Bill Clinton embraces Keystone XL - but did he ask Hillary? -

Bill Clinton embraces Keystone XL – but did he ask Hillary?


When President Barack Obama first named  Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State, there was a lot of concern about what role her husband would play behind the scenes or whether his work at his charitable foundation would lead to any conflict of interest. The Clintons have seemed to have succeeded in keeping their roles comfortably separate. So it is notable that the former president would weigh in on the Keystone XL pipeline issue at a time when the federal review process that leads to a recommendation of a presidential permit for the cross-border pipeline is run by his wife’s department.

Bill Clinton said to an energy conference this afternoon:

“One of the most amazing things to me about this Keystone pipeline deal is that they ever filed that route in the first place since they could’ve gone around the Nebraska Sandhills and avoided most of the dangers, no matter how imagined, to the Ogallala [aquifer] with a different route, which I presume we’ll get now, because the extra cost of running is infinitesimal compared to the revenue that will be generated over a long period of time,” he said.

“So, I think we should embrace it and develop a stakeholder-driven system of high standards for doing the work,” Clinton added.

Like President Clinton, I have wondered why the proposed route went through the Sandhills of  Nebraska. In a recent interview, I posed that question to TransCanada. Spokesman Shawn Howard told me:

“There were 14 different route configurations examined. The original route was determined to have least environmental impact.” As for the Sandhills concerns:  “We knew we could build pipeline safely and we could put features that would give additional protections. It was the shortest route through the area and affected the fewest landowners.”

I also wondered why they didn’t simply amend the route once it became clear that there was a lot of opposition to building through the Sandhills. Here was Howard’s response:

“When you are in a legal process, you are allowed to move the route a couple of miles. That would be permissible. But we’re talking about having to re-route 100 miles of a new route, that’s not a minor change.  For all the groups and activists that were running around saying ‘Move the route!’ —  they didn’t understand the process. If we had made a major change like that, we would have had to start [the permit application] from the beginning because then you’re applying for a different route.”

Filed under:

Bill Clinton embraces Keystone XL – but did he ask Hillary?

  1. Affecting least number of land-owners is simply another way of saying cheapest. 

    “If we had made a major change like that, we would have had to start [the permit application] from the beginning because then you’re applying for a different route.”

    And yet now you have to start the process from the beginning again anyway, having squandered an opportunity to gain some good-will from the people of the area, not to mention how many months it took waiting for the “No go” result.

    • hindsight is always accurate:)

  2. They should have been more intelligent about choosing the route in the first place. But I suppose we in Canada and the US have been slack in allowing these companies to do pretty well whatever they want up to now.

  3. Didn’t TransCanada contribute to Hlillary in her bid for the Dem nomination? 

  4. It would seem to me that the extra 100 miles would be a selling point, as it would bring them closer to the promised number of jobs that would come out of the project. As it was originally proposed, there was no way that they’d get the numbers they were saying. (Unless you count some short term – as short as two weeks – jobs, which wouldn’t do much for their cause, especially when risking the drinking water of almost an entire state.)

  5. This is a microcosm of the changing role of energy companies and how they operate.

    I bet the pipeline route selection and impact study was heavily populated by engineers whose focus is mainly on safety, cost and mitigating environmental impacts.

    Politics (local or national) and pr is not a strong suit. Will be, increasingly, tho.  The recent announcement of the retirement of the President and CEO of Enbridge (Northern Gateway Pipeline) should be seen in this context.

  6. Oh I miss Bill Clinton , he always made everything sound well, so easy!

  7. To a certain degree it would not have made any difference what route they submitted. The environmentalists would be protesting regardless of the environmental impact of the route, because a big part of what they are upset about is the further exploitation of tar-sands based oil.

    Further, a different route, would just have impacted a different group of property owners. So you would switch one group for another. In that instance choosing the route with the least impact on the number of property owners makes sense.

    If you are going to get flack for choosing the cheap route, and you are going to get the same flack for choosing a more expensive route, then you may as well choose the cheapest route. This is where the environmental lobby could be a little more strategic at times in choosing their battles and negotiation positions.

  8. No…he asked Monica.

  9. The U.S. imports crude oil and exports petroleum products such as gasoline, heating oil and diesel fuel. The U.S. Petroleum Supply Monthly report states that 350,000 barrels a day shall be exported in 2012. They do not need the Keystone pipeline. Canada has to refine our own oil and export the finished products to the world instead of giving away jobs to another country. Why is the price of our fuel so high when obviously there is no shortage.