Speaking from Myanmar, President Barack Obama poured some cold water on bi-partisan efforts to pass a bill authorizing the Keystone XL pipeline. He suggested that the pipeline wasn’t about helping America but helping Canada.
“Understand what this project is: It is providing the ability of Canada to pump their oil, send it through our land, down to the Gulf, where it will be sold everywhere else,” he said. “It doesn’t have an impact on US gas prices.”
But he’s not right. For one thing, oil is a global commodity. More oil on the market, whether it’s here in the U.S. or internationally, has an impact on energy prices (it’s ironic that many here in North Dakota are enjoying gas prices under $3.00 per gallon for the first time in a long time). For another thing, the Keystone pipeline would have capacity for North Dakota oil, as Rep. Kevin Cramer told me this morning on WDAY AM970 (I was sitting in for Mike Kapel again this morning).
Cramer noted that the Keystone pipeline would take up to 100,000 barrels per day from the North Dakota oil fields. “That’s ten fewer trains a week hauling Bakken crude,” Cramer said.
That’s kind of a big deal as North Dakotans worry about oil-by-rail safety. With another derailment in Casselton last night, less than a year after an explosive derailment made national headlines, people are nervous. The idea of Keystone lessening the burden on rail infrastructure from oil shipments (and opening some capacity for agriculture shipments) is appealing.
But Cramer noted that aside from the capacity for American oil, Keystone pipeline would represent “36 percent of what we currently import from the Persian Gulf.” I don’t know about the rest of you, but promoting Canadian energy on the international market at the expense of oil from the Middle East sure sounds like something that would be in America’s best interest.
I also asked Cramer about Senator Heidi Heitkamp’s tweet from yesterday expressing “disappointment” that Republicans are taking credit for Keystone despite the fact that the only obstacle to Keystone crossing the U.S./Canadian border has been the Democrat Senate Majority Leader (who Heitkamp voted for at the beginning of this Congress) and the Democrat President (who Democrat also voted for).
Cramer said that the about-face from Democrats on Keystone is proof that “sometimes politics works.”
“As cynical as it seems Harry Reid woke up last Wednesday and said ‘maybe we should have passed some of these energy bills,'” Cramer said.