Tag Archives: Keystone

White House decision on Keystone pipeline

Photo of an Alberta oil rig by Greg Locke, Copyright 2014

Alberta oil rig. Greg Locke © 2014

UPDATED: The U.S. rejected the final phase of the Keystone pipeline, President Barack Obama announced at his Friday morning press conference.  “The State Department has decided that the Keystone XL Pipeline would not serve the national interest of the United States,” said Obama in a statement, adding “I agree.”

TransCanada Corp.’s application for the Keystone XL pipeline, shipping oil from Alberta’s oil sands to refineries in the southern U.S., hit a wall earlier this week when Obama rejected the company’s 11th hour request to suspend a review of the pipeline’s final construction phase.

The pipeline is partly symbolic at this point; as the tortured application process wound its way through  America’s Byzantine politics, much of the oil that Keystone would carry has already found alternate ways south, through existing pipelines and via rail. But Obama’s decision is a key signal on how serious America is about climate change, leading up to the Paris summit in a few weeks.

Links below. Drag the counter to the 51 second mark to replay the live announcement from the White House here:

Excerpts, via @WhiteHouse Twitter feed :

  • “The pipeline would not make a meaningful long-term contribution to our economy.”
  • “A bipartisan infrastructure plan…could create more than 30 times as many jobs/year as the pipeline”
  • Our businesses created 268,000 new jobs last month…the unemployment rate fell to 5%.
  • “The pipeline would not lower gas prices for American consumers. In fact, gas prices have already been falling steadily”
  • “Shipping dirtier crude oil into our country would not increase America’s energy security.”
  • “We’ve doubled the distance our cars will go on a gallon of gas by 2025.”
  • “We’ve…multiplied the power we generate from the sun 20 times over.”
  • “America has cut our total carbon pollution more than any other country on Earth.”
  • “America is leading on climate change with new rules on power plants”
  • “We’ve got to come together…to protect the one planet we’ve got while we still can.”
  • “If we want to prevent the worst effects of climate change before it’s too late, the time to act is now.”

Statement from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, emailed:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today issued the following statement on the Keystone XL pipeline decision by the United States:

“The application for a cross-border permit for the Keystone XL pipeline project was turned down by the United States Government today. We are disappointed by the decision but respect the right of the United States to make the decision.

“The Canada-U.S. relationship is much bigger than any one project and I look forward to a fresh start with President Obama to strengthen our remarkable ties in a spirit of friendship and co-operation.

“We know that Canadians want a government that they can trust to protect the environment and grow the economy. The Government of Canada will work hand-in-hand with provinces, territories and like-minded countries to combat climate change, adapt to its impacts, and create the clean jobs of tomorrow.”


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Desmond Tutu on climate change, Keystone, and divestment


Desmond Tutu

Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu has launched a campaign to persuade people to divest themselves of holdings in the fossil fuel industry and, specifically, to stop construction of the Keystone pipeline from Canada’s oil sands through the United States to the Gulf of Mexico.

“Twenty-five years ago people could be excused for not knowing much, or doing much, about climate change,” he writes in an essay published here, in F&O’s Loose Leaf salon. “It was an “environmental issue” of intense interest to environmentalists and leftists and conspiracy theorists, but not much use to us. Today, we have no excuse. None. Knowledge of climate change is no longer limited to the scientific community and environmental activist fringes. No more can it be dismissed as science fiction; we are already feeling the effects.”

Tutu’s campaign was launched prior to the release of the next big report, on Sunday in Berlin, by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This report, the third in a series, will recommend ways to mitigate climate change – and is expected to warn the world is running out of time to do so. Earlier IPCC reports were issued last fall from Sweden on the science of climate change, and on March 31 from Japan on the existing worldwide impact of climate change. Sunday’s release, of which Reuters reported seeing a leaked draft early this week, “outlines ways to cut emissions and boost low-carbon energy, which includes renewables such as wind, hydro- and solar power, nuclear power and “clean” fossil fuels, whose carbon emissions are captured and buried,” said Reuters.

But the IPCC can only assess scientific findings and issue reports — it will be up to the public and the world’s governments to respond. And that is where Tutu comes in. An excerpt of his commentary:

This week, scientists and public representatives gathered in Berlin are weighing up radical options for  curbing carbon emissions contained in the third report of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The bottom line, a draft of the report warns, is that we have 15 years to take the necessary steps to affordably reduce emissions to attain the targeted 2°C over pre-industrial times. The horse may not have already bolted, but it’s well on its way through the stable door.

Who can stop it? Well, we can, you and I. And it is not just that we can stop it, we have a responsibility to do so. We have a responsibility to persuade the powerful and the wealthy to stop the juggernaut of earthly destruction. It is a responsibility that begins with God commanding the first human inhabitants of the Garden of Eden, “to till it and keep it.” To “keep” it; not to abuse it, not to destroy it.

This is why, no matter where you live, the fact that the United States is even debating whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline is so appalling ….

Desmond Tutu’s essay, An Argument for Carbon Divestment, is here, published on F&O with permission.


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Naheed Nenshi’s unlikely stardom


Naheed Nenshi. © 2013 Neil Zeller (City of Calgary photo)

There are strange doings in Alberta, the Canadian province that’s often compared to America’s state of Texas.

Alberta has been characterized by its Go-Get-‘Em attitude, cowboy hats, and an economy based on oil and gas extraction, especially the oil sands in its north. It’s widely associated with the full-throated call for unfettered markets by its neo-liberal “Calgary School” of economics. Alberta is home to Canada’s Bible Belt. Its Wildest and Westest city is dubbed Cowtown for its famous Calgary Stampede, but has developed into one of the world’s great modern energy headquarters. In short, Alberta has been fertile territory for Canada’s version of America’s Republican party. 

Alberta is now at a crossroads: a landlocked province, it’s on tenterhooks awaiting U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision on approving the next leg of the Keystone pipeline, crucial for transporting bitumen from Alberta oil sands to world markets. And yet, despite its safe historic identity and these parlous times, the citizens of Calgary have abandoned their predictable scripts. They’ve enthusiastically embraced a leader who surely ranks amongst the world’s least-likely political stars: Naheed Nenshi, a former policy wonk and academic, a self-styled “brown guy,” a liberal quite willing to fetter some sorts of business, and an Ismaili Muslim. 

Nobody, noplace and nothing can be captured in the simplistic terms I’ve used above, of course. But facts underly most stereotypes – and if there’s even a grain of truth in Alberta stereotypes, a remarkable political shift is now underway. Conservative, staid Alberta has begun electing politicians, both provincially and locally, who can only be characterized as “moderate,” perhaps even “progressive.” Provincially last year, Albertans voted for the centrist Progressive Conservative party over the far-right Wild Rose Party. This week its two biggest cities chose unapologetically “progressive” mayors: Nenshi by a 74 per cent landslide in Calgary, and a newcomer named Don Iveson by six out of 10 voters in the provincial capitol Edmonton.

Nenshi, who came to national and international media attention earlier this year after massive floods struck Calgary (he was called a “superhero” for his adroit handling of the crisis) is arguably the poster child of this shift. 

But as surprising as it is to find Nenshi as Calgary’s much-loved mayor, he is no risk-taker. His role as a change-maker may be more symbolic than actual. In his first term he proved willing to forcefully push back against opponents on local issues – but he very deftly avoided the big issues:  North America’s culture wars and Alberta’s bête noire, climate change. The question now is whether his horizons will expand in term two.

Log in to read Canada’s Mayor, a profile of Nenshi by Alberta author Brian Brennan, in the Magazine section, accessible with a $1 day pass for the entire site, or by subscription.


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Naheed Nenshi, Canada’s Mayor

Nenshi3When river flooding inundated downtown Calgary, it caused billions of dollars in damage and tested the leadership of Naheed Nenshi, a first-term mayor who handled the crisis so adroitly that he attracted national and international media attention. 
How did this former policy wonk and self-styled “brown guy,” a liberal and a Muslim, come out of nowhere to defy the stereotypes?

How did Nenshi become the unlikely leader of Canada’s politically conservative energy capital, at a time when oil companies and environmentalists anxiously await a decision from President Obama on the future of the Keystone XL pipeline? 

Read Brian Brennan‘s story Canada’s Mayor: Naheed Nenshi in F&O’s Think/Magazine section, with a $1 day pass for the entire site, or by subscription starting at $2.95 per month



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