Keystone Won’t Be Finished Until 2016. Here’s What That Means.

President Obama speaks at a pipeyard for the southern leg of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
National Journal
Alex Brown
Add to Briefcase
Alex Brown
Nov. 20, 2013, 7:15 a.m.

Tran­sCanada ac­know­ledged Tues­day that the Key­stone XL Pipeline — even if ap­proved — will not be op­er­a­tion­al un­til 2016. It’s the latest ad­mis­sion that the pro­ject, long stalled in the fed­er­al ap­prov­al pro­cess, is los­ing rel­ev­ance. The pipeline has been a flash­point of con­tro­versy for en­vir­on­ment­al­ists and in­dustry lead­ers, but as the ad­min­is­tra­tion has drawn out its re­views, the pipeline’s sig­ni­fic­ance from an en­ergy stand­point has faded.

Oil-by-rail trans­port­a­tion has filled the gap in re­cent years where pipelines have met delays. The amount of oil shipped as U.S. train cargo has doubled in the past two years, and Canada is ex­port­ing oil bar­rels in the six fig­ures daily after ship­ping just mar­gin­al amounts a year ago. One oil ex­ec­ut­ive told Na­tion­al Journ­al the rail boom and new pipeline al­tern­at­ives have rendered Key­stone non­es­sen­tial as a trans­port­er of U.S. oil.

The spike in oil ship­ment al­tern­at­ives has come largely over the past two years, and it’s likely to con­tin­ue to ex­pand in the two years it would take to build Key­stone. “Rail has a first-mover ad­vant­age as a trans­port meth­od for crude oil,” con­ceded An­drew Black, pres­id­ent of the As­so­ci­ation of Oil Pipe Lines. “Rail can gain mar­ket share while pipelines race to catch up.” Left un­said is that the pipeline “catch-up” can be stalled by fed­er­al policy, not just con­struc­tion time.

Mean­while, en­vir­on­ment­al groups have taken heat for fo­cus­ing ef­forts on the pipeline. New York Magazine‘s Jonath­an Chait called the fight “mar­gin­ally rel­ev­ant to the cause of stop­ping glob­al warm­ing,” not­ing that the pipeline would con­trib­ute just a few tenths of a per­cent to U.S. green­house-gas emis­sions, while coal-plant emis­sions are far lar­ger.

But that isn’t likely to keep green groups from con­tinu­ing the fight. An In­ter­na­tion­al En­ergy Agency re­port re­leased earli­er this month found that con­struc­tion of the pipeline would cause tar-sands pro­duc­tion to double by 2035. The ad­ded en­vir­on­ment­al and cli­mate costs of that ex­tra pro­duc­tion has ad­ded fuel to the fire of en­vir­on­ment­al­ists’ ar­gu­ments.

No one doubts that Obama’s de­cision on Key­stone will pro­voke heated re­sponses from a vari­ety of stake­hold­ers. But, in­creas­ingly, the volume of the de­bate isn’t matched by the sig­ni­fic­ance of the pro­ject.

What We're Following See More »
WOULD HAVE BEEN HIS SECOND STINT
Howard Dean Pulls out of DNC Race
43 minutes ago
THE LATEST

Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor and Democratic National Committee chair, announced he's pulling out of the running to regain the chairman's post. Dean "announced in a pre-recorded video to a conference of state Democratic chairs that he would step aside to allow for a new face to lead the party as it seeks to rebuild."

Source:
RUBENSTEIN FUNDING ELEVATOR REPAIR
Washington Monument Closed until 2019
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Once again, businessman and philanthropist David M. Rubenstein has come through for the National Park Service. This time, he's pledged funding needed to modernize the Washington Monument's elevator-- but the monument will remain closed until 2019 while repairs and improvements are underway. Rubenstein's donation of between $2-3 million, announced Friday, will correct those ongoing elevator issues, which have shuttered the monument since August 17."

Source:
$618 BILLION IN FUNDING
By a Big Margin, House Passes Defense Bill
5 hours ago
THE DETAILS

The National Defense Authorization Act passed the House this morning by a 375-34 vote. The bill, which heads to the Senate next week for final consideration, would fund the military to the tune of $618.7 billion, "about $3.2 billion more than the president requested for fiscal 2017. ... The White House has issued a veto threat on both the House and Senate-passed versions of the bill, but has not yet said if it will sign the compromise bill released by the conference committee this week."

Source:
FILED BY JILL STEIN
Michigan Attorney General Sues to End Recount
6 hours ago
THE LATEST

Bill Schuette, Michigan's attorney general, has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the state to halt the recount of the state's voting results. The recount was elected by Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Schuette says the recount shouldn't occur because Stein cited no evidence of voter fraud or tabulation error.

Source:
SUCCEEDS UPTON
Walden to Chair Energy and Commerce Committee
6 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Republicans have elected Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) the next chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee. Walden defeated Reps. John Shimkus (R-IL) and Joe Barton (R-TX), the former committee chairman, in the race for the gavel" to succeed Michgan's Fred Upton.

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login