Joe Biden’s plans to cancel the Keystone XL Pipeline is a gift to someone. The radical green groups for sure: they have opposed the oil link since its inception. The trucking and railroad industry will benefit, too, because once the pipeline is stopped, then the oil will be transported in and around America by something with wheels. It’s also a gift to our adversaries: for who will benefit when America and Canada can’t bring their fossil fuels to market? The competition. Russia and Venezuela will be thrilled to know their market share will increase thanks to the Biden administration’s fumble.
What’s fascinating about Keystone is how un-fascinating the project actually really is. Sure, it’s a marvel of engineering and an extraordinary accomplishment of human and mechanical skills. The 1,200 mile pipeline from Alberta, Canada, to the U.S. Gulf Coast carrying crude oil to be refined is a great infrastructure project. A State Department study commissioned during the Obama administration (when Joe Biden was Veep, a point which requires emphasis) determined the pipeline would create 3,200 temporary construction jobs directly, 42,000 additional jobs indirectly, and generate over $2 billion in wages. For the people in Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska, the states through which the proposed pipeline will transverse, that’s an enormous opportunity.
Joe Biden claims to love infrastructure. His “Build Back Better” program commits to infrastructure programs which create “good paying” jobs and achieve “net-zero” emissions. (Know what has emissions? Trucks and trains. Know what doesn’t? Pipelines. But alas, there’s no place for facts in a party which simplistically “believes in science.”). Eliminating Keystone for purely political reasons eliminates these jobs and all the opportunities for these communities. Rural America will not fare well under the Biden energy agenda. After all, this is just the beginning.
Are pipelines scary? If you think so, I have the plot of a horror film: the call is coming from inside the house. Your house is full of pipelines. America is crisscrossed with over 2.6 million miles of pipeline. That’s enough to get to the moon and back — more than five times. Is there a risk? Of course, and the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, records all pipeline incidents. Last year there were fewer than a dozen considered “serious” and one tragically resulted in the death of four workers in Texas.
Let’s compare that to trucking, which is the fallback transportation method after the pipeline is ignorantly canceled. Another office at the Department of Transportation, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, also records accidents. In 2018, the most recent year for recorded data, large trucks were involved in 4,862 fatal crashes, 112,000 crashes which resulted in injury, and 414,000 crashes which resulted in property damage.
You tell me which is greener and safer: pipelines or trucks? The facts are clear, and this is no way a knock on the trucking industry, which is a vital, noble and risky profession. It’s just a technological reality.
Keystone was also making a massive renewable energy investment, and you’d think that alone would please the green Biden team. According to The Wall Street Journal, “Canada’s TC Energy Corp. TRP 0.29% is committing to spend $1.7 billion on solar, wind and battery power to operate the partially completed 2,000-mile pipeline.” Furthermore, the company pledges “also to hire a union workforce and eliminate all greenhouse-gas emissions from operations by 2030.” These points which hit the very plan Biden promises should trump (pardon the pun) politics and keep the project alive.
Canada has an economy to run, too, and the country has lots of oil to sell. If Keystone is stopped, it will simply be sold elsewhere. China? Probably. As the world’s largest oil importer at 10-11 million barrels a day, China would love to buy oil from anyone but America. Canada needs revenue and jobs. China needs oil. Losing our northern neighbor’s reliable, inexpensive, and abundant crude to the Chinese Communist Party nation would be a foreign policy collapse. But if Biden wants to continue the Obama-Biden tradition, more foreign policy disasters are to be expected.
I’ve written here before about the great gift to China which is the entire Biden energy agenda. At the same time he will be watching Canada’s oil go to China, Biden will be buying Chinese wind and solar technologies with borrowed American tax dollars. Meanwhile, Russia will be selling its natural gas to Europe, while America will join the other eunuchs of the Paris Climate Accord to keep China and Russia laughing at all of us.
Great plan. Putin and Xi themselves couldn’t have crafted a better one.
Energy policy isn’t the simplicity of soundbites. “Cancel Keystone” is a bumper sticker, not the decision of a serious politician who sees the real world fallout of jobs and geopolitics let alone the increase in emissions that will result.
This is just the beginning of an energy agenda that will cripple us on so many levels: jobs, cost of living, and opportunity. It will hurt our critical allies in Canada and Europe. It will benefit our enemies, Russia and China. And it will do absolutely nothing for the environment.
It’s almost as if Joe Biden isn’t the “moderate” we were always told he is, even if his tweets will be nicer than his predecessor.
Daniel Turner is the founder and executive director of Power The Future, a national nonprofit organization that advocates for American energy jobs. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @DanielTurnerPTF.