Saturday, February 1, 2014

The XL Pipeline Decision

I dislike disagreeing with my friends in the environmental movement, but I am going to come down for letting the Canadians build their XL pipeline in the US.  This is an issue where both sides have way overhyped the issue, with neither the environmental damages nor the supposed economic boost in teh US as bad or gas ood as either the critics or the supporters claim.  It is a mostly pretty small stuff, but huge noises and huffing and puffing have gone down on both sides, with it becoming highly partisan, just to totally distort things.  I would link to Jim Hamilton now, but his posts on this were ages ago, but this was his bottom line: this is a normal garden variety deal like what goes on in the US all the time (see fracking for oil and gas in North Dakota), turned into a big deal because it is a cross-border deal.

Cutting to the most recent chase is the freshly-delivered State Department report that says it essentially has no impact on global warming.  Why is that?  Because even if Obama kills it, the Canadians will still develop their tar sands and sell the output to China, probably sending the stuff across the Rockies to Vancouver to ship, either by train or pipeline, which will almost certainly entail a higher risk of ground environmental damage due to spills, plus damage to global warming due to or say "blame Canada," but they are currently the best friend of the US, despite a long history of the US ignoring their interests and violating trade and other treaties, with the US having a long history of sending pollution of various sorts, including acid rain, across our mutual border into Canada, damaging their forests and fisheries, which they are far more dependent on economically than we are in the US.

We have had a long history of ignoring them on such matters, and even though now our environmentalists might say that we are on the side of virtue for once, sort of, I do not see the damage to our relations with them worth the, frankly, zero gain to the environment that will occur by slapping them in the face on this matter.  Just say yes and build the damned thing. Those tar sands are going to get developed no matter what anyway.

Barkley Rosser


Sandwichman said...

I don't consider myself an expert authority on the oilsands, as the residents of Fort Mac prefer to call them. But I personally know several authorities and I happen to teach a course in a Canadian university that is centrally concerned with climate change issues as they relate to labour.

As a Canadian, I resent Barkley's framing of this issue as "imperialist" environmentalists vs. Canadian interests. That is the official propaganda line of the right-wing Harper government. It is a smear directed at the substantial Canadian opposition to pipelines accelerated oilsands development. Like much of the Harper propaganda, it might even have been dreamed up by U.S. Republican political operatives. Which is not to say that there aren't local slime buckets like Ezra "Ethical Oil" Levant capable of Rush Limbaugh style fact twisting and hate mongering.

Go ahead and pooh-pooh the arguments against the XL pipeline, Barkley. But please, please don't do so on behalf of us poor Canadians. We prefer to speak for ourselves -- at least until YOUR NSA tells "OUR" government to shut us up. said...


Having replied over on Economists View at some length, let me here simply put the link to Jim Hamilton's post on this. Although somewhat out of doubt, it provides useful information, and I note that the comments cover a wide range of issues from various perspectives, including from many people who criticize portions of his argument.

http;// said...

Sorry, that link worked when I put it up at Economistsview. If you want it, google "James Hamilton XL Pipeline." It is the first hit.

Or, hell, just google the url; it will surely come up.

ProGrowthLiberal said...

Jeff Sachs makes the case that oil sands and fracked oil have externalities that ideally should be included in the overall cost of this oil. But alas it is not. So with production costs being around $70 a barrel and the market price of oil being around $100 a barrel, it will get sold. The Pipeline is not the issue. The issue is the failure of our governments imposing the right Pigovian taxes. said...


I argued with Joe Stiglitz some years ago about this at a secret conference on global warming when Bush was prez. He pushed Pigou taxes and charged the cargon market with corruption, with people in the room running that market. He and I argued about India vs China, but more specifically about practical details involved, which are serious.

So, at that meeting it was reported by a Norwegian rep that the Nordics had been trying to

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Myrtle Blackwood said...

I am not very familiar with the background to the oil sands industry but it is my understanding that a lot of energy is used to extract the oil, and much pollution involved.

If this is the case then I believe that the industry should be discouraged as much as possible. Nations around the world still have a very long way to go in the direction of discouraging the consumption of fossil fuels.

The American government surely has the means of 'doing a deal' with Canada to direct Canada's energy industry in a new direction.

I understand that Bavaria has more solar installations than in the whole of the USA.

Brenda Rosser