An editorial from the Kansas City Star starts with a falsehood, the pipeline is stuck in the legislative process, and ends with:
When that debate occurs, pipeline opponents will be able to point to the already much higher petroleum production in this country and wonder if the environmental risks inherent with the pipeline are truly worth taking.
Keystone is stuck in an administrative process. The current administration is not going to approve it. We are left to guess why they won’t approve it but the likeliest candidate seems to be to appease the neo-Luddites that are sometimes referred to as environmentalists.
The argument the editors seem to be making is that the oil industry is doing well and
Critics such as Friends of the Earth say extracting the tar sands oil creates far more harmful carbon dioxide emissions than regular drilling, increases water pollution and destroys forests.
Both of these arguments are irrelevant to building Keystone. The condition of the oil industry does not imply anything for Keystone. The tar sands are in Canada. The tar sands are going to be exploited by Canada. The two questions are:
- Do we want the oil shipped by train or pipeline?
- Do we want to ship the jobs to Japan, China, and elsewhere?
Environmentally, it is a toss up on average between trains and pipelines. It seems, however, that Keystone wins at the margin. That is, oil shipped by rail has sharply increased in the last few years and oil spills from rail were way up in 2013. It could be a aberration rather than a trend but MWG concludes it is a trend because we have the opportunity to have a trackside view. There are more trains and they are going faster. Accidents are more likely. Cost-wise, Keystone is significantly cheaper.
It would be nice to have a serious debate on Keystone but that is not going to happen because the editors and the administration don’t want to allow the debate or the pipeline. The legislative support that will likely come in January will not change the minds of the obstructionists. Meanwhile, those of us near the tracks are in greater danger, albeit, slightly.