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Keystone XL: A Partial Presidential About Face

March 26, 2012 by Bernard L. Weinstein

At the 4% Growth Project, we’ve been closely monitoring the progress, or lack of same, on permitting and building the Keystone XL pipeline (read about it here and here). Last January, President Obama refused to approve the project pending further review of its environmental impacts. In fact, the safety and environmental issues had been studied for several years by state and federal regulatory agencies with no adverse findings. But the President wanted to placate his “green” constituents who were upset by his decision a few weeks earlier to approve new drilling in the Arctic Ocean. Then a few days ago, President Obama did a partial about face. Standing in front of a stack of pipeline sections in Cushing, Oklahoma, he announced he would order the expediting of the southern section of the Keystone XL to connect the Cushing crude oil storage facility to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico.  But this may simply have been another exercise in political opportunism in line with Mr. Obama’s recently articulated “all-of-the-above” energy strategy. Yes, building the southern segment of the pipeline may help relieve the bottleneck at Cushing and allow Texas and Louisiana refineries to process domestic crude rather than imports from Venezuela and Mexico. But, presidential approval wasn’t actually required for this leg of the pipeline. Connecting Alberta’s oil sands to the U.S. crude oil distribution network is the critical part of Keystone XL, and this project is still off the table. The President’s newly-found enthusiasm for “Keystone-South” does nothing to enhance America’s long-term energy security or to boost the nation’s economic growth.


Author

Bernard L. Weinstein
Bernard L. Weinstein

Bernard L. Weinstein is Associate Director of the Maguire Energy Institute and an Adjunct Professor of Business Economics in the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University. He has taught at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the State University of New York, the University of Texas at Dallas, and the University of North Texas. He has authored or co-authored numerous books, monographs, and articles on the subjects of economic development, energy security, public policy, and taxation. His work has appeared in professional journals as well as the popular press. He earned an A.B. degree from Dartmouth College and an M.A. and a Ph.D. in economics from Columbia University.

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