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If we don’t do the evil thing …

by Greg Krehbiel on 27 January 2014

Opposition to the Keystone Pipeline has always seemed naive to me — at least in this respect. The opponents seem to think that it’s a choice between building the pipeline (oh no, that’s evil) and stopping it, therefore inaugurating the age of renewables.

That’s naive and counter-factual. Canada is going to produce the oil. If we don’t take it, they’ll haul it farther and sell it to the Chinese. Is that better? It means a longer pipeline, and then transport by ship to a country with worse environmental standards. How is that an improvement?

Opposing pipelines also increases the amount of oil that is transported by rail, which is far more dangerous.

The opponents seem to think that if they can make it harder and harder to do those nasty hydrocarbon projects, wind and solar will finally catch on and the world will be wonderful.

That’s not the way the real world works, but … everybody has their sacred values, right?

-- 2014-01-27  »  Greg Krehbiel

Talkback x 6

  1. DSM
    27 January 2014 @ 10:19 am

    I think “sacred values” is the key point, and the point which makes their position makes sense. It’s an improvement because they’re no longer materially participating in the evil.

    The “data” of their position is wrong, but the idea of being unwilling to participate in something which is going to happen if if you’re not involved and might even be worse if you don’t doesn’t seem crazy to me.

  2. RootCzar
    27 January 2014 @ 10:29 am

    greg, have you read that we get the oil? my understanding is that we’d be refining it … then the global market.

  3. Greg Krehbiel Greg Krehbiel
    27 January 2014 @ 10:32 am

    There’s a sense in which all oil is part of the global market simply because an increase in supply in any place changes demand, which influences the overall market.

    But yes, it was my understanding that we would get and use the oil in the states.

  4. Dave Krehbiel Dave Krehbiel
    27 January 2014 @ 11:42 am

    if we assume that we intend to sell gasoline and diesel fuel to other countries…
    – we still control the oil
    – we are less dependent on oil from the Middle East in the event of war
    – we control other products from oil (from which we get things like propane and pharmaceuticals and plastics and fertilizers)
    – the oil will be distilled under US environmental standards
    – our balance of trade will improve
    – we will create jobs in the US
    – we will be letting the market decide, rather than ideology.

    General MacArthur said: most battles are lost because of a break in the supply line. Reality: we are dependent upon coal and oil right now. Hopefully we can get power from windmills and solar cells and rainbows and unicorns in the future. Until then, we need oil.

  5. RootCzar
    27 January 2014 @ 10:58 pm

    huh … Alberta’s energy minister Ken Hughes, “It is a strategic imperative, it is in Alberta’s interest, in Canada’s interest, that we get access to tidewater… to diversify away from the single continental market and be part of the global market.” after all, mexico and other various south american countries, get more like $100 per barrel for their oil in europe and asia … when canadian oil only gets on average, $70 per barrel in the us.

    so … the initial efforts to pipeline alberta tar sands crude to coastal british columbia, were rejected (for many of the same reasons it got rejected here). then, the xl pipeline is proposed, to run to refineries in gulf of mexico states … so that we can keep the oil here, for our use? odd how the myriad of midwest refineries, don’t seem to be in play for this pipeline project.

    greg, you claimed a naiveté on the part of others?

  6. Greg Krehbiel Greg Krehbiel
    28 January 2014 @ 7:37 am

    I’m not sure I understand your point. The oil is going to be produced. It’s either going to be moved by rail or by pipeline. Which would you prefer? And it’s either going to U.S. or to foreign refineries. Which would you prefer? (Also, BTW, Keystone is supposed to deliver to Gulf Coast and Midwestern refineries.)

    Furthermore, if more oil is available at U.S. refineries that decreases the amount of oil we have to import.

    Obviously Canada also wants to export oil to foreign markets. The question is whether we want more or less of that. From an environmental perspective and from a North American energy perspective it’s better to keep more of it here.