Liberals Still Not Giving Up on Keystone

Gail Collins has a column on the Keystone Pipeline in today’s New York Times. It illustrates why so many consider the Times to be the last redoubt of the ignorant.

Collins begins by complaining that Republicans, victorious in last week’s election, keep mentioning approval of Keystone as something the new Congress will do. Which is bad because…well, she never says. Republicans talk about Keystone because it is low-hanging fruit, something that is obviously good public policy.

Ironically, Collins doesn’t even pretend that building Keystone would be bad for the environment. On the contrary, she admits that it wouldn’t be:

If the pipeline isn’t built, the oil will still get to the refineries by train, but at least we wouldn’t appear to be encouraging the energy industry to drill the worst stuff possible.

So the environmental benefit of not building the pipeline is zero. Actually, it is negative: pipelines are a much safer mode of transport than trains, a fact that Collins fails to mention. So really, her opposition to the pipeline is just perverse.

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Collins exposes the real reason she hates the pipeline with this nugget of ignorance:

The only people who would seem to have an intense practical interest in which way this plays out would be Nebraskans who will have to live with the pipeline, and the people who control the tar sands land in Canada. That group happens to include the famous campaign-contributing Koch brothers.

So, question answered.

This is really getting tiresome. As we have pointed out many times–this post provides a good summary–Koch Industries has nothing to do with the Keystone pipeline. In fact, the pipeline would damage Koch’s financial interests by diverting Alberta oil to the southern U.S. where there are many large refineries. Currently, there is a glut of Alberta oil in the northern U.S. that benefits Koch’s refinery in Rosemount, Minnesota. TransCanada, the prospective builder of the pipeline, has said that Koch has “absolutely nothing to do with Keystone XL (KXL). They are neither a shipper nor a receiver on KXL and this has been confirmed repeatedly and publicly many times.”

Apparently Ms. Collins doesn’t follow the news closely, as the Washington Post tried to peddle the same myth earlier this year, and was humiliated. What happened to the Post received a great deal of attention, and if Ms. Collins is really unaware of it, she is not qualified to be writing about current events.

Collins moves on to another Democratic Party talking point:

If the Keystone project came up for a vote in the new Senate, it would probably draw enough Democratic support to hit the magic number of 60. Then it would be up to President Obama, who is constantly being criticized by Republicans for standing between America and a jobs-rich energy boom. This would be the same president who’s opened up massive new areas for oil exploration, increased the sale of leases for drilling on federal land and cut back on the processing time for drilling permits.

Yes, that was Obama’s campaign slogan: Drill, baby, drill! It is comical to watch Democratic Party apologists perform backflips as they first assure us that oil and gas production is a threat to civilization and then, moments later, pat Barack Obama on the back for ostensibly being the greatest enabler of hydrocarbon development in history. In reality, they don’t see this as a contradiction because they know it isn’t true.

Let’s take Collins’s claim that President Obama has “increased the sale of leases for drilling on federal land.” This is a factual claim as to which data are available, which generally means trouble for liberals. The Bureau of Land Management tracks the oil and gas leases that it grants on federal lands, and compiles the numbers in this chart titled Number of Acres Leased During the Fiscal Year. Here are the totals for the last four years of the Bush administration and the Obama administration through FY 2013:

Bush:
FY 2005: 4,314,207
FY 2006: 4,385,378
FY 2007: 4,634,736
FY 2008: 2,615,259

Obama:
FY 2009: 1,913,602
FY 2010: 1,353,663
FY 2011: 2,016,176
FY 2012: 1,752,060
FY 2013: 1,172,808

The Obama administration has drastically reduced exploration for oil and gas on federal lands. The fracking revolution has occurred because Obama’s EPA couldn’t stop development on private and state-owned lands.

The New York Times has become a haven for the uninformed. Its columnists are particularly laughable. Really, the Times could dispense with its editorial section altogether, and simply reprint press releases from the Democratic National Committee. That’s pretty much what it consists of already.

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