An Addendum and Some Brief Comments

November 16, 2014 § Leave a comment


I have updated yesterday’s post concerning the Keystone Pipeline.  The post had a link to Lou Dubose’s article in the Washington Spectator but, for some reason, the link did have the usual appearance .  So, you probably did not realize it was a link.  I have updated the post to include a link to the article and have designated it as a link.  Lou’s article is not lengthy but it includes some information I did not include in my post.

Also, the Curmudgeon in Wisconsin, a friend and follower of this blog, commented on my post and included a link to a story in the Minnesota Star Tribune describing the current status of the Public Utilities Commission proceeding concerning Enbridge’s application for a permit to lay its new pipeline across the State.  Here is a link to that story:

Also, in the penultimate paragraph of my “Playpen Politics” post, I quoted a panelist on a TV show who said that the Keystone Pipeline would create “about 30,000” construction jobs.  I commented they would be temporary jobs.  After further research, I discovered that the 30,000 figure is probably inflated.  I found an article in Forbes magazine entitled, “Pipe Dreams:  How Many Jobs Will Be Created by the XL Pipeline?”.  The article cites various theories proposed by different analysts.  They vary widely but, considered as a whole, they conclude that the number of construction jobs may be as few as 13,000.   Here is a link to the Forbes article:  Forbes.

A Brief Comment

I have some concern about the news that Harry Reid has “rewarded” Senator Elizabeth Warren with a position on a leadership committee charged with crafting policy ideas for Democratic Party members of the Senate.

I hope, of course, that his decision represents a recognition that Senate Democrats need to focus attention away from pleasing their corporate campaign campaign contributors and toward the economic inequality that is beggaring the American working class.  If that is the objective, Senator Warren is an obvious choice because she has been like a laser pointing at that injustice.

My fear is that, on the contrary, Reid’s decision is more like a way of managing Senator Warren so that she does not unduly disturb the cozy relationship between Senate Democrats and their financial  supporters.

This latter motivation was once memorably expressed by President Lyndon Johnson, in an example of his genteel Texas style.  He was talking about his reluctance to fire J. Edgar Hoover, the Director of the FBI.  He wanted to fire him but decided not to.  He explained his reluctance, ”Well, it’s probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside pissing in.” [Quoted by Davide Halberstam in a long article entitled “The Vantage Point” reviewing books about LBJ] [NY Times.  October 31, 1971]

Some Keystone Facts

November 15, 2014 § 2 Comments

Lou Dubose manages a bi-weekly newsletter called The Washington Spectator.  I became aware of it when I met him at the Texas Observer anniversary party in Austin a few weeks ago.  I have become a subscriber.

In his November 11th issue he posted a story about a Canadian company, Enbridge, Inc. .  That company, like TransCanada, is in the tar sands oil business in Calgary Canada.  TransCanada is the owner of the Keystone XL pipeline, the subject of the currently brewing political battle over a 1700 mile right-of-way across the United States to deliver oil to the Gulf Coast for transhipment to other countries.

Here is a link to Dubose’s story:  Spectator.

Dubose’s story is not about TransCanada.  He writes about Enbridge’s clever strategy to evade and avoid opposition from federal authorities.  So far, those maneuvers have been successful.  Here is how Dubose describes the route across the United States:  “The Alberta Clipper [Enbridge’s name for their pipeline] begins in Alberta, crosses the Canadian border, and continues for 327 miles, ending at a tank battery in Superior, Wisconsin. From there, the oil would flow to Cushing, Oklahoma, then to the Gulf Coast for refining and export.”

The State Department has authority to decide whether this kind of transborder pipeline is “in the public interest of the United States”.  Enbridge has cleverly used a permit granted in 1967 to authorize its plan for the Alberta Clipper.  In 1967, tar sands had not become a major source of oil.  Much of the research concerning climate change had not been done.

Alberta Clipper’s path crosses Minnesota.  In 2010, an Enbridge pipeline ruptured and spilled an historic amount of gasoline into a major river in Minnesota.  The resulting damage is still being cleaned up  at a cost of  more than a billion dollars.  The Minnesota Public Utility Commission is understandably concerned about a new. larger Enbridge pipeline crossing the State.  That agency is trying to force Enbridge to agree to some route changes and safety measures.  Meanwhile, plans for the Alberta Clipper are on hold.

The federal government, however, is offering no opposition to Enbridge’s plans.  Dubose quotes a “State Department spokesperson” as follows:  “. . . “In the case of Line 3, the department determined that Enbridge’s proposed replacement of the border segment was consistent with the authorization in the existing presidential permit.”  “Line 3” is a reference to the Alberta Clipper’s crossing route from Canada to the U.S. .

All of which makes me wonder:  Is this like a magician’s trick?  Waving a red scarf to distract the audience’s attention while palming an object to create the illusion of a magical disappearance?   Lou Dubose doesn’t spell it out.  Like a good reporter, Dragnet  style, he offers, “just the facts”.   We have been watching an exciting investigation of the Keystone XL pipeline, still in progress, while the new GOP majority in Congress prepares to force its approval as a show of strong opposition to President Obama.   But what difference does it make if, regardless of the ultimate outcome, only a state agency in Minnesota stands between Enbridge and accomplishing the same objective as TransCanada?  Is the real argument going on in Minnesota?

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