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May 14, 2014 08:23 AM UTC

The Keystone XL Pipeline: 2014's Fakest Issue

  • by: Colorado Pols

The Hill's Laura Baron-Lopez:

The American Energy Alliance is spending over $400,000 on a new ad accusing Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) of opposing construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The conservative super-PAC claims Udall, who is up for reelection this year, wants to kills the $5.4 billion project. The ad is set to run through May 23…

Udall spokesman Mike Saccone said the reason the senator didn't vote for the Republican and Democratic budget amendments on Keystone last year was because he felt it wasn't Congress' place to do so.

"Sen. Udall still believes Congress should not be injecting politics into the review process," Saccone said.

The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels explains, the American Energy Alliance is on a familiar team:

The alliance has ties to the the wealthy Koch brothers, who helped found Americans for Prosperity. That group also is attacking Udall on the air.

Politico reported in 2012 that American Energy Alliance is the political arm of the Institute for Energy Research, and both groups were funded partly by the Koch brothers and their donor network.

The controversy over completing the Keystone XL pipeline's Phase 4 connection between Hardisty, Alberta and Steele City, Nebraska, which would expedite shipments of Canadian tar sands heavy crude oil through to, among other locations, Gulf Coast oil export terminals, has been the subject of a massive public relations campaign by the oil and gas industry spanning several years. Over time, the case for building the Keystone XL has been hyped into an essential struggle for American freedom itself, not to mention the American economy, whose very existence apparently depends on being able to ship Canadian heavy crude oil to global markets a little bit faster.

If that sounds kind of silly, that's because it is.

The estimates of "job creation" from the construction of the Keystone XL Phase 4 line from proponents have ranged from highly optimistic to downright laughable. Media Matters documented some years ago how FOX News has estimated for its viewers anywhere between 50,000 and a million jobs created by Keystone XL, both of which having simply no basis in reality whatsoever. Now, don't get us wrong here–Keystone XL opponents haven't done themselves any favors by portraying this incremental increase in Canadian tar sands oil shipping capacity as the tipping point for end of the world. More expansive arguments about fossil fuels and climate change aside, the principal environmental risk posed by the Keystone XL is to the Sand Hills wetlands area of Nebraska. That's a significant issue, but not probably enough to inspire a March on Washington.

Here in Colorado, there's even less reason to get worked up about Keystone XL. The Suncor refinery in Commerce City already refines Canadian tar sands crude via our existing pipeline connection to Alberta, in addition to our booming local production. If anything, there's a very sound self-interested argument for Coloradans to oppose the Keystone XL, one that has nothing to do with climate change or oil pollution:

The purpose of the $7.6 billion Keystone is to move 830,000 barrels of oil a day from landlocked Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast, obtaining new customers and a higher price for heavy Canadian crude, Canadian regulators said in a 2010 report. The oil sold for $23.38 less per barrel in 2011 compared with heavy grades of Mexican crude, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“The Canadian plan was to use their market power to raise prices in the United States (UNG) and get more money from consumers,” Philip Verleger, founder of Colorado-based energy consulting firm PK Verleger LLC, said in an interview. Prices may gain 10 to 20 cents in central states, he said. [Pols emphasis]

Producers including Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), Suncor Energy Inc. (SU) and Cenovus Energy Inc. (CVE) may reap as much as $4 billion more in annual revenue if prices rise as expected following the construction of the 1,661-mile (2,673-kilometer) Keystone XL conduit, the 2010 report says.

Clearly, it's time to take to the streets of Denver and demand in the name of freedom that this oil export pipeline be constructed right now! So we can pay more for the same oil we already get! You can shovel all the money into this as an electoral message that you want–in Colorado, it's wasted money. The Koch brothers will love it, but Keystone XL won't be costing any Colorado Democrats their jobs.


11 thoughts on “The Keystone XL Pipeline: 2014’s Fakest Issue

  1. This is just more hype so that when it gets around to local control of oil and gas drilling than Udall will be cast as a dirty dog by manufactured media association with Keystone.

    One of the overlooked problems with the Canadian Tar Sands is that it is destroying the Boreal Forest which accounts for something like half of the oxygen generated for the planet.  We're going to be fucked if we lose these large natural oxygen producing habitats but I'm sure Moldy will see it as an opportunity to sell oxygen for a profit to those wealthy enough to afford it.  It's going to suck to be everyone else.

    1. That really seems like such a small price to pay in order for the Kochs to be able to bank another $100 Billion . . . 

      . . . worse comes to worse, they can always buy us another planet.

  2. It's why Denver International Airport, which has roughly one-half the annual passenger count of Atlanta's Hartsfield Airport (the busiest in the US) has a larger carbon footprint than ATL: Colorado's JetA is refined from tar sands in Commerce City's Suncor facility, Atlanta's JetA is derived from conventional sources.

    1. DIA emissions were the proverbial elephant in the room when Denver was trying to tackle emissions reductions targets as part of the GreenPrint Denver  initiiative:

      "Even if there's a 2 percent chance that 95 percent of the world's top climate scientists are right about the dire consequences of global warming, we run the risk of being the first generation in history to leave the next generation a problem for which there is no solution"

      ~Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper

      We have the sixth busiest airport in the US, yet our JetA is refined from Canadian tar sands in Commerce City.  A product with such an extreme carbon footprint that no suite of reduction schemes would make a dent in the inventory.

      The Qatar scenario isn't all that different from Colorado – a region rich in natural gas.  They are pioneering the conversion of natural gas to JetA – a much friendlier product for the envrionment: 

      The chief executive of Qatar Airways, Akbar Al Baker, asserted that the fuel is easier on the environment than jet fuel made from petroleum. First, it has no sulfur and thus does not produce sulfur dioxide, which is a more potent global warming gas than carbon dioxide when emitted at low altitudes. (This is tricky: at higher altitudes, sulfur dioxide reflects sunlight back into space and thus in theory combats global warming.)

      It is an energy-intense process (requiring vast amounts of electricity), yet if those electrons were generated via our world-class wind resources, that consumption becomes neglibable.  In that Colorado scenario there would be lots of winners.  Instead of sending our petro/aviation dollars back to Canada, we'd unite our responsibly extracted gas resources, provide new opoprtunities for rural Colorado communities to generate the electricity – and we'd trap every one of those energy dollars right here in our economy.

  3. So if Exports are bad, then I guess ColoradoPols must also feel that jobs coming from Exports are bad as well.  


    1. It depends on what your 'export' might be….this is clearly a profitable business.  Doesn't mean it should be supported.

      In 2004, the total annual revenue for trafficking in persons were estimated to be between USD$5 billion and $9 billion.[15]

      In 2005, Patrick Belser of ILO estimated a global annual profit of $31.6 billion.[16] In 2008, the United Nations estimated nearly 2.5 million people from 127 different countries are being trafficked into 137 countries around the world.[17]


    2. No, Elliot. What's interesting is that the pipeline won't do what those clamoring for it say it will do. Few if any permanent jobs will be added to our economy and this has nothing to do with providing more for Americans or lowering their costs. The level of denial you are consistently able to maintain in order to keep supporting your rightie pals is astonishing. Please note, I am not here setting forth an opinion on whether or not the pipeline deal is something that should go forward. Simply observing that the reasons politicians put forward to the public for endorsing it aren't reality based. But then your party of preference has long treated fact based reality as just another lefty conspiracy to inconvenience them. 

  4. I have said it before…I am saying it again. O&G drives politics…not the other way around. Americans should be taught to distrust the things they hear on TV (mostly, but other media as well) the most. Does the average American not understand how much energy prices could retreat if the O&G industry immediately stopped all advertising that is political in nature?

    O&G ads used to be about perfomance and service. They used to compare their product to others in the business. No more. For a very long time, oil and gas advertising has been about policy, little else. The nature of O&G advertising is almost entirely designed to sway public opinion about legislation and the general wonderfulness of O&G.

    BP wants you to know how much its operation in Alaska creates jobs in the lower 48. Chevron wants you to know how much you and its workforce think alike. Apparently their modeling suggests that inclusiveness is a winning strategy.

    But most of these lies and distortions, aimed at American voter, are perpetrated by API (the American Petroleum Institute)and ANGA (the American Natural Gas Association). "Do you own an oil company", asks the "lady in the black pantsuit". Well, surely that is a good reason to love us and let us do whatever we want…right?

    It is about ROI for a handful of VERY wealthy companies…period. Do you see the common word in the names of both the groups mentioned above? Therein lies the greatest irony in this entire discussion.

  5. Wanna' build a pipeline somewhere?!?  How about from our San Luis valley extending to Irwindale???  Way more than 35 permanent jobs for Colorado!!

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