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Maclean’s roundtable: On the big decisions that link Obama and Harper

Elana Shor, David McLaughlin and Paul Boothe discuss


 

Evan Vucci/AP

Here’s a discussion of the big decisions, intimately linked, facing two leaders: Barack Obama’s coming yay-or-nay on the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline; and Stephen Harper’s overdue emissions regulations for the petroleum industry.

Joining Maclean’s political editor Paul Wells through the magic of email are Elana Schor, a staff reporter at Environment & Energy Daily and Greenwire in Washington;  David McLaughlin, a former Chief of Staff to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty who served as the last President and CEO of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy before the federal government shut that organization down; and Paul Boothe, Director of the Lawrence National Centre for Policy and Management at the Richard Ivey School of Business, Western University. Boothe served as Canada’s federal deputy minister of the environment from 2010-2012.

Paul Wells

Thanks for joining us, folks. I was struck by something Elana Schor said on Twitter on Wednesday morning. Two big decisions face the governments of Canada and the United States. Both are delayed.

In Ottawa, the Harper government has to propose emissions regulations for the petroleum industry. Those emissions rules are the centrepiece of the Canadian government’s global-warming strategy, to the extent it still has any, and it’s pretty clear they’re key to nailing down Barack Obama’s approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. But the emissions regulations, which were expected by the end of 2012, have now been delayed repeatedly. Meanwhile Obama’s decision on Keystone has been delayed too, while he sounds increasingly skeptical that the project has any value. Obama has explicitly linked Canadian performance on carbon emissions to his decision.

Here’s what I want to ask each of you:

David, I know KXL is a White House decision, but to the extent the Harper government can influence it, how do you think they’re doing?

Elana, do you think the delay on emissions regulations and Keystone approval could suggest an attempt by Washington and Ottawa to cut a deal on both? What have you seen that would suggest that’s so?

Paul Boothe, what’s the path forward for petroleum emissions regulations from today?

David McLaughlin:

How is the Harper government doing on influencing KXL? Ask the President. But you asked me, so the answer is “Not well at all.” Of course the Canadians can influence Obama’s decision. They are. But it looks like the wrong way.

This isn’t all their fault. American politics is a political “honey trap” when it comes to Canadian politicians’ views of grand influence. Which makes the Prime Minister’s (he of steely-eyed political sobriety) strategy so utterly perplexing.

The essential problem is that Canada missed its moment. Obama’s pre-election punt on KXL gave time for a gathering storm of climate forces to coalesce. Prior to that, we had a winning argument: energy security. This has been the holy grail of much American rhetoric ever since the OPEC crisis of the mid-1970s. Canada could deliver on that. If Obama had made the decision then, he would have cited that argument most of all. Now, with cheaper shale gas coming on line in the U.S., his re-election behind him, and legacy thoughts ahead, that doesn’t cut as much of a swath anymore.

Canada and the PM are playing in a new frame — environment and climate change — which is an incredibly weak suit for the government. The GoWithCanada campaign featuring pristine panoramas of our natural beauty is not the same as having a robust climate change plan that we can put up and say, “See?”

“No Drama Obama” has injected a fair amount of political drama into the file of late. Why?

It looks like a signal to me: Up your climate game, give me some cover, and your case will be helped. After all, no U.S. President can afford to blithely write off a “worthwhile Canadian initiative” of this scale without contemplating country-to-country impacts.

I think the bigger question is now becoming: will Prime Minister Harper invest any more political capital in this file if he thinks the President won’t bite in the end? After all, whatever new climate measures the government brings forward, they will be written off by Mr. Obama’s climate constituency as insufficient. That never bothered Mr. Harper when it came to Canada. When it comes to the US, that is a whole different calculation.

Elana Schor:

David, I can’t disagree with you that punting the KXL decision until after his re-election has reoriented President Obama’s political incentives more towards making the pipeline into the climate change “symbol” that environmentalists want it to be. But any Canadian parsing the POTUS’ moves would do well to remember that he hasn’t given up on the “post-partisan” ethos of searching for a way to, at least nominally, give something to everyone involved in controversies that cross his desk.

So it’s as meaningful to me that Obama told Democratic senators last week of his hope that Canada can make more progress on oil-sands emissions as it is that he so publicly pooh-poohed KXL’s job-creation potential. I’m not saying there is overt deal-making at play in the simultaneous delay of both KXL and internal Canadian emissions regs — but there may not need to be, as Obama has stated pretty clearly he’d be more inclined to say yes if he had more confidence that the oil sands’ carbon footprint could be trimmed.

As David points out, the “country-to-country” effects of simply nixing KXL give Obama every reason to prolong the process. Could he wait until mid-2014, when his own domestic emissions agenda is further along in the US, and then declare that he had given Canada enough time to form a workable plan, that KXL’s goose is cooked? Possibly. But much depends on other moving pieces of the Washington chessboard (and how closely the Harper government is perceived as aligning with US Republicans’ quest to strip Obama of power over KXL, I’d add).

Paul Boothe:

The practicalities of regulation-making in the two countries makes the co-ordination of regulatory outcomes pretty difficult. In Canada, the formal process begins with a Notice of Intent (NOI) published in the the government’s official “newspaper,” the Canada Gazette. The NOI is followed by informal consultations with stakeholders and then publication of a draft regulation and impact analysis. Stakeholders are invited to submit comments in writing on the draft regulation. After the comment period ends, the government considers the stakeholder comments (and perhaps conducts more informal consultations) and publishes a final regulation and impact analysis along with responses to the written comments. Its also worth remembering that regulations generally don’t take effect immediately. The “coming into force” date may be two or three years in the future, depending on how long it will take regulatees to prepare to comply with the new rules.

No NOI for regulation of oil and gas industry GHGs has been published yet. So far we have only seen informal consultations between the government, the industry and some provinces. So it would probably be a year or more before a final regulation could be passed. The government could, in theory, bypass its own regulatory process, but that might not inspire much confidence south of the border. Such a move would certainly leave it open to criticism and, perhaps, legal challenge in Canada. Finally, even the publication of draft regulation does not give much certainty about the final outcome. In past regulatory processes like the one for coal-fired electricity GHGs, the final regulation differed substantially from the initial draft.

David McLaughlin:

I find Elana’s and Paul Boothe’s comments both cogent and revealing. Put them together and a KXL “fix” is not as simple as it sounds. Process is policy here and timelines for getting new climate-friendly regs in place that may be placatory on the pipelines are not as straightforward as some suggest. Even then, as much as the President might want to use approval of KXL as a means of leveraging more climate action by Canada, the political and the regulatory time lines need to coincide. That is rarely the case.

What seems undeniable, though, is that the initiative on getting KXL approved has passed from Canada to the United States. Perhaps this was always so, but we have clearly invested a fair amount of ministerial time-on-task, and now advertising dollars, to promote the Canadian position. Even then, we have often seemed a step or two behind at important junctures. Sure, it’s an American process not a Canadian one. But we have had a fair amount of experience — bittersweet for sure — on just how political and arbitrary that can be. You can’t get ahead of the curve if you keep your heels stuck in the ground.

Paul Wells:

Everything I read from you guys makes me think that there is no co-ordination between the White House and the PMO on a regs-for-pipeline Grand Deal. If there is, we’ll find out, and Obama and Harper will look like strategic geniuses. But in that alternate universe, I’ll still wonder why Obama spent months publicly badmouthing a pipeline he planned to approve, in front of the very Democratic base audiences that would hold it against him if he crossed them. It makes no sense. I don’t buy it.

Instead, Harper continues his strategy of foot-dragging on climate-change policy — a strategy that hasn’t particularly hurt his domestic political chances since the 2008 election — while Obama tries, very belatedly, to influence events in a Northern neighbour country he mostly ignored until this spring. They’re similar men in so many ways: aloof, allergic to deadlines and stakes-raising. But it’s opposites that attract, and these two seem simply to have mutually dismissed each other.

Paul Boothe:

There is another important link between the two countries’ climate change policy that hasn’t been mentioned yet. Namely, both have the same targets for reducing greenhouse gases by 2020.

In 2009 in Copenhagen, Prime Minister Harper pledged to reduce Canada’s emissions by 17 per cent by 2020, matching the commitment of President Obama. Back then, the betting was for an economy-wide cap-and-trade system in the U.S. to meet the target. That proposal failed in Congress, but the cheap natural gas revolution and stringent air quality regulation by the EPA have led some experts to suggest that the U.S. is on track to meet its 2020 target even without cap and trade.

In Canada, the situation is different. We don’t have as much electricity generated by coal and the new federal regulations that will lead to the phasing out of coal-fired generating plants in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Atlantic Canada won’t have much effect until after 2020.

Current estimates are that we about half-way to closing the gap between business-as-usual emissions in 2020 and our target. Much of the heavy lifting has come from provincial actions like Ontario’s decision to close its coal-fired generating plants, B.C.’s carbon tax and a number of Quebec measures. Federal regulations of car and light truck emissions (in concert with the U.S.) have helped too.

The oil and gas sector is the only major emitter of GHGs that remains unregulated in Canada. Thus to fulfill his Copenhagen promise using regulations, the Prime Minister needs ambitious reductions in oil and gas sector emissions. So there is a lot at stake in this regulatory round. As soon as we see the draft regulations for oil and gas sector emissions, we will know if Canada has a chance of meeting the Prime Minister’s 2020 pledge announced in Copenhagen.

Elana Schor:

Since I inadvertently kicked off this dialogue by observing that KXL and Canada’s oil sands emissions regs both remain unresolved, I should mention what launched that train of thought: A source inside Obama’s meeting with Democratic senators last week said that the president independently raised the prospect of asking Canada to spend some of its profits from the pipeline — the economic benefit that would come from getting Alberta oil to tidewater — on fighting climate change. Does this mean the tradeoff has to come in the form of stronger oil sands rules that, as I now understand from David, are not on the formal glide path to coincide with a KXL permit? No. But I remain unconvinced that the president is not looking for a reason to say yes, and I would not describe Obama’s jobs comments as “publicly badmouthing” Keystone XL. I’m not as familiar with the prime minister’s personality, but in addition to Obama’s deadline allergy, he also likes nothing more than a good intellectual case for a decision — and when it comes to the pipeline, it appears he just hasn’t heard a strong argument (yet) that it’s in the U.S. national interest to approve.

One point on Paul Boothe’s observation above about Canada and America’s differing paths toward the same GHG reduction targets: The same shale-drilling techniques helping the U.S. cut its footprint through natural gas are also dimming the prospects for KXL by tapping tight oil deposits here at home. But a lot of the U.S. media errs by describing light, tight shale oil and Canadian oil sands crude as apples-to-apples competitors. The truth is more complicated, with many refineries still eager for extra heavy oil capacity to increase their diesel production — a move that might not affect U.S. gas prices but does help its trade deficit. Simply put, there’s no reason that Canada won’t hang on as America’s No. 1 foreign oil supplier, and even send significant volumes of oil sands south … whether that supply comes from KXL is what remains to be seen.


 

Maclean’s roundtable: On the big decisions that link Obama and Harper

  1. How about if Alberta unilaterally tightened its regs (increased from $15/tonne on 12% reduction target to $40/tonne on 40% reduction target) – to be spent on more aggressive GHG reduction efforts within the province, as was floated in the G&M some months ago? Good enough cover for the Prez?

    [And let the BC and QC premiers claim quid pro quo for endorsing alternate pipeline options]

    Seems like it would only take some push from the captains of industry to make it happen – the ones with the biggest financial stake in the success of Keystone etc. pipelines.

    • Alberta can say anything. She just never does it.

    • if the oil and gas company bribes them… then who cares about the emission…or the KXL thing…..and regulations hurts companies… so thats wat they are very likely to do~~

  2. A lack of pipelines and infrastructure is causing 4.5 megatons of CO2 to be emitted annually in North Dakota as oil producers flare natural gas at an alarming rate. This practice is illegal in Canada for quite a while and speaks to Canada’s commitment to developing these resources as responsibly as possible. In addition, clear cut practices in federal forest in the US continues to occur. Worried about GHG Mr. Obama? Perhaps you should fix your own house before throwing stones. Decades of unloading crude on the east coast and inland ports in Canada and offshore drilling has resulted in little oil being spilled. Forgoing profit to do the right thing is a cultural attitude. Canadians, by and large, appreciate and honour Mother Earth, especially Albertans!

    • [A lack of pipelines and infrastructure is causing 4.5 megatons of CO2 to
      be emitted annually in North Dakota as oil producers flare natural gas
      at an alarming rate. This practice is illegal in Canada for quite a while and speaks to
      Canada’s commitment to developing these resources as responsibly as
      possible.]

      Your comparison is faulty:

      [On April 26, 2013, North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple signed House
      Bill No. 1134 (HB 1134) into law, amending the state’s flaring and oil
      and gas production tax statutes to promote reduction of natural gas
      flaring at the state’s oil and gas wells.]

      http://www.leonard.com/alert/oil-and-gas-alert-collecting-resource-north-dakota-gas-flaring-laws-amended

      And Alberta?
      [In the farming country of northwest Alberta, heavy oil wells are becoming more common than cattle and combines. Along with money and jobs, the boom has brought smells and fumes that are adding to the greenhouse gas emissions from Canada’s oil sands.

      Emissions from flaring, or burning of natural gas, methane and hydrogen sulphide associated with oil production, have risen in each of the last three years as drillers increased activity and the government failed to implement new industry targets.

      “There’s no new absolute target to reduce flare or vent emissions,” said James Vaughan, who works at the Alberta Energy Conservation Board’s surveillance branch, in an interview. “The economics for conserving gas just doesn’t seem to be there” because of a decline in natural gas prices.][…]

      http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-18/alberta-s-oil-sands-raise-flaring-emissions-as-rules-lag.html

      I could continue, but somehow I know it would be wasted on a sycophant.

      • I’m presently on my way home through AB and while I can’t say how wide spread it is, I can say I’ve seen flaring.
        His other point about clear cutting is also a joke, I’ve seen plenty of those through out BC this summer also.

        • kcm2, still hard aground on that lee shore……..heh.

      • The Dakota’s are brighter than Manhattan and the Eastern seaboard form space at night. Alberta isn’t. The regulation of flaring in North Dakota is far weaker than in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

      • Don’t know where you get your facts but the Alberta Energy Conservation Board is an old agency name. Forget you convenient articles, come to Canada and see for yourself. Then fly over North Dakota and then fly over Lloydminster and the amount of flaring taking place is clear. I will concede Lloydminster does smell like oil but not more so than Montreal. Canadians do respect the environment!

    • not a problem as long as money goes to those ppl’s account

  3. If there was a will, legislation for cap and trade system (as opposed to regulation) to reduce oil sand’s carbon emissions could be passed immediately in a majority parliament. But there is no will, so there is no way. The conservatives will goto the wall against Obama because remaining true to their ideology on climate is more important than making the mitigation concessions necessary to get Keystone permitted. This odd conservative penchant for sacrificing throughput and profit on the altar of ideology is something that every oil sands shareholder currently swimming in red ink should remember during the next federal election.

    • “The conservatives will goto the wall against Obama because remaining true to their ideology on climate is more important than making the mitigation concessions necessary to get Keystone permitted.”

      No, you mean their ideology on getting re-elected/avoiding an election at the moment (after scandals in the news). The Harper Government doesn’t believe in climate change/global warming.

  4. “Canada and the PM are playing in a new frame — environment and climate change — which is an incredibly weak suit for the government. The GoWithCanada campaign featuring pristine panoramas of our natural beauty is not the same as having a robust climate change plan that we can put up and say, “See?”

    Bingo!
    It may even come down to the rawest of supra national politics…Obama wants to be seen as doing something legacywise on CC, but neither him or Harper have a good record on moving the CC ball…guess who’s going to take the fall in N America? On top of which the ideological gulf between the two is finally showing. Fanciful ? Most likely.
    I could even feel some sympathy for Harper if I didn’t think he’s getting everything he deserves; and most Likely from someone who plays an even meaner game of political ball then he does.

  5. Obviously we’ll again have to send Bruce Carson west with
    gummint bucks tumbling out of his pockets to revive his sales
    job on behalf of Oil (subspecies: Ethical and Freedom ) cuz
    the poor dears apparently can’t afford to fund it themselves.

  6. Can Congress overrule Obama on the Keystone XL pipeline?

    By Juliet Eilperin, Published: April 10 at 1:05 pmE-mail the writer

    As the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power
    takes up legislation Wednesday to force approval of the Keystone XL
    pipeline extension, the bill raises a key question: can Congress wrest
    the Keystone decision away from President Obama?

    The answer: Neither side knows exactly, but depending on the legislative language, Congress could very well pull it off.

    The
    Northern Route Approval Act, the subject of Wednesday’s hearing, would
    grant TransCanada a permit to build a 1,179-mile pipeline between
    Hardisty, Alberta, and Steele City, Okla., to ship crude oil from
    Canada’s oil sands region. The company is moving ahead with the
    project’s 485-mile southern leg — known as the Gulf Coast Project,
    between Steele City and Port Arthur, Tex. — which is two-thirds built and has all the necessary federal permits.

    The State Department
    is in the midst of an extensive environmental and national interest
    review of the pipeline, which supporters say will help meet America’s
    energy and economic needs, and which opponents say will accelerate
    climate change. That review will continue for several months, and the
    president is expected to make a final decision by either the late summer
    or early fall.

    Congress tried to force Obama’s hand more than a year ago on this:
    they imposed a February 2012 deadline on the president for a final
    decision,
    and in response he rejected the permit, arguing it did not provide his
    deputies with enough time to do a full review of the project.

    While the new House bill could face a similar problem if it passes
    both chambers before Obama rules on the permit, the more salient
    question is what would happen if the president rejects TransCanada’s
    permit application and the House and Senate respond by passing a bill by
    veto-proof majorities that effectively grants the pipeline a permit.

    “Congress could still deem it approved,” Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.), the bill’s author, told reporters Tuesday.

  7. Energy Policy: A billionaire hedge fund manager and Barack
    Obama donor is pushing the president to stop the pipeline that would
    compete with one he’s invested in. That pipeline could send Canadian oil
    to China.

    Environmental activist Tom Steyer donated as much as he could to get
    Massachusetts Rep. Ed Markey elected to the Senate in the recent special
    election to fill the seat vacated by now-Secretary of State John Kerry.
    He wanted another senator who’s opposed to completing the Keystone XL
    pipeline that he says would be an environmental plague on the planet.

    A few days before President Obama said that Keystone XL would be
    built only if it could be shown to have no net effect on greenhouse gas
    emissions, Steyer, a major contributor to Obama’s campaigns, urged the
    president to kill the project.

    “We really cannot afford 40 to 50 years of development of a humongous
    oil reserve that’s twice as bad — soup to nuts — as normal crude,”
    Steyer told a gathering at the National Press Club, referring to
    Canada’s extraction of crude from its oil sands in Alberta.

    Steyer has mounted an extensive campaign to kill Keystone, yet he
    owes his personal fortune to a lifetime of investments in oil, gas and
    pipeline companies. He stands to reap another financial reward through
    the extensive investments his hedge fund, Farallon Capital Management,
    has made over the last 27 years in fossil fuel companies. These include
    holdings that could benefit from the blocking of the Keystone pipeline.

    Farallon has made millions for its investors, and left Steyer with a
    net worth estimated by Forbes at $1.4 billion. One of Farallon’s biggest
    holdings is in U.S. pipeline company Kinder Morgan, which has plans to
    expand a major competitor to Keystone — the TransMountain pipeline.

    Steyer has also lobbied against Northern Gateway, which would carry
    oil from Edmonton to Kitimat, British Columbia, on Canada’s west coast.
    Curiously, he is not opposed to TransMountain, which Kinder Morgan has
    sought approval to expand.

    If that expansion is approved, TransMountain will be the only
    available outlet for Alberta crude. If Keystone XL is killed, it will
    leave TransMountain as the only game in town for transporting oil
    directly from the oil sands to export terminals, up to 900,000 barrels a
    day. And most of that oil will be shipped west to China.

    Steyer stepped down as Farallon’s CEO late last year to focus on
    political and environmental activism. In his newfound fervor to go
    “green,” he says he’s directed the fund to divest him of all positions
    in oil and coal, including Kinder Morgan. But it appears that process is
    painstakingly slow. Meanwhile, his holdings increase in value as
    Keystone remains in limbo.

    Steyer would not be the first Obama donor to profit from the
    president’s energy policies. Obama’s favorite one-percenter, Warren
    Buffett, made a good investment when he bought Burlington Northern Santa
    Fe in 2010 for $26.5 billion. With the explosive development of the
    Bakken shale formation centered in North Dakota, its oil riches are
    shipped south on Buffett’s railroad in dangerous tank cars.

    Last year’s spike in oil production from shale caused a 46% increase
    in petroleum shipments for Burlington. For 2013, Burlington forecast a
    40% increase in crude shipments. The Keystone XL pipeline would put a
    hole in Buffett’s bottom line.

    According to the Energy Policy Research Foundation, TransCanada was
    “looking to expand the Keystone XL capability by offering Bakken oil
    producers located in Montana and North Dakota a chance to link into the
    pipeline and send their crude to the Gulf Coast refineries for the first
    time.”

    As Al Gore has found out, saving the earth can also “green” your bank account.

  8. TRIPLETT: Railroading the Keystone XL pipeline

    An Obama-Buffett connection could keep crude rolling by rail

    By William C. Triplett II

    Wednesday, June 19, 2013

    The rumors had been circulating in Washington for weeks, but Bloomberg
    brought it above the waterline on Thursday: “At closed-door fundraisers

    held over the past few weeks, the president has been telling Democratic
    Party donors that he will unveil new climate proposals in July.” Just
    to make certain no one missed her message, the Bloomberg
    reporter used the word “fundraiser” twice in the article and “donor”
    five times. She did not make any direct mention of President Obama’s
    personal interest in or commitment to the issue.

    In short, Mr. Obama is about to hammer the American energy industry, and he’s doing it for money.

    The
    real elephant in the room is the Keystone XL pipeline project intended
    to bring Canadian oil to American Gulf Coast refineries and the
    resulting products onto the international market. In fact, the title of
    the Bloomberg
    article cited above includes the words “Keystone foes.” Mr. Obama has
    already delayed Keystone, once and a final decision is coming up.

    While Keystone has received a lot of press attention, there are two interrelated aspects that have not yet come to the surface.

    First, as reported by the Dickinson Press in North Dakota on May 15,
    Lynn Helms, the director of the North Dakota Department of Mineral
    Resources, told the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology
    that if Keystone is approved, as it comes south, the pipeline would
    also carry up to 100,000 barrels of sweet North Dakota crude to the
    American refineries, in addition to the heavier Canadian product. As
    North Dakota’s rate of production increases, the state should be
    producing in excess of 800,000 barrels per day by the time Keystone
    passes through, taking at most an eighth of North Dakota’s oil
    production.

    Second, Mr. Helms also told the House committee that the North Dakota Department of Transportation
    estimates moving 100,000 barrels per day by pipeline instead of its
    current mode of transport would result in three to six fewer traffic
    deaths per year and up to 150 fewer traffic injuries. Three to six
    doesn’t sound like a lot in comparison to the U.S. national traffic
    fatalities, but North Dakota has a small population and every death or
    injury avoided is important to families and loved ones, no matter where
    they are.

    What is this “current mode of transport” out for North
    Dakota crude? Rail, a much more expensive mode of oil and gas transport
    than pipelines.

    As production of oil and gas derived from shale
    began in South Texas’ Eagle Ford formation and West Virginia and
    Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Formation, drillers were able to tap into an
    existing pipeline distribution system that went back decades. The shale
    revolution initially overwhelmed the pipeline systems in both places,
    and a lot of Eagle Ford shale gets shipped by rail today, but there are
    thousands of miles of pipelines in place and more are on the way.

    When
    the shale revolution bomb got dropped on North Dakota, there were some
    pipelines but nothing in comparison to Texas, West Virginia or
    Pennsylvania. Even after Keystone, the overwhelming majority of North
    Dakota oil will still leave the state in tank cars for years to come.

    What railroad? For the most part the Burlington, Northern and Santa Fe Railroad.

    Who owns the Burlington, Northern and Santa Fe Railroad? The
    companies of the Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate, controlled by Warren
    Buffett of Omaha, Neb.

    Mr. Buffett’s rail-crude tie-ins don’t end with the railroad.
    Berkshire Hathaway also owns Union Tank Car, one of the biggest makers
    of oil tank railcars.

    How’s the tank car business? Bloomberg
    reported in January, “People who want to ship oil can’t get them,” said
    Toby Kolstad, president of the consultant firm Rail Theory Forecasts
    LL, referring to railcars. “They’re desperate to get anything to move
    crude oil.”

    Running Mr. Buffett’s
    name through the Federal Election Commission data bank reveals page
    after
    page of contributions to Mr. Obama and every conceivable Democratic
    Party-affiliated organization, amounting to uncounted millions. Mr.
    Buffett has been contributing to the Democrats for a long time — decades
    — and it may be entirely coincidental that a lot of Buffett
    cash continued to the flow to the Obama money machine right when Mr.
    Obama delayed Keystone and continues to flow right when he may be
    blocking it permanently. There is no doubt, however, that every day
    Keystone
    is delayed, Berkshire Hathaway makes a lot of money. A chart of dollars
    out of Berkshire Hathaway and into the Democratic National Committee
    would look very ugly.

    Finally,
    as Canada’s ambassador to the United States, Gary Doer, said recently,
    “It isn’t a matter of [whether this] oil comes to the United States.
    It’s a matter of how.” For now, it comes to the United States by rail.

    • And guess who the generous donors were who bought the Obamas their $32 million dollar retirement house on Oahu……………

  9. Without cheap oil the USA is just another country with bankrupt big industry. Big oil found the breaking point at which people just quit spending a few years back and there is no legislation or environmental initiative that will change it. And for those who say we need to just use less, while easy to say and nice to preach, at no time in recorded history has there been a collective drop in standard of living without a major war resulting. We are in a happy little epoch nestled firmly between pre human and post human on this plant no matter how good the environment or climate is so we should just be happy, reduce, re-use and recycle and treat others as we would like to be treated.

  10. Albert oil sands expansion is driving up the price of steel, tires, cement, asphalt etc. This is hitting all other sectors that use these same resources including manufacturers, auto sectors, muncial infrastructure, agriculture, trucking, home builders etc. It is driving up costs at a time when 80% of Canada’s infrastructure needs replacing which hurts taxpayers coast to coast. Why isn’t anyone talking about this? After the Keystone economic models were completed, the US announced it is bumping up domestic oil production and will be self sufficient soon. Where is Transcanada’s economic update to deal with that? Meanwhile, the Deutsch Bank announced that two thirds of the world’s solar power will be subsidy free in 2014. That that makes solar cheaper than coal. In Australia, wind is proven to be cheaper than natural gas. The global community knows oil is expensive to produce and transport. It has never been economically sustainable on it’s own merits which is why taxpayer subsidies were needed. It is an endless bail out that goes against the logic of the free market economy. We need to catch up with the rest of the world and invest in sustainably if we are to protect our nation’s long term economic and national energy security.

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