strategy as part of the Free Trade Zone that allows them to avoid paying U.S. taxes on their profits.

Disregarding the facts of Republicans profiting from giving a foreign oil company permission to use America as an overland route for their oil and avoiding paying taxes, or that jobs are not an issue, leaves the potential for environmental disaster in a major crop-producing region of the country as the biggest threat to America’s security. It is crucial to remember that BP representatives overruled safety concerns about the oil well and the result was eleven men killed and 4.9 million barrels of crude oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico. When President Obama sought to hold BP responsible for the biggest petroleum industry disaster in history, Republicans apologized to foreign-owned BP.

President Obama’s decision to deny TransCanada permission to ship their oil to Texas refineries for export on the foreign market was the only decision he could make considering the circumstances and prior mistakes by Republicans anxious to give another foreign oil company tax-free profits. The State Department and Environmental Protection agency had to conduct security and environmental impact studies before the pipeline got the go-ahead, but Republicans sought to circumvent the law and their oil industry lobbies spent millions to push the pipeline’s quick permission. Apparently, the Republicans forgot that just under two years ago, BP caused a record disaster by pushing ahead regardless of safety concerns. However, President Obama did not forget and he was gracious in allowing TransCanada to submit another proposal that avoids a crucial food-producing region, and despite their threat to sell their oil to China, they are already reassessing different routes for their pipeline. However, Canada’s oil was always meant for foreign export so their threat was to frighten ignorant Americans; not President Obama.

Americans should be grateful that President Obama did not make the same errors as Bush-Republicans  by allowing the oil industry to avoid federal laws and safety regulations just to boost their profits. The President is intelligent, but his wisdom is most evident in protecting a crucial agricultural region and precious groundwater. The Republicans will make wild claims based on lies and misinformation, but they are protecting oil industry profits and in Speaker Boehner’s case, his Canadian oil investments. Most of all, the President is following federal law and that may be what irks Republicans most. If Americans have learned anything from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, it is that foreign oil companies will subvert the rules and regulations to boost their already obscene profits with the help of profit-motivated Republicans. President Obama may have prevented a repeat of the BP oil disaster, except that this time instead of polluting the Gulf Coast, TransCanada would decimate precious groundwater and crucial agricultural resources in America’s heartland.

11 Replies to “Did Obama’s Keystone XL Decision Prevent A Potential Environmental Disaster?”

  1. It’s going to be MUCH more difficult for TransCanada to build a pipeline through the Rockies over to Kitimat, BC, largely because it would travel through properties owned by several different First Nations groups, who are all (but one) dead set against it. There are mucho environmentalists up here who are vigorously protesting the proposed pipeline and will continue to do so. And since BC is an earthquake zone, that only adds fuel to their protests.

    As you say, the GOP didn’t do themselves any favours by attaching a two-month condition to that bill. Everyone (but them?) knew there was no way TransCanada nor the State Dept could possibly make any decisions on a new route to avoid the aquifer. Which makes me wonder — are the GOP really, really that stupid? Or is there another plan we don’t yet know about? (Shudder)

    I wish the media would emphasize the fact that the only folks who would benefit from Keystone are the oil companies. And even TransCanada says the number of jobs amounts to several hundreds, not thousands….

  2. To your title question, Rmuse: yes.

    A pipeline constructed of defective Chinese steel that crosses the Ogallala aquifer is simply nuts.

  3. speaker Boehner has claimed that it was 100,000 jobs that was lost because of the president’s decision. no matter how many jobs it was it was lost because of speaker Boehner forcing the president to make a decision on something that should not have been in a spending bill. It’s the stupidity of the GOP that keeps biting them in a butt. They are constantly doing stupid things such as trying to force the government to default on past bills. I hope he loses his shirt. I also hope he has to step down for investing in this and then pushing it so hard.

    I am sure the president spoke to Canada before he made his decision. We have the GOP saying that Canada will sell its oil to China instead. That’s fine but is still want affect the amount of oil they send to us. In all this is is a chance for the oil companies to send oil to Texas for refining and then sell overseas. I wonder what dear Sarah Palin has to say about that.

    I don’t know if the pipeline would’ve been a disaster. Anything that handles loyal is a disaster waiting to happen. The Alaskan pipeline has a pretty darn good record. however Canada is turning its own country into a horror scene from Mordor. They are tearing their land up and killing everything to get to the oil. That’s where the economic And environmental disaster is

  4. I might actually be one of the few people who would benefit for a while if the pipeline went through (because of my skills and training), but I am glad that it was stopped, even though it means I continue being unemployed and underemployed.

  5. As usual they are LYING! Trans Canada=Koch http://bit.ly/wQHBFY
    And very few permanent jobs could actually kill more jobs than it creates…according to this study:
    http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/globallaborinstitute/research/Keystonexl.html
    Yet palin yappin’ and the peezoo yappin like Chihuahua’s on meth, what a huge mistake this is and Boner too. Yea mistake for his pocket book.
    We must emphasis in Nov when Obama wins we want GREEN energy. No more drilling not my fossil, fracking, fuels! Here comes the Sun!
    Great post rmuse.8)

  6. I think TransCanada was trying to avoid having to change the route. Apparently the proposed route is the cheapest. Nebraska had refused to go along for the obvious environmental threats. TransCanada made threats of not doing it at all if Nebraska didn’t cave. When Nebraska refused, TransCanada allowed as how maybe they could change the route. Then suddenly some members of Congress were pushing this quick decision. I have my suspicions as to what was going on there. Now that Mr. Obama has not caved, I suspect TransCanada will manage to propose another route.

    I suspect the proposed BC route will also eventually be changed because the First Nations and environmentalists are going to fight to the death over that one. Kitimet sits at the head of a long, narrow fjord. Surrounding the fjord is numerous wilderness preserves. The area is pristine wilderness, the passage is fairly narrow and threads around islands. Its a major spill waiting to happen.

  7. Of course when I open up my Local Newspaper they Trashed Obama for “playing politics” with this Pipeline story. “rolling eyes”.

  8. Thanks Rmuse for doing the job the main stream media should be doing! Of course, it’s a setup for the GOP to blame the President for a lie while the President is protecting the country in not making a hasty decision without all the facts. President Obama saved us from falling off a cliff when the GOP was pushing us there. America has great memory loss. They forget Bush, Cheney, and the rest of the usual suspects. They forget the great Gulf Oil disaster that killed people. They forget the coal mining disaster. They keep talking about deregulations preventing jobs. They send jobs overseas so that their pockets are fatter. Greed has taken over America with globalization. Our problems have solutions. Those in power have to want something for the country and the people and not just themselves. Until then, I’m with President Obama!

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