Revisiting the pipeline

Monday, November 12, 2012
Chris Woodward (

There has been a lot of talk since the election about President Barack Obama approving the Keystone XL pipeline, and one expert sees reason to believe that the rumors are true.

Loris, Nick (Heritage)Nick Loris, an economist focusing on energy, environmental and regulatory issues for The Heritage Foundation, thinks the Keystone XL pipeline will be pushed through to the forefront "for the reason that President Obama said he was going to make this decision soon after the election and in the beginning of 2013, and it's obviously already been sufficient time in which the Department of State completed its environmental review and came to the conclusion that the pipeline would pose no significant environmental risk."

The decision would ultimately involve the northern leg of the pipeline, which crosses the Canadian/United States border, thus requiring a presidential permit.

"The part of the pipeline from Cushing, Oklahoma, down to the Gulf Coast -- since that's all within the United States, construction has already taken place," the economist explains.

A recent editorial in the Canadian The Globe and Mail calls on President Obama to approve the pipeline, admitting that some of the concerns about a pipeline carrying Canadian bitumen are "valid."

"Well, the environmental concern really is that, one … it runs over the Ogallala Aquifer in Nebraska. But if you look at the state of Nebraska, it looks like a spider web of oil and gas pipelines," Loris notes. "The other concern from environmental activist organizations is that Canadian tar sands oil is more greenhouse gas intense than other oil we produce and we import."

The energy economist explains that that is an insignificant portion of emissions compared to global emissions -- not to mention that even if Obama does not agree to build this pipeline, the oil will go somewhere else, namely China, where it will be refined in less regulated refineries.

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