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Noted electric car disinformation specialist John Broder of the New York Times tries his hand at covering the Keystone XL pipeline. It holds up about as well as his deceptive Telsa test drive.

The premise of the article is that President Obama must chose between his domestic environmental supporters and a major foreign ally.

President Obama faces a knotty decision in whether to approve the much-delayed Keystone oil pipeline: a choice between alienating environmental advocates who overwhelmingly supported his candidacy or causing a deep and perhaps lasting rift with Canada.
Broder even suggests that failure to approve the pipeline could cause a trade war.
Canada, the United States’ most important trading partner and a close ally on Iran and Afghanistan, is counting on the pipeline to propel more growth in its oil patch, a vital engine for its economy. Its leaders have made it clear that an American rejection would be viewed as an unneighborly act and could bring retaliation.
After spending a good deal of time reading media coverage in Canada of the pipeline issue, I do not recall ever seeing any threats of a trade war. Broder does not offer any substantiation for his vaguely worded threats. I cannot help but wonder what that retaliation might look like. Perhaps they would sell us less tar sands bituminous sludge, albeit a strange response to our not expanding heavy oil imports. Or perhaps they will not join us in our next costly military misadventure. Or maybe they will not buy our overpriced weapon systems.

It is the oil industry that is promoting the pipeline issue as a diplomatic crisis. According to the head of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, "the signal of a rejection of a permit by the president would be a significant change in the Canada-U.S. relationship." In other words, it is just another talking point from the oil cartel to push for approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. Broder weaves the talking point into the entire article.

Here is another unsubstantiated claim:

The proposed northern extension of the nearly 2,000-mile Keystone XL pipeline would connect Canada’s oil sands to refineries around Houston and the Gulf of Mexico, replacing Venezuelan heavy crude with similar Canadian grades.
One of the major talking points is that Canadian tar sands give us energy security because we no longer have to rely on importing oil from the Middle East or other politically volatile regions. Broder elevates this argument by claiming the expansion will automatically replace imports from Venezuela. Had he done a little research he might have discovered the imports from Venezuela have already declined, but unlikely to decline further because of refinery partnership agreements.

The real battle over the Keystone XL pipeline is between the oil industry and the overwhelming majority of Americans that favor a transition to clean energy. Public opinion has been shaped by media coverage that pretends the pipeline is about energy security and jobs despite the fact that neither are true. It is a pet project favored by the oil industry to increase profits.

There is no evidence that the Keystone XL pipeline will lower oil prices. The attractiveness of Gulf Coast refineries is that they facilitate export of refined oil products, which have increased dramatically since 2005. If our energy security depends on importing more tar sands crude from Canada, then why have oil prices and exports increased since 2005 despite rapidly increasing imports from Canada?

There is also no evidence that the project will create anything other than short-term construction jobs. A Cornell study debunked claims coming from the oil industry. Here are a few key points.

--The project budget that has a direct impact on U.S. employment is between $3 and $4 billion or about half of what industry claims.

--50% or more of the steel pipe, the main material input used for Keystone XL, will be manufactured outside of the U.S.

--Jobs will be temporary and between 85-90% of the people hired to do the work will be non-local or from out of state.

--The Perryman study, which estimates around 119,000 (direct, indirect and induced) jobs is a poorly documented study commissioned by TransCanada.

--Job losses would be caused by additional fuel costs in the Midwest, pipeline spills, pollution and the rising costs of climate change.  Even one year of fuel price increases as a result of Keystone XL could cancel out some or all of the jobs created by the project.

Instead of putting people to work on pointless pipeline projects, how about rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, including modernizing our water supply and sewage treatment? We have critical infrastructure needs in this country, but the Keystone XL pipeline is not one of them.

The Keystone XL pipeline is about climate and energy policy. Instead of any serious discussion in media, we get junk like this Broder recasting of industry talking points. Climate science and energy security demand a rapid transition to a low carbon economy. Oil will not disappear from our transportations any time soon, but it will never be cheap.

The New York Times recently dismantled its environment desk, which had produced some important investigative journalism on climate change and hydraulic fracturing. Despite assurances that the quality of coverage would not be affected, Broder's latest bromide makes me wonder.

Time to move forward on climate and put a stop to the failed energy policies of the 20th century.

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Comment Preferences

  •  This John Broder is a menace! Blech. (14+ / 0-)

    I ♥ President Barack Obama.

    by ericlewis0 on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 08:44:33 AM PST

  •  With NAFTA a trade war is impossible (21+ / 0-)

    It would violate the treaty. Broder's assertion is ridiculous.

    The NY Times is going down hill fast on scitech and the environment. Broder has been exposed as a hack by Elon Musk's epic smackdown on the electric car review.

    look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

    by FishOutofWater on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 08:49:30 AM PST

    •  And with NAFTA (8+ / 0-)

      Canada is not allowed to lower its environmental standards.

      I linked to the debunking of Broder's test drive. Broder is an excellent apologist for the oil industry. Perhaps he is auditioning for a lobbyist position.

      Be radical in your compassion.

      by DWG on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 09:11:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  From your lips to the president's ears (7+ / 0-)

        Few issues offer such stark clarity.  Will the WH side w/ the people who elected it to 2 terms, or will it side w/ Big Oil?  There's no blaming the Hill Goopers for this one, and the relative merits of the competing arguments are painfully obvious.

        I only wish that I was more optimistic about the likely outcome of this critical decision.

        Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?

        by RFK Lives on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 09:38:15 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  My fear (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          KenBee, Laconic Lib, SolarMom

          Keystone XL pipeline approval will be used as a bargaining chip to push for limits on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. That would be a devil's bargain. It would not cover the increased greenhouse gas emissions from refineries handling the heavy oil. It would have to come from the EPA since Congress would never agree to anything. The EPA has not even been able to implement tougher toxic emissions on power plants and refineries, much less regulate greenhouse gases. All of this would be on top of expansion of the tar sands carbon footprint and increased pipeline spill risk.

          It is clear that rallies yesterday, including the 40,000 plus in DC, has gotten the media's attention and changed the conversation. I doubt hacks like Broder would have written an article like this had there not been evidence that opposition to the pipeline was growing and growing louder.

          Be radical in your compassion.

          by DWG on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 10:05:48 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I hope you're right but (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            catfood

            the media managed to ignore ten times that many in D.C. in September 2005 to protest the war in Iraq. And that was the opposition's watershed, where Cindy Sheehan's August protest found confluence with Katrina, and people were becoming so outraged with the Bush/Cheney administration's lack of caring and responsiveness.

            Jon Husted is a dick.

            by anastasia p on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 12:06:18 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  the myopia is strong (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Victor Ward, NYFM, Black and Blue

      There was no "smackdown" just an embarrassing internet catfight that made both Musk and Broder look silly.

      The article doesn't talk about a "trade war".  It just points out that Canada's government is staunchly on the side of the pipeline and a Presidential veto wouldn't be without repercussions.

  •  The majority of Canadians, however, would be happy (12+ / 0-)

    Support for unlimited tar-sands development is focused largely in Alberta, and in the Federal government (which was elected with only 38% support.)

    In eastern and central Canada, most people blame tar-sands exploitation for artificially inflating the Canadian dollar and devastating manufacturing sector.  The so-called Dutch Disease.    

    We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both. - Former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis

    by RageKage on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 09:23:15 AM PST

  •  Is this Broder jerk related (0+ / 0-)

    to the late, 'great' Dave Broder? n/t

    Some people make u want to change species! --ulookarmless, quoted w/his permission: RIP good man.

    by orlbucfan on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 09:56:19 AM PST

  •  Excellent. It might also be good to keep.. (10+ / 0-)

    ...reminding readers of how Canada's current government has gone way way way off the rails on environmental issues, as you explained so very well in this diary on Friday.

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 09:58:46 AM PST

  •  Never mentioned is virtually all Keystone oil (12+ / 0-)

    would be exported from the U.S. after refining.

    I was stunned at the failure of the Times to mention this in the article.

    I read all the comments, many from Canadians, and they pointed out things that Broder and the Times did not, including the fact that most of the oil would be exported and,
    contrary to the article's assertion that "unions" support the pipeline, that several of the larger unions, like SEIU, oppose it.

    Thank you for calling attention to this.

    Resist much, obey little. ~~Edward Abbey, via Walt Whitman

    by willyr on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 10:03:14 AM PST

    •  Broder's arguments (5+ / 0-)

      follow talking points from ALEC, TransCanada, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, and American Petroleum Institute to the letter.

      Be radical in your compassion.

      by DWG on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 10:14:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  read the article, it's pretty short (0+ / 0-)
        On Sunday, thousands rallied near the Washington Monument to protest the pipeline and call for firmer steps to fight emissions of climate-changing gases.
        Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, predicted that Mr. Obama would veto the $7 billion project because of the adverse effects development of the Canadian oil sands would have on the global climate.
        Opponents say that the expansion of oil production in shale fields across the country has already reduced the need for imports. Environmentalists have singled out the pipeline because it would carry oil derived from tar sands, in a process that is dirtier than other forms of oil production and that releases more carbon dioxide.
        Why comment if you can't be bothered to read the article?
    •  i don't know how to square those numbers (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      willyr

      If we're talking about reducing oil imports, does crude imported into this country, refined, and then sold on the global market count as imported oil?

  •  Meanwhile, across the pond there (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DWG, KenBee, Laconic Lib

    is work to do as well...Germany and Spain will be reducing subsidies to alternative fuels. As per the WSJ, they just voted for scaling back on the money used to support these new technologies. Now is not a good time to slow the fight, Germany!

    http://online.wsj.com/...

  •  The Canadian Angle seems legit (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NYFM, Black and Blue

    I oppose the Keystone pipeline, mainly on the grounds that we shouldn't do anything that will embolden those who would exploit Canada's oil-sands.  Economically, it looks like a tiny short-term stimulus and a big wet kiss to the fossil fuel industry.

    The economic benefits and ecological costs of Keystone have been raked over the coals quite a bit, but this (as the author points out -- without irony) is one of the only articles I have seen on the subject that talks about how it plays against our relationship with Canada.  I think that's very worthwhile.  

    While Broder may not be an environmental advocate, the article pits US environmental concerns against Canada's economic interests.  That seems legit to me.

    And it's a worthwhile point to make.  Canada's government may be unpopular (as stated in a comment above this one), but as long as they are in charge, pissing them off is a cost that we should examine thoroughly and prepare for before we do it.  

    After all, blindly pursuing our nation's agenda against the will of our allies is something only Republicans do, right?

  •  so (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DWG, Leftcandid, Laconic Lib

    this guy is the new Judith Miller, eh? this can't keep happening by accident...? come on NYTimes. come on.

    Shout golden shouts!

    by itsbenj on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 10:34:57 AM PST

  •  This is exactly the way "serious people" on both (5+ / 0-)

    sides think about the issue. As if things like "jobs" and "trade" stack up well alongside whether or not the planet is very habitable in a few short decades. That's what passes for "serious" around the water cooler, because how else you gonna pay for that trip to Disneyworld? I mean, the kids are only young once, right?

    The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries. -WiA "When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill..." - PhilJD

    by Words In Action on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 10:36:14 AM PST

  •  Why I stopped subscribing to NYTimes! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DWG

    Very dubious coverage of climate, energy  and environmental issues.

  •  I thought part of the project was going to be (0+ / 0-)

    refining the stuff  into more usable products down in Houston or thereabouts.

    That would seem to generate a few jobs.

    So far as I can tell, the argument is about whether a few Americans should be able to get jobs or whether Canadians should have them.

    Until and unless the Canadians decide not to exploit the tar sands, the product is going to go somewhere by some means.

    Frankly, all of the energy and effort would be better spent putting a stop to fracking in the big shale formations. That might actually have an impact on the real problem of global warming -- not to mention head of serious environmental consequences caused by the fracking itself.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 11:27:29 AM PST

  •  The pipeline is pointless only if (0+ / 0-)

    its construction and North American energy independence does not lead to an immediate drawdown in the US military presence in the Arab world, counterproductive support for US friendly dictatorships there, and the reulting & ongoing creation of backlash terror against which the US, we are told, must engage in a never ending war.

    If Keystone and US energy independence ends the carnage and imperialist foreign policy that creates terror that we then must waste lives & resources fighting, then I would support approving it.  If we are going to continue with our mindless foreign & national security policies anyway, I would oppose it.

    I would take issue with the following contentions in this diary.  First, of course increased oil supply from anywhere lowers prices.  To state otherwise is akin to denying gravity exists. Prices would be going up faster in the absence of tar sands oil.  The author then goes on to cite a Cornell study and implies a new source of oil (the pipeline) will actually increase prices?  Huh?  In what universe does supply & demand work like that?

    Keystone is no doubt about climate change but it, and the rest of the energy independence agenda, should also be about radical changes to our foreign military occupations , support for Arab dictators, and policies that foster the very terrorism against which we are told we must wage endless war. I'd like to hear the Administration's views on how a Keystone Pipeline & other efforts to eliminate reliance on Middle East oil will alter our counter productive foreign/national security policies.  All I hear from Obama & Co is crickets on this.

    BTW, why is dealing with Venezuela such a horrific notion?  They are not an enemy. Oil from Venezuela is not a bad thing in itself, any more than oil from Canada. Moving away from fossil fuels is urgently important but until then anything that helps put an end to our never ending wars is in my view a good thing.

    •  Ho hum (0+ / 0-)

      Stop the babble about Arab dictatorships. It makes you sound like Islamophobic. Imports from OPEC represent less than 20% of our oil supply and the fraction is dropping. We import the same amount of oil from the Middle East now as we did in 1992. Instability in these countries will have an impact on global oil prices, but not because of the amount we are importing.

      I cited the Cornell study. Did you read it? The job loss potential comes from any leaks in the pipeline and spikes in oil prices. I quote the summary but do read the whole thing before offering an opinion. I assume you realize the existing Keystone pipeline was shut down in 2011 after 14 leaks. The Enbridge pipeline also suffered several catastrophic leaks that stopped flow.

      Your understanding of supply and demand in oil pricing is interesting. Oil prices are set by global market benchmarks. The increased supply of oil from Canada has had little effect on US prices. The fake argument being used by oil company shills is that it will lower prices in the US. Bullshit. The prices are set in global commodity markets, not locally.

      Global oil price increases have been driven by the fact that global production has not kept up with skyrocketing global demand, primarily from Asia. Demand is the US and Europe has been flat.

      Your understanding of the impact of tar sands is also amusing. Tar sands oil will always cost more to produce than conventional oil. That is why the oil benchmark price had to reach around $80 before they became commercially viable. Tar sands oil will never be cheap. The energy return on investment is lousy.

      I never said anything about importing oil from Venezuela being a bad thing. I merely pointed that the talking point about tar sands oil displacing oil from Venezuela was bullshit.

      Be radical in your compassion.

      by DWG on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 12:53:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Increased supply = downward price pressure (0+ / 0-)

        the fact that it costs $80 ( more accurately $60/barrel) to produce does not change the fact that when oil > $80 tar sands oil exerts downward pressure on oil prices. As you note, "[g]lobal oil price increases have been driven by the fact that global production has not kept up with skyrocketing global demand, primarily from Asia."  Increased supply from anywhere in what is so obviously a global market  that even you recognize it lowers prices. Lower prices globally means lower prices in the US.  Last time I checked the US shares the same globe as everyone else.

        What "babble" about Arab dictatorship?  The US supports the Saudi royals & host of other awful Arab govts and the reason is OIL.  That support & accompanying military occupations in Arab countries are a significant cause of terrorist backlash. Always has been. It's not babble unless you've had your head in the sand for the last 50 years.  And how does questioning US support for dictators Arab or otherwise render one an Islamaphobe?  Moronic comment. Are you seriously contending that our military role in the Iraq and the Gulf region generally is not due to oil? Carter doctrine, Clinton doctrine?  Ever hear of those? All about insuring middle east oil gets to US as mid0east oil long has been pivotal supply.  If North American oil makes it non-pivotal the long stated justifications for those doctrines goes away.

        I did not read nor will I read the Cornell Study.  I read your diary in which you, not Cornell,  imply from yoru summary of that study that a new pipeline will increase prices.  Absurd no matter who states it. It is your diary I commented upon not Cornell's study. In addition, the energy return on investment is lousy only in comparison to Saudi oil which can be produced at $5 a barrel, and only if you ignore all the wars, military occcupations and lost lives that are never factored into that $5/barrel production "cost." If the energy return on investment was as bad as you claim the oil companies would not be producing it.  Corporations are not out to lose money.

        I actually agreed with your initial criticism of Broder's comment about the Canadian oil displacing Venezuelan crude.  As regards your current comment, I disagree that Broder's contention was BS, it is not.  Rather, it is completely beside the point. Unlike Broder, I see little benefit in displacing Venezuelan imports while I see huge potential benefits to eliminating reliance on mid-east oil.  

    •  In addition (0+ / 0-)

      The oil extracted from the tar sands does not come cheap. The energy return on investment for tar sands is very high - meaning it's very expensive to extract it - much more than from conventional oil wells.

      That means that it requires a relatively high price of oil per barrel to make it worthwhile to extract.

      So no, the additional oil won't bring prices down.

      “Better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference.” -- FDR, 1936

      by SolarMom on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 12:58:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It doesn't have to come cheap (0+ / 0-)

        it only has to be produced at a cost lower than market price for producers to profit.

        Moreover, the "cost" of conventional oil never includes the wars, military occupations, & resulting loss of lives etc. that are "necessary" to insure steady flow of Gulf oil.  Those costs have for a long time been successfully socialized to each US taxpayer & citizen for as long as  I have been alive. The point of my comment was the potential for energy independence to end that ongoing horrific subsidy.

        •  I understand that (0+ / 0-)

          I was responding to the assertion that tar sands oil would bring gas prices down by adding to the overall oil supply.

          Gas prices would have to be quite a bit higher than they are now for that to happen, as the EROI for tar sand production is too high.

          I don't think we're really disagreeing. I was trying to add clarity, but I guess I didn't do a good enough job with my first comment.

          I agree with your second paragraph as well.

          “Better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference.” -- FDR, 1936

          by SolarMom on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 04:14:13 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

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