Keystone: Obama changes the question. (This is big.)


(Sue Ogrocki/AP)

The (small number of) ardent climate-change environmental activists I follow on Twitter were not expecting Barack Obama to say a word about Keystone XL today.

In Washington at a Maclean’s-CPAC shindig in February, I suggested Obama’s inauguration-day mention of “executive action” against climate change might include his decision on the Keystone XL project, among other actions. The smart people on the stage — ambassador Gary Doer, former US embassy official Scotty Greenwood — told me I was being silly, and frankly had me convinced it was so.

And yet today in Washington, as he outlined the executive actions he plans, Obama included tough language on Keystone: no approval if Keystone contributes “significantly” to carbon emissions.

There will now be much parsing. The State Department report, which seemed to clear Keystone, will be dissected, as will the EPA response, which was less encouraging for Keystone’s proponents. But I’m struck by three things.

First, to repeat: Obama did not have to say a word about Keystone today, and even the Canadian activists who are most eager for him to stop the pipeline did not expect him to. He raised the question.

Second, his language was not friendly. He used the term “tar sands,” one the advocates of Canada’s bitumen sector have long argued is, by itself, biased against the “oil sands.” The argument can been made, has been made, will be made again in the days ahead that Keystone is no more a contributor to carbon emissions than an apple crate makes apples. But today Obama was sounding like those activists, including Al Gore, who do the math another way. This government likes to make fun of Al Gore as often as possible. Oh well.

Third, by making Keystone about carbon, Obama changes the question. The approval process until now has focused mostly on the integrity of the pipeline, the route chosen, the threat to the Ogallala aquifer, and so on. It was possible to have a pretty good debate about the merits of the pipeline without even mentioning that it would carry hydrocarbons prepared in a greenhouse-intensive manner. But now Obama has put that consideration at the centre of the decision.

Is this elaborate staging as Obama prepares to approve Keystone? Maybe. But the easiest way to approve it would be with as little fanfare as possible, and that’s not what we saw today.

What can the Harper government do? Perhaps this: Obama said the pipeline’s “net” contribution to carbon emissions would be critical to a decision. Demonstrating that Keystone-related emissions are offset by an aggressive program of carbon emission reductions would meet that test. It needn’t even mean a carbon tax, although it seems pretty clear that if Harper had implemented one of those or a meaningful cap-and-trade system in 2009, Keystone’s chances would today be significantly improved. Regulations with teeth would help too. So far that’s not going well.

Or Harper might prefer to take the loss, the better to portray the oil-sands industry as a victim of global nanny-statism at the next election. This would be the equivalent of his make-lemonade-from-lemons decision to brag, frequently, about how the United Nations didn’t deserve Canada on its Security Council.

But if the prime minister wants Keystone approved, I’m starting to think the government’s Go With Canada website, awesome as it is, won’t cut it.


Keystone: Obama changes the question. (This is big.)

  1. Economics 101. Pipelining to the Gulf States was deemed by the project proponents as being the quickest, cheapest way to develop the oil sands resource.

    If it gets delayed, or denied, then a more expensive /less timely option will be needed.

    Meaning less costly oil sands development (the marginal, more risky projects) drop off the list). Less development.

    • More or less, I meant more costly, not less.

  2. Obama could have approved the pipeline a couple of years ago, but he punted the decision to after the 2012 election. I am convinced Obama does not want to allow the pipeline, he is environmentalist at heart, and the President has no more elections to win now so he can do whatever he likes. Obama keeps on finding reasons to delay the decision, if Americans wanted the pipeline it would have been approved already.

    • Obama has Democratic Senators and Congressmen threatening to overrule him on Keystone, the “o” will fold and approve Keystone, maybe even on July 3rd or some Friday afternoon during the summer.

    • Obama is also supposed to be a constitutional expert, but he allows things like the patriot act which is probably unconstitutional except the US is in a perpetual state ow war that civil liberties are now on hold permanently.
      But for Canadians if the keystone gets rejected it will probably be the best thing in the long term as it will force the industry and the politicians to come up with a better plan that is more comprehensive than shipping crude to US refineries.

    • I hope and pray that you are right. The best thing to do is to leave the dirty tar sands oil in the ground to keep it out of the air when it’s burned, and out of the soil and water when it spills..

  3. It takes a lot to go up against the oil interests, but the US has to change. I wish him well.

    • Why is it that you completely ignore the coal industry?

      • Um….because we’re talking about an oil pipeline?

        • Yet Obama is talking about emissions…

          • Yup, he’s against them. Kinda declared war on coal.

          • Is your neck OK?

          • I’m fine. Enjoy your crow.

          • Har!

            Glad to see there are some constants in life.

          • “Kinda declared war on coal.” Good description. It is very difficult for Obama to set emission targets on piped tarsands oil while continuing to ignore the exponentially higher emissions from coal fired electricity. It might be okay for Robert Redford and his friends to pretend the US isn’t a major producer and exporter of coal but Obama doesn’t really have that option if he is chastising other countries for their emissions records.

          • Nobody is ignoring anything…..Albertans are obsessive about oil, but others are aware of everything that’s involved.

          • Emily, Alberta is a big producer of coal as well.

          • And except that currently we’re discussing an oil pipeline…..

          • Yes and the relationship between emissions and oil while the reality is that the emissions from coal are much, much higher making coal a much smarter target for reduction than oil.

          • They’re both going, so don’t worry about it.

          • For a person with a PhD, you certainly have a simplistic view of the world.

          • Rightwingers don’t understand ‘complicated’ or ‘nuanced’ ……or anymore than black/white, really… I tailor my responses to suit my audience.

          • If you say so “Dr. Emily”.

          • Fine….now back to the actual topic

          • Still pretending to have a PhD, lol. Nuanced from you, rofl. Emily you do not even understand what metric normalization is, let alone the difference between power and energy is. I am still waiting for my nuanced response about reducing carbon emission…

          • And I’m not the topic. Sorry.

          • Good then discuss the topic at hand with some nuance. Though I suspect that is impossible for a pseudo-intellectual as yourself.

          • I already did. Obama looks like he’s about to go up against big oil, and I wish him well because the US has to change.

          • That is a platitude, not a nuanced comment.

          • Well I’m not going to debate established scientific fact like GW and CC. Wells isn’t either….he’s talking about Obama maybe turning down Keystone. That’s the only thing open to spec.

            I’ve never understood why rightwingers think that attacking ME will change science or facts .

          • I am not debating climate science, I fully believe in AGW. What I am asking for is a nuance discussion of how carbon will be reduced. What we prioritize. The capabilities of alternatives. So no, you have not provided anything of value to this discussion. Changing what facts? That transport fuels are a high hanging fruit in the quest to reduce emission? That energy storage is expensive and has too low of a specific energy to displace oil anytime soon? You have no facts or understanding of science. You are a tool to your politics and delusions. Incapable of gathering a set of facts and drawing conclusions, you instead spout out platitudes and ad hominems.

          • Oh lordy, all of those things have been discussed for years. What we need is action. Action is what Wells is writing about

            You are simply trying to attack me again….and it isn’t getting you anywhere.

          • More platitudes. I am only attacking what you write, which are trite, meaningless, and simplistic comments.

            Your answer is pathetic. Those things are being discussed right now. There is no set solution for the transition off fossil fuels. Your implication that the discussion is over shows how ill informed you are.

          • The discussion on AGW and CC existing is long over

            Of course there is no set solution for leaving fossil fuels….we’ve never done it before! LOL

            Like I said, the only question here is if Obama squashes Keystone

            The rest is you boring everyone by attacking me, and that’s just wasting space and everyone’s time

            So ciao, baby.

          • Do you lack basic reading comprehension? I am not discussing AGW, I am discussing how carbon reductions will be achieved. Your attempts at derailing are laughable. You spent a lot of words trying to avoid my questions. I suspect because you are dreadfully ignorant of the subject at hand. Your rhetorical games are quite amusing, you are almost as slippery as a five year old Harper.

            “Like I said, the only question here is if Obama squashes Keystone” Yes and predicting that answer requires one to be informed about how the U.S. plans to reduce emissions. The subject of the question I posed to you.

          • Ciao means goodbye.

          • That is your prerogative not mine.

          • “…established scientific fact like GW and CC.” Thank you for admitting to being brainwashed. I’m not a denier (the climate IS changing), but the long range (more than 50 years) data does NOT show that it is man-caused. Besides which, there has been no concrete proof that CO2 is indeed a greenhouse gas. It’s been stated, and it’s been publicly accepted/believed, but there has been ZERO proof. In an adaptation of a line from Jerry Maguire, “Show me the proof!”
            You’re still free to believe whatever you wish.

          • Sorry, I follow science, not ‘belief’

          • You blithely state ‘Albertans are obsessive about oil, but others are aware of everything that’s involved.’

            Yet you don’t seem aware of much that’s involved.

            Albertans aren’t obsessive about oil. They are obsessive about theirs and Canada’s economy in row hard economic times. They’re obsessive about making sure people like you can fill their tanks and drive to their jobs and provide for their families, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of connected and offshoot jobs in other provinces and countries due to the developed industry. The economy is interconnected in thousands of ways, and the many government and social programs we enjoy as Canadians benefit from the resource development. By the way, only 7% of your so called ‘obsessed’ Albertans even work in the industry. The rest do something else, so stop your province tarring. How about trying to support your own ruddy economy and stop unintentionally trolling for Arab or other’s questionable agendas and interests, and be productive and come up with an alternative form of propulsion or petroleum based products, which constitutes a huge percentage of necessary everyday items. Until then, support what you’ve got.

          • ‘Let the eastern bastards freeze in the dark’

            That’s how concerned you are.

          • First, source your quotes. Ralph Klein said that, (RIP), but I doubt you’ve looked much into how and why that baited utterance came about with any objectivity. Educate yourself properly on the 360 of the regional and national economic consequences already formerly suffered here that took decades to recover from because of incursive federal regulatory controls by authorities not well familiar enough with the region or the industry’s nature; and not nearly acquainted enough with the consequential, devastating economic fallout of not well considered unilateral federal actions. Maybe do this before you pluck a statement from someone else’s repertoire unsourced and attempting to toss it as a 12 year old might like a smoke and mirrors curse word at some commenter with a first hand on the ground history and knowledgeable experience and thus actually valid opinion of said region, rather than doing some real relating.
            BTW. Ralph Klein was an overall amazing and competent Mayor, Premier and well loved politician,
            heartfelt stumbles aside. I suggest you read his bio. They don’t make many like him anymore.

          • Look chum….I lived through all that….and everyone knows who said it.

            Now instead of writing crap about me….stick to the topic.

          • ‘That’s how concerned you are.’
            Glad you finally see how it feels when somebody does it back to you. Chum.

          • There was no reason for Alberta to say it in the first place all those years ago….and Alberta has been just as rude ever since. To everyone, but especially Ont for some reason.

            Which is why you have no customers and no friends.

          • It’s unacademic to spout erroneous pronouncements based on irrational feelings.
            We have so few friends that our population has doubled since ’76.
            As for the silly no customers comment,
            The Canadian Energy Research Institute (CERI)estimates oil sands will create $444 billion in tax revenue across Canada over the next 25 years. Over 70 per cent, or $322 billion, will go to the federal government. Alberta companies have signed millions of dollars in contracts with companies throughout Canada to support activity in the oil sands. Key industries servicing the oil sands include machinery and metal fabrication, particularly in Ontario. Atlantic Canada is seeing increased activity in certain industries, such as manufacturing.
            New Brunswick steel manufacturers have signed contracts worth an estimated $50 million.
            Over the next 25 years, employment in the oil sands is expected to grow from 75,000 jobs in 2010 to 905,000 jobs in 2035 – with 126,000 of those being sourced in provinces outside Alberta.
            The Alberta economy has the highest rate of economic growth in Canada over the last 20 years.
            Alberta exports of goods rose by 64 per cent from 2001 to 2011 to $93 billion, which includes over $66 billion in energy exports.
            Don’t let any actual facts get in the way of your camel spitting, though.

          • LOL it’s ‘unacademic’ to depend on myths as your source.

            And ‘expected to’ and ‘estimated’ are meaningless.

            Some people go to Alberta for work, yes. They’re just visiting though, and won’t be permanent residents.

            The US isn’t keen on your pipeline, and BC doesn’t want one either.

            I know you don’t like the idea of people switching to alternate energy, but I’m afraid that’s how capitalism works.

            Alberta only supplies 16% of Canada’s GDP, Ontario 40%

          • Ah, it’s some kind of pi__ing contest for you? Ooookay…
            Alberta has 3.8 million people = 16.87% GDP
            Ontario has 12.9 ” people = 38.11% GDP
            If you do the math ratio, to match the GDP per capita
            Ont. would need to do 57.26% GDP.

            See, it’s not really kosher to compare that way, because Alberta and Sask. sit on a national natural resource, which is why transfer payments exist.

            Many from Ontario and the rest of Canada have made their lives here for decades. One couple moved home, and came back. They don’t work in the industry. They like the mountains. Young rig guys or sands guys in McMurray probably move home when they’ve had enough. I know some that have retired in the Mc.

            Actually, alternate energy sounds good to everybody. Capitalism works when the margin looks good. Solyndra, case in point. You should see the alt energy AB companies are working on with all that money.

          • LOL no dear, I don’t do pissing contests. Why embarrass people?

            We all know the stats, and none of that helps you. Ontario is bigger and richer. Period.

            Thousands of people in Alberta are ‘just visiting’

            Eaualization payments have been around since Confederation, and Alberta has had help from it.

            Ontario would be happy to get rid of it…..said so many times.


          • You seriously don’t understand what I just showed you.
            To match the GDP per person capita of Alberta,
            you would have to do 57.26% to equal AB’s output.
            First you do a p**sing contest, and then you deny it.
            I’m done. You are irrational.

          • And ‘if my grandmother had wheels, she’d be a bus’

            Again….Alberta mythology, never reality.

            You’re done? Is that a promise? Please?

  4. Keystone XL doesn’t contribute significantly to increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

    1) It displaces Venezuelan heavy oil, which arguably is just as carbon intensive as oilsands oil.

    2) it frees up pipeline capacity for US shale oil (which is light oil) in other US pipelines, which arguably will reduce greenhouse emissions.

    3) Oil transport by rail is exploding. The spice will flow regardless. You may slow it down for awhile.

    4) There will be significant cost advantages to US industry using cheaper North American oil on the East coast, just like in Canada when oil sands oil and lighter shale oil begins to flow, relative to European and Asian industry.

    It would help if Canadian politicians and media actually had more first hand knowledge of the oil industry, other than what is handed to them by environmental groups.

    And besides, slowing the pace of development of the oilsands may actually help Alberta catchup up with infrastructure and workforce shortages.

    Ontario and Quebec will arguably be hurt more by the slowdown of Western Canada’s growth than Western Canada.

    • 1) Nope, worldwide, it supplements. Adding to downward pressure on heavy oil/bitumen.

      2) Nope, it adds supply, which adds to consumption (lower costs).

      3) Rail has bottlenecks too. Just haven’t reached cap yet on many lines using light crude. And if you have to add heating at either end (loading or delivery of bitumen) time & cost go up significantly.

      4) Maybe. Price will be determined by competing options to consumer. If east coast oil from Alberta is significantly discounted, it will be exported.

      • You realize conventional oil production declines about 5% per year without new drilling. And the new conventional oil is offshore or in dangerous places.

        Destabilizing the oil development environment can have global economic consequences if new supplies (to offset declines) are not brought on in an orderly progression.

        When you knock things out of equilibrium, the sequencing of subsequent events may not occur in exactly the way you may have anticipated.

        • “Hey buddy, can you paradigm?”

    • “It would help if Canadian politicians and media actually had more first
      hand knowledge of the oil industry, other than what is handed to them by
      environmental groups.”
      That may be the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard yet in this debate. Our government leaders not only ignore what environmental groups say, they attack environmentalists publicly and organize CRA witch hunts to audit their finances.

      Meanwhile oil industry executives have complete access to Canadian decision makers and completely dominate the National Energy Board. See for instance:

      • Because 90% of environmentalists are idiots who are immune to the actual facts.

        • You can have that opinion but it’s alternate reality on steroids to pretend that environmental groups have more influence with politicians than the oil industry.

          • You are completely missing one group that has huge lobbying power and is responsible for a big source of emissions yet gets a pass by famous environmentalists like Robert Redford. That is the American coal industry. We also have a thriving coal industry in Canada…in Alberta. There is also a booming coal industry in Europe and Australia.

          • I’m not missing anything. You made a statement about Canadian politicians relying on whatever is handed to them by environmentalists when the decision makers are demonstrably dependent on industry perspectives. I call bullshit.

      • And what kind of BS information do they get from the oil industry as it leads the corrupt politicians around by the nose?

    • There will be significant cost advantages to US industry using cheaper North American oil on the East coast, just like in Canada when oil sands oil and lighter shale oil begins to flow…

      Isn’t the current plan to ship the bitumen to U.S. refineries, refine it, and then EXPORT IT? From my understanding, oil sands production isn’t being shipped to the States for use in the States, the U.S. is just a stop on it’s way to it’s final consumer outside of the U.S.

      • A lot of it will be shipped to the East Coast of the US, where refineries will be shut down unless they get lower cost feedstock from the oilsands or from lighter shale oil. Many eastern refineries already have or are planning to get oil by rail from mid-continent.

        Quebec and New Brunswick could “steal” these high paying refinery jobs from Texas and Louisiana if they were on the ball.

        Refined product pipelines, which already reach the south east from the Gulf also might be extended northward.

    • “1) It displaces Venezuelan heavy oil, which arguably is just as carbon intensive as oilsands oil.”

      Sorry, but you’re peddling nonsense. In some cases the very same people who are making the security/ethical argument for AB oilsands will be making some other argument for the exploitation of Venezuelan oilsands. As long as there is demand or a market for it they will try and exploit it. The security argument is at least somewhat rational, but the ethical argument was always bogus bs pushed by shills and apologists like Levant.

      Further on you seem to be making contradictory points. [2] OTOH keystone will free up pipeline for fracking oil; and OTOH slowing the pace of AB’s oilsands will be a good. The industry goal seems to be to double or triple exploitation. Obviously they can’t get there without keystone AND gateway, trains or no trains.
      My own view is not getting either may help AB to take a more rational look at the pace of development, infrastructure costs and ultimately the cost to the environment. Personally the lesser of the two evils would be yes to keystone. My worry is this is setting us up for a potential national crisis over the approval of gateway. Although Clark winning the election has probably lessened that possibility. Many thinks she’s in Redford’s or Harper’s back pocket – she isn’t, even if she personally wants gateway to go.
      I think you might be missing some of the import of Obama’s message – that the way things are going they think[ down there] that keystone is expendable. And the resulting problem for Canada from that is our problem, not theirs.
      Harper and the pipeline crowd may have missed the boat. The window to get this through may have closed.
      The Americans do play a mean game of hard ball, don’t they! Always did!

      • How is the first point nonsense? Look at the reports from the U.S. government:

        “• compared to selected imports, Canadian oil sands crudes range from 9% to 19% more emission-intensive than Middle Eastern Sour, 5% to 13% more emissionintensive than Mexican Maya, and 2% to 18% more emission-intensive than various Venezuelan crudes, on a Well-to-Wheel basis;”


        Transport fuels are a high hanging fruit when it comes to reducing GHGs. Reduction of coal fired power plants, better efficiency standards, and conservation are the low hanging fruits. Oil for transport is going to take a long time to displace, batteries have come a long way but they are still too expensive and have too low of a specific energy. Increased supply security for a marginal increase in carbon intensity is a trade off I think the american are willing to make.

        • You make some good points about oil sticking around for a good long while as a transportation fuel. But my point is that I very much doubt AB bitumin will save the Venezuelan amazon just because keystone is okayed. That’s the principle reason ethical oil is pure nonsense as a concept. If the demand is there, then the pressure to get it out of the ground will be there.

          • If that is the argument being pushed for ethical oil, then that is pretty ridiculous. I thought the argument being made was supply security vs carbon intensity.

          • Levants original argument was that our ethical oil ( it’s is ethical in the sense we pay good wages for it here) is somehow superior to ME oil because it also displaces it – making us all safer, especially in N America. It’s ridiculous of course because someone else will always be willing to buy it if demand outstrips supply. There is a security argument to be made for N America. But the carbon intensity argument seems nonsense to me as well. Fact is its way cheaper and probably less environmentally harmful, and less impact full in terms of CC to buy your oil from SA or anywhere in the ME.
            The real irony of the proposed expansion of the AB oil sands is that we can’t keep up with the production of condensate ( which requires more pipelines) it’s been posited we’ll wind up depending on the ME for most of that eventually. If true, there goes the security argument out of the window too.

          • I won’t make Levant’s argument. Though conventional light crudes are becoming supply constrained and a lot of fields have peaked (Mexico, Norway, UK, Algeria, see ). Persian Gulf oil is increasingly going to Asia. Oil sands carbon intensity should be compared to where the supply growth for U.S. will be coming from: other heavys, deepwater, shale oil, and gas to liquids. That is where the carbon intensity of oil sands oil is marginal to equivalent (perhaps with the exception of gas to liquids).

            Condensate for Keystone is not an issue, there is enough natural gas in the U.S. and gas infrastructure in the gulf to push dilbit for decades. Condensate for the Gateway is a major issue, because it would require LNG shipped to Kitimat from the U.S. or Asia.

          • Not an issue!! If we become dependent on ME condensate[ and by implication the US also] we throw the whole security argument out of the window. If we do double down on oilsands extraction the security argument becomes a red herring…essentially meaningless.Indeed there is some possibility that the rapid expansion of fracking [ China and Russia haven’t scratched the surface of their potential yet] may well put Fort Mac out of business, or at least severely limit the dreams of a tripling of output.

          • Condensate can easily be produced by processing natural gas. I do not know why you think that we would be importing it from the ME. Natural gas and condensate imports from the ME to the North America are nearly non existent . Natural gas imports from the U.S. are govern by NAFTA. The U.S. has massive reserves of natural gas. Not mention the amount of tight gas that is now reachable in B.C., AB, SA, ON, QC (or Methane hydrates). There is no shortage natural gas for condensate. Again the reason why condensate for the Gateway pipeline is an issue is because the plan calls for LNG shipping and storage at Kitimat. Keystone can be supplied by via rail and existing capacity in Alberta (as could Gateway if really needed). Assuming 30% by volume condensate and .8 Mbpd capacity, it would work out that the Keystone XL would require around 200 billion cubic feet of gas a year, that can easily be supplied by North American gas. (U.S. annual production is around 50 trillion cubic feet per year, Canada is around 5 trillion cubic feet) Lack of condensate supply is a canard, condensate transport capacity is a moderate issue.

            The security argument is made with respect to the U.S., the U.S. has the reverses of the natural gas to supply Keystone with condensate for its life time. Therefore the security attribute stands.

            Fracking and gas to liquids production will likely put pressure on the oil sands to move towards new extraction techniques such as THAI, VAPEX, ET-DSP that reduce cost (higher EROEI). Though building gas to liquids production capacity is going to take decades, where as the refinery capacity already exists to convert bitumen to fuel.

          • I don’t claim to be as informed on this as you appear to be, but i do try to follow along. This lady in particular has made some interesting arguments around the pipelines
            I’ll try to dig up a much longer piece she presented on condensates. As i recall she claims that N. Americ can meet current requirements, but if the oilands are to to triple or even expand further as some have proposed, then they will have to turn to the ME as a major supplier of condensate – which as i said blows the security argument out of the window.
            Personally i find the notion of using a relatively clean non renewable to produce bitumin, just because its artificially cheap, to be border line nuts and thoroughly unethical.

          • She makes a decent point about supplying eastern Canada with oil, a pipeline to eastern Canada should be prioritized well above any export pipelines. Though I do not buy her argument about condensate. There is an argument to made that having a LNG port would mean that the condensate would be supplied by the ME. Though this is not because of any gas supply constraint, it would be because ME natural gas would be the cheapest. The ME has been pushing for LNG ports around the world because they have an excess of supply which they can not sell fast enough (they even want LNG ports on the eastern coast of the U.S., a market that is saturated with gas). If that supply dried up it could easily be replaced by North American gas.

            The condensate can be recovered at the termination point of the pipeline. If and how much is recovered depends on the refining process or storage process. Gas is used to produce oil, because oil has a higher utility at the moment. Though gas to liquids are something to keep an eye on, could be as disruptive as fracking has been.

          • I guess cheapest trumps even security then? The essential dishonesty of politicians and their big business buddies never ceases to amaze. :)

          • I think we working with two different definitions of security. The security I am referring to is supply security, a consistent, dependable, and cost secure supply of oil. Security as in protection against an oil embargo or instability in the ME. Not security, as in money could stop flowing to potential political enemies. There is the weak argument made that less U.S. dollars would be flowing to the ME even if condensate was sourced from the ME, value of condensate vs value of oil displaced ( [70/30 * price of oil ] – price of condensate, assuming no condensate recycling). Though much of that argument is made moot since there exists plenty of other buyer will pick up the slack, flow of money only marginally affected by depreciation in price caused by additional supply. Business leaders and politicians care about the former type of security and sell the latter type to the public.

  5. Time for the energy dinosaurs to adapt or die

    • Do you realize that thermal coal exports to Asia and Europe have exploded during Obama’s presidency?

      Obama is not only snooping on you, and dropping drone missiles on every gopher that moves in a Muslim country, but he is criminalizing investigative journalism in the United States. And not one bankster in jail or even charged with a crime.

      And his Big Data election campaign machine (his own private NSA) makes the Conservative Party’s robocalling look positively archaic and infantile.

      • Nonsense. Obama is progressive. Harper is evil. Everything you say is lies produced by conbots. Holly Stick is the most reliable, unbiased source of non-partisan information on these comment boards. Wake up.

        • Orson Bean – welcome back!

  6. Southern Alberta is going to undergo a multi-billion dollar rebuilding on borrowed dollars. Most fund managers are underweight Alberta debt relative to Ontario and Quebec, because there really is very little Alberta government debt at this point. Alberta borrowing will thus put pressure on the rates Ontario and Quebec will be able to finance roll over and new debt.

    Edmonton’s downtown is also going to see over a billion dollars worth of investment with the arena district and a new museum.

    The economic spinoffs of real estate and infrastructure develop tend to be more local than oil sands development.

    So with rebuilding a south and a construction boomlet in downtown Edmonton, a temporary slowdown of oil sands development is no big deal, and will make the costs of rebuilding in the south and in down Edmonton less.

    • And oil sands boom probably contributed to the delay in investments in costly infrastructure that may have averted, to a degree, costs of rebuilding.

  7. I think John Kerry is a big player on this. Close friend of Al Gore. Gore close to Suzuki. Oh my. Sun Media you haven’t been helpful. Sun press office for PMO? I guess the Americans know this?
    Doesn’t the PMO and Washington Embassy do any research on this stuff?

  8. ” It needn’t even mean a carbon tax, although it seems pretty clear that if Harper had implemented one of those or a meaningful cap-and-trade system in 2009, Keystone’s chances would today be significantly improved”

    Glad PW made this point because both Mulcair and Trudeau in particular are going to be hammering Harper on it…this is the payoff for his dilatory attitude to CC and the environment; all the chess master bull, because it all looked so good to use as a club against Dion at the time, is paying off big time now! Instead of taking an adult cooperative position toward the problem.
    Harper may well try to hang all this on Obama if this does go south. But an awful lot of other people are going to be pointing out that when you sow weeds don’t be shocked if you get weeds. A fully functioning national carbon tax would be looking like a mighty big plus on our side of the ledger about now.
    And don’t think some of the industry big players who have been receptive to a price on carbon for some time now aren’t wondering if it isn’t time to pull the rug out from under Harper.

    • Isn’t it incredible how absolutely everything Harper does is wrong?

      • What’s incredible is the fact you think your attempt at sarcasm is effective, any more than your new handle.

        • It’s a temporary misnomer due to embarrassment over Beantown Cup loss.

          • Ah…you should have jumped on the Chicago bandwagon like me then.

          • That was an observation, not a confessional.

          • That’s far too subtle a distinction for me. You ought to try making it more often. Sledge hammer sarcasm must be really really tiring after a while.

          • [sledgehammer] I’m NOT Hippocrates. [/sledgehammer]

          • Oh…just ignore me then

  9. No carbon tax is killing jobs

  10. If someone claims that a decision is a “no brainer”, it turns out it isn’t at all, does that make them a no brainer no brainer?

    If an “emerging energy superpower” is neither super nor powerful, do they still retain emerging energy (kinda like being constipated)?

  11. “Authorities should only approve TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline if
    they’re certain it won’t “significantly exacerbate” greenhouse gas

    Wow! That is parseworthy and vague enough to keep pundits hopping for a good while. Is he referring to US GHG emissions, or N. American or even global long term? I suppose he’s just referring to US emissions??? related to the pipeline. A price on carbon would be an awfully nice card to lay down now though, wouldn’t it mr chess master!

    • By a dive I presume he/she meant a thumbs up? Which would make today just a sop for the poor deluded and ever hopeful environmental crowd. Still, it’s an odd thing to do, to telegraph disappointment to his most arduous supporters. I have an itchy feeling there’s more to it then that. One thing’s for sure, the environs are going to be major peed off after hearing him refer to it as the tar sands and all. That’s almost like intention mockery or cruelty eh?or close to mockery.

  12. We all should know now what exactly “dilbit” means (diluted bitumen). Given a leak or a spill, the ‘dil” (dilutant) evaporates almost immediately, leaving behind the bitumen, the thick, peanut-butter-consistency sludge. This is the stuff of nightmares – it kills streams, lakes, oceans. It is not something to fool around with.
    Alberta would find waaaay more friends if it refined its sludge in its own backyard before exporting it to its neighbours and expecting its neighbours to put up with its horrors..

    • Not to mention the other byproduct … The coke that is quietly piling up waiting to be shipped off to some unscrupulous energy consumer.

      • Hey, it’s easy. At least some of the Koch Krud is being
        shipped out to be burned in the plants of Nova Scotia
        Power. The delightful part is that it’s being used to substitute
        for the equally sweet Venezuelan crud that NSP regularly
        burns to run my computer.

        • I’m shocked you aren’t using a renewable like wood to power up that PC.
          I wonder if this isn’t the next energy industry dirty secret to be outed…if you thought tar sands were bad, get a load of this stuff!

  13. Not convinced anything has changed. Noticed that Obama and Harper were chatting while at the G8 in Northern Ireland. I suspect that Harper was forewarned what Obama would say and has already been re-assured by Obama that approval is going to happen but it has to be worked through the US political and media culture first. The lack of counter-statements and general body language of the players like Harper, Olive, Redford and Doer strongly suggests there is no panic on the Canadian side that the US will take a hostile decision on Keystone XL. Canadian side has probably already been advised to “stay calm” as Obama Administration works through the feud between State and EPA. The clue is Obama’s use of old-fashioned terminology from long ago Kyoto days (“tar-sands’, “carbon pollution”) that he is talking to the US environmental lobby and is not trying to provoke Canada.

  14. Obama is putting solar panels on the WH roof apparently. Keystone is getting iffier. LOL

  15. this is what happens when Harper has a one track mind – he is more pro oil than Big Oil itself.

    • Harper is the most significant cause of global warming in the entire world. Look it up.

  16. Obama has no reason to rush the decision. Currently US Oil Companies enjoy a landlocked price for Alberta Oil. As the only customer the US – which is enjoying a glut of fossil fuels at the moment – is capitalizing on buying our oil cheap. I.E. it’s costing us and Alberta billions. And we’ve given them no reason to approve it. Would you trust this government on anything it said? Tricky Harper is Nixon on steroids, and the long song just gets worse with the current slate of dirty tricks upon Justin Trudeau. Paul Martin would’ve had the pipeline in place already. Even Dion, his Green Tax Shift facilitating the process, but making it economical to produce the oil as cleanly as possible and not leave the tailing ponds to wind up like the one in Sidney. The message here is that It makes a difference who you vote for. The guy in the sweater vest petting the little kitten really can fool some of the people all of the time, but here’s hoping he doesn’t continue to fool enough for re-election.

    • If Paul Martin had been elected, Canada would be a paradise right now. We would all be significantly wealthier and would be the envy of the world. Instead, we’re all dirt poor (except for a few rapacious robber barons) and everyone in the world hates our guts. Harper must be stopped ASAP.

  17. You got it, babe. You, and as far as I’ve seen, nobody else in the trade.

  18. Hi-very interesting discussion on whether or not to build a pipeline for oil from Canada to the united states-however most of the conversations were difficult to understand because of high level of the use of the English language-brilliant -yes-but wish discussion were simpler to comprehend-I think there is a tendency to show your brilliance and impress people at the expense of simpler thinking and use of words by say the ordinary person like myself–thanks for listening—Dan Menard

  19. Hi There—don’t know much about this situation-however enough to say this—either way a lot of people are going to get F ed-might as well flip a coin to decide –making it fair—the only thing is who will do the flipping?