The Latest Keystone Caper

In my Weekly Standard article out a few days ago (“The Climate Circus Leaves Town”), I predicted:

What [Obama] may do is tentatively approve Keystone along with a major policy shift that will please environmentalists and subject Keystone to further and perhaps fatal delays. There is talk that the administration may expand the scope of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to require that proposed projects like Keystone document their impact on global warming in the permit approval process.

Well, that talk became reality yesterday (Earth Day, by coincidence), when the EPA, citing NEPA, released a letter to the State Department attacking State’s positive environmental review of Keystone.  You can download the whole letter from this LA Times (soon to be a Koch Industries publication?) story.  It’s six pages long; hardly a serious “study” of Keystone.  Also as I predicted in my article (“It would be a bonanza for environmental lawyers, who would have new grounds for filing lawsuits to challenge the adequacy of environmental impact statements”), the EPA letter says State’s environmental impact statement didn’t adequately consider all alternative routes, didn’t adequately consult local activist groups (i.e., relentless obstructionists) and didn’t consider “environmental justice” (i.e., they haven’t asked Jesse Jackson’s permission).  Overall, EPA says, there is “insufficient information” to make a final environmental impact assessment.

Pretty clear what is going to happen next.  Citing this letter, Obama is going to order the EPA to do its own full review of Keystone, which will likely take a couple of years or more.  No doubt he hopes TransCanada will run out of patience and abandon the whole idea, and build pipelines to ship the oil overseas to other customers (or to the U.S. by train and ocean-going tanker).  It’s another way for Obama to vote “present.”

Last week I participated, via Skype, on a Canadian TV show about Keystone and energy issues.  My point: those Canadian hydrocarbons are coming out of the ground and getting to the market.  The only question is how fast, and whether it will be done sensibly or insensibly.  If you’re a fan of Canadian news programs, you can watch the hour-long show here.  (I sound a bit tinny on Skype if you ask me.)

I’d give the EPA a Green Weenie, except that under the usual contest rules, friends and family members are ineligible.


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