Category Archives: News & Analysis

Why the Keystone XL Pipeline will not help our energy independence or gas prices

tar sandObama recently announced support for the approval of the southern portion of the Keystone XL Pipeline that ships Canadian bitumen (heavily processed oil from tar sands/shale) to the Gulf. Why do Canadian tar sands producers want to transport their product over 2000 miles to the Gulf? In order to ship to Asia, which has the highest demand.

Even if the bitumen from the pipeline went to the domestic market, it will only contribute approximately 500,000 barrels/day when operated at maximum capacity. This is an insufficient amount to make up for old, declining domestic wells.

mordor tar sandsDeveloping tar sands is going backwards not forward like Obama claims. At best it has a slim energy return on energy invested due to the intensive mining and processing required, no better than biofuels. All the while releasing substantially more greenhouse gases and pollution. James Hansen of NASA described it as “essentially game over” for reversing climate change.

A spill could easily outweigh the economic benefits of 5000 temporary construction jobs. The initial portion of the Keystone pipeline already had 12 accidental spills since coming online in 2010.

Risks are high and there’s little reward besides maintaining addiction. This is tantamount to the alcoholic who unable to obtain their fix desperately tries to get drunk off rubbing alcohol, destroying their liver even faster.

We have to lay off the bottle sometime soon and transition to a new way of life. It’s obvious the bartending political establishment won’t be leading the way.

UPDATE:¬†One of the most common claims used to support the Keystone XL pipeline construction is “it doesn’t matter, the bitumen will be coming out of the ground one way or the other.” Not so, according to the calculations of one economist. Since the Keystone XL pipeline is one of the¬†largest proposed pipelines from the Canadian tar sands, not building it will result in one billion barrels of bitumen being left in the ground according to his estimates.