After all the political argy-bargy, the final decision on the controversial oil pipeline plan is due as The New Republic explains. But the oil producers are already moving their product in other ways. Whether it’s still worth it with oil down near $40 a barrel is another matter.
Environmentalists have been waiting since 2008 for President Barack Obama’s decision on whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. That decision may come any day now. But Canada’s tar sands industry hasn’t been waiting around.
Publicly, TransCanada, the company behind the embattled pipeline, insists it is still optimistic it will win the long-running standoff—not just over Keystone, but another pipeline project that has faced environmental opposition as well, Energy East. “We’re optimistic for both of our projects,” TransCanada spokesman Mark Cooper told the New Republic.
The speculation in private, however, is that the writing may be on the wall for Keystone at least.
“The rumor is that the decision to deny has been made, and they’re just waiting for the right time and venue,” an unnamed source familiar with the company told The Canadian Press this month. Republican lawmakers in the U.S. have echoed the pessimism. “I don’t see a scenario where the president would sign off on Keystone,” Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chair Lisa Murkowski told Bloomberg recently. Then there are Obama’s own words over the last year, which suggest he’s leaning against the project.
This decision will be Obama’s final word on the Keystone XL pipeline. But for TransCanada, it won’t be the end of the story. Even if its permit is rejected, TransCanada has a few paths forward for keeping Keystone alive. The company may eye a NAFTA lawsuit arguing trade discrimination, or it may submit a new application under the next president—if it’s a Republican, the company would face a much easier time.
In the meantime, rail is the go-to substitute for missing infrastructure to ship oil from Canada to the U.S. Sixty percent of Alberta’s unprocessed oil already makes its way to American refineries by rail and pipelines. And in 2012, Canada exported 16,000 barrels of oil per day by rail to the U.S. In the first quarter of 2015, it exported 120,000 barrels per day, which might rise depending on whether global oil prices begin to increase again. As green organizing has focused on pipeline infrastructure, it’s done little to stop the explosion in tar sands shipments by rail and tanker.
Full report: No Keystone, No Problem: The Oil Industry Is Making Other Plans | The New Republic.
Maybe ‘explosion in tar sands shipments‘ was a poor choice of words