Harry Reid and the Keystone Pipeline

Harry Reid and the Keystone Pipeline

When thinly disguised ideological objections are in the background, the superficial public arguments that politicians employ can be off base to outright silly. This is the case in the October 5 letter by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton objecting to TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline, planned to bring 500,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada’s Alberta to the USA, all the way to Texas.. Clinton is expected to make the final decision on the project sometime over the next few months but thus far, she seems inclined to approve it. She said there is “no reason to believe” the State Department is “biased in favor of the pipeline” and “it is better to get oil from a friendly neighbor like Canada than from the Middle East.”

But Sen. Reid has other ideas. In his letter of October 5 he writes: “The proponents of the pipeline would be wiser to invest instead in job-creating clean energy projects, like renewable power, energy efficiency or advanced vehicles and fuels that could employ thousands of people in the United States rather than increasing our dependency on unsustainable supplies of dirty and polluting oil that could easily be exported….” “The fastest and best way to break our addiction to oil and free our country and our economy from the dangerous grip of OPEC is to develop and deploy new technologies and clean affordable alternatives that destroy demand for oil not exacerbate it.”

In just a few sentences the Majority Leader presents at least five huge misinformations that have fed and made nasty the ideological divide. Clearly Reid wants a world free of fossil fuels, socially engineered to his liking. But his public justifications for his objections such as his claims on renewables being alternatives to oil are about at the same level as the claims (twice) by his then House counterpart, Nancy Pelosi that natural gas is not a “fossil fuel.” In this era of dire economic outlook, the Majority Leader appears unrepentant and indeed unbending.

  1. Any rudimentary engineering economic calculation irrespective whether one believes in man-made, CO2-induced global climate change, peak oil or geopolitical calamities clearly shows that fossil fuels are significantly superior to any alternatives such as solar and wind. The entire twenty first century will still be dominated by fossil fuels. Countries that do not recognize this and do not put it in center stage of national policy will pay a huge price.
  2. “Renewable power” is not an alternative to oil or vice versa. We do not use any oil to speak of for power generation and, essentially, we do not use anything but oil for transportation. This is a cardinal mistake, a legacy of 40 years old era. Senator Reid ought to know that. In any case no wind or solar power can survive anywhere in the world without massive (and not affordable) government subsidies. In study after study it is clearly shown that green jobs cause much larger losses in other industrial jobs.
  3. “Advanced vehicles and fuels”. What is he talking about? Vehicles have improved dramatically over the past 40 years but gasoline demand has been going up (slowed down only by economic recession.) We manage to find new uses for transportation. Fuels? Surely he is not talking about the negative energy balance corn-based ethanol or the non-existent cellulosic ethanol. None of these could exist without massive government subsidies and their impact on food prices is almost criminal.
  4. “Addiction to oil” a slogan used by others, from both parties is a cheap rallying cry but quite ignorant. Yes, the United States, a rich nation will use more oil than others. But, what is often missing in this debate is that the use of energy generates wealth. In fact energy and energy abundance separates rich from poor countries. The Chinese and emerging nations have understood it. Our politicians instead of advocating economic hara-kiri should level with the American people on how important energy is to our lifestyle and well-being. The cavalier attitude of environmental radicals should be exposed for what it is. It should not be an integral part of a national party’s platform.
  5. The last time I looked, Canada, our closest ally, was not a member of OPEC. Oil from that country should be a US national policy, encouraged not objected.

The opponents to the pipeline, now aided by Harry Reid, are often people who have never seen an energy project they like. After the pipeline got a clean bill of environmental health from a reputable engineering firm, they want to start the assessment all over again and, you guessed it, not on the report’s merits but because who else are clients of the firm.

This whole affair has been an outrageous spectacle from the beginning. It is about time that the American people see through all this nonsense and make realistic energy an important issue in the next election.

© 2013 Energy Tribune

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