Saturday, March 7, 2015

Keystone XL: Obama tars Canadian oil, relations

There have been a couple of stories over the past weeks I've commented on elsewhere, so a quick post to pull them together. Unfortunately I'll end with some references to video clips where the US President demonstrates his parochial views on trade.

I've felt Robert Rapier is a good energy analyst since I became aware of him following a 60 Minutes story with the exaggerated title, The Cleantech Crash. Vinod Khosla's KiOR was a focus of that that January 2014 report, and in fact it did file for bankruptcy by the end of 2014.

President Obama is Lying About the Keystone Pipeline | Robert Rapier
...when President Obama vetoed a bill last week that would have sped up the approval process for the Keystone XL pipeline, he repeated several false claims which were in direct contradiction to the U.S. State Department assessment of the project. The Washington Post — not exactly a bastion of Republicans out to discredit the President — recently took him to task on these claims in Obama’s claim that Keystone XL oil ‘bypasses the U.S.’ earns Four Pinocchios. The dreaded “Four Pinocchios” is defined as “Whoppers.” A gentler way of saying lies. Worse than their “Three Pinocchios” rating which means “Significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions.” And when the Washington Post is calling out a Democratic President like this, he (and his allies) should recognize that this isn’t just political enemies out to get him.
So what was the big lie that President Obama told? He claimed that the pipeline is for Canadian oil that will bypass the U.S., providing no benefit to the U.S....
The Washington Post Fact Checker,noted by Rapier is Obama’s claim that Keystone XL oil ‘bypasses the U.S.’ earns Four Pinocchios:
...when the president says “it bypasses the United States,” he leaves out a very important step. The crude oil would travel to the Gulf Coast, where it would be refined into products such as motor gasoline and diesel fuel (known as a distillate fuel in the trade)... 
A report released in February by IHS Energy...concluded that 70 percent of the refined product would be consumed in the United States.
Enviromentalists dismiss IHS as a biased source, but the analysis mirrors the conclusions of the State Department’s final environmental impact statement on the Keystone XL project. This is what is especially strange about Obama’s remarks, as he appears to be purposely ignoring the findings of the lead Cabinet agency on the issue.
I added the emphasis.The Washington Post fact chack was on statements made by President Obama in an interview with a reporter from North Dakota.

The President of the United States is a temporary job - unless I missed something. This I mention because of a commentagy by Michael Bloomberg suggesting Canada might "negotiate" with the U.S. President during the last years of his term.
The timing is right for talks. The Canadian government will face increasing pressure to take a more aggressive approach to climate change in the run-up to the United Nations conference in Paris this December...
Canada has an election prior to the Paris conference, so it's more a question of what postures potential Canadian governments want to assume to strengthen their chances of being the next Canadian government.

The Bloomberg commentary created some discussion in many places. I commented on it at the New York Times' site - which is why I emphasized above the President was ignoring the lead Cabinet agency on the issue.
Two problems with negotiating with Canada anything regarding climate and emissions: Kyoto, and Copenhagen.
Kyoto Canada negotiated along with the U.S., and was left in an agreement never ratified by its neighbor.
Copenhagen therefore saw a very simple pledge from Canada: "17%, to be aligned with the final economy-wide emissions target of the United States in enacted legislation."
Canada functionally has no ghg reduction commitment because the U.S. has no functional legislature.
Who is it Bloomberg thinks Canada should negotiate with?
The man American legislators don't negotiate with.
So now I'll add "ignores the work of the lead Cabinet agency on issues" to the description of the man who can't work with the House of Representatives and the Senate.

The President seems to have trouble working government agencies too. The flaghip power plant emissions rule the Environmental Protection Agency is nominally tasked with enacting was reportedly written by the non-governmental lobbyist lawyers of the Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC). Perhaps the outsourcing was necessarg given the performance of Gina McCarthy last week. McCarthy claimed to know the entire fiscal picture of the United States well enought to know what budget the Environmenatl Protection Agency merits within that picture, but doesn't appear to know anything that doesn't fit neatly within the scripted narrative of her boss.

Sessions and EPA official spar over funding
March 4, 2015 5:34 PM EST - During a Senate hearing on the 2016 budget, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy sparred over climate change statistics and requested funding for the EPA. (YouTube: Senator Sessions)
It's embarassing to watch, but what is a Canadian to do?

The Globe and Mail asked four of Canada's former ambassadors to Washington about the state of Canada-U.S. relations.
The Keystone XL pipeline is emblematic of a difference which has morphed into serious irritant.
The crisis of communication between Mr Harper and Mr. Obama, which to the outsider appears personal, has exacerbated some of these differences, rendering their resolution more complicated.
The good news is that the relationship between Canada is far greater than a pipeline, a bridge, or differences on how to deal with Israel and the U.S.-Iran nuclear negotiations. And the strength of the relationship will endure well beyond any coolness and distance between Mr. Harper and Mr. Obama.  [Michael Kergin]

...relations between Canada and the US are cool."Cool" is of course diplomatic understatement. They are more like an Ottawa winter -in the deep freeze...
...we are not alone. Our Mexican friends are deeply frustrated with Washington on immigration and the management of their border. America's European and Asian allies have been wringing their hands in despair over Washington's lack of leadership as they contend with Vladimir Putin's"New Russia," the worsening crisis in Ukraine, and China's rise and assertions of territorial sovereignty in the South and East China Sea.
Benign neglect is one thing, as is indifference but, when the actions of the Administration are punitive to Canadian interests without cause, that is malign arrogance unworthy of a neighbour and ally‎. [Derek Burney]
...Barack Obama appears to have the least appreciation of the strategic importance of Canada to the U.S. He has not put the necessary effort into the neighbourhood, including Mexico, that it deserves. But as Alan Gotlieb understood and practised, like it or not, the initiative (in this case, action on climate) must come from Canada.  [Colin Robertson]
With the possible exception of the free-trade agreement, no bilateral issue in the history of Canada-U.S. relations has exceeded in importance the building of the Keystone XL pipeline to bring Canadian oil to U.S. markets. Certainly none have ever occupied a larger place in the U.S. political process. It is remarkable that in dealing with this issue, the President has allowed the process of approval to extend over half a decade without results. It is even more remarkable that, in its various utterances, the White House has not demonstrated any recognition of the impact of their position on our historic joint energy relationship, our joint economic security interests and the uniquely integrated economic ties with the country with which they share a continent. This striking lack of sensitivity may or may not change under future Presidents. In all probability, the current state of distance in our relationship will come to be seen as anomalous. But, the implications for Canadian foreign policy are clear. In our trade and economic relations, Canada must diversify, diversify and diversify.  [Allan Gotlieb]
Going into this year's climate negotiations anybody observing Canada's Copenhagen commitment will recognize the U.S. can't commit to anything concrete.

but one can always talk...

Obama on tar sands and climate | Video | "Obama remarks at Benedict College on Keystone XL, tar sands, climate change."

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