The Real Reason Behind The Keystone XL Pipeline’s Cancelation

By Michael Todd

Keystone XL Image: Jason Kenney

   If the media had any integrity, they would report on the true motivation behind the Keystone XL Pipeline’s cancelation and why it means so much to the left.   Unfortunately, that will never happen because they are too busy talking about how Biden is the next messiah. Before we get into the details, keep in mind that the cancelation does not stop the country’s shipping of oil, nor does it eliminate oil extraction from the Canadian oil sands. It just makes the transportation of the oil more expensive, dangerous, and less environmentally unfriendly.

   Many on the left mistakenly believe that the Keystone XL pipeline’s cancelation will stop oil extraction from the Canadian Oil Sands fields. It will still be extracted from the ground and hauled by trucks and trains like it is now, less environmentally friendly and safe. So why is there such an outcry to prevent a safer way of transporting oil we know will still be extracted and shipped throughout the United States? This is about who benefits from shipping oil from Canada’s oil sands fields into the United States for refinement and consumption. Prominent Democratic donor, billionaire Warren Buffett will profit handsomely from the decision, being compensated by the Biden administration for his support. Buffett’s Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad and his trucking companies will be the notable beneficiaries because they are the primary transporters of Canadian oil from the oil sand fields into the United States. The cancelation of the pipeline effectively reduces Buffet’s competition under the guise of environmental activism.

   In 2017, around 140 million barrels of crude oil were transported by rail in the United States, a 64% decrease from  2014 volumes. This decline was due to the opening of new crude oil pipelines and fewer shipments from the Midwest to the East Coast as coastal refineries imported more crude oil.  Crude oil imports by rail from Canada were about 48 million barrels in 2017. Trucks are very versatile but are mainly used for short-distance transportation of oil and refined products. However, trucks are not incredibly energy-efficient, requiring three times as much energy as a train, which is itself less efficient than a pipeline to move the same amount of material. Hence, trucks are less attractive for long-distance transportation.

   There are currently over 2.6 million miles of pipeline throughout America, enough to travel to the moon and back more than five times. Over 90% of crude oil and refined petroleum products are transported by pipeline at some point. Are there risks with pipelines? Of course, and I am not saying they are without incident. Spills and leaks are very rare, but no transportation system is 100% safe. Statistics demonstrate that pipelines have many benefits over other forms of oil transportation. There are environmental, public health, and economic incentives for maintaining a safe and efficient transportation system for our energy resources.

   The  U.S. mainly imports Canadian crude oil and exports refined products. Pipelines crossing the U.S.-Canada border include 31 oil and 39 natural gas pipelines.  91% of all oil imported into the U.S. from Canada was transported by pipeline, 3% by rail, and 5% by marine vessels.

   The Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, records all pipeline incidents. In 2019, fewer than a dozen pipeline incidents were considered severe, and one tragically resulted in four workers in Texas being killed. Trucking, which is the fallback transportation method after the pipeline is canceled, is considerably less safe. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration under The Department of Transportation records accidents involving Trucks. In 2018, the most recent year recorded, trucks were involved in 4,862 fatal crashes, 112,000 crashes that resulted in injury, and 414,000 crashes which resulted in property damage. In 2019, rail accidents accounted for 11,434 incidents injuring 7,730 with 937 fatalities.  

   Something amazingly not being discussed in this conversation is the massive renewable energy investments coming from the pipeline’s construction. Canada’s TC Energy Corp. had committed to spending $1.7 billion on solar, wind, and battery power to operate the partially completed 2,000-mile pipeline. The company also pledged to hire a union workforce and eliminate all greenhouse-gas emissions from operations by 2030.

   Unfortunately, the points being made above do not matter to the current administration. The pipeline was canceled because those now controlling the Whitehouse are more concerned with lining their donors’ pockets than saving thousands of jobs and the environment. These are not the decisions of a serious politician who sees the fallout from job losses and geopolitics, let alone the increase in emissions that will result.​ These are the priorities of rich megadonors and the repayment for their support over the American people’s best interests.  

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