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Jen Alic

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Keystone XL: Celebrities Won't Help the Cause

Both the protest movement against Keystone XL and the industry attempt to prove that Americans want it, are irrelevant: Keystone is set in stone and nothing indicates this more clearly than the president’s state of the union address. 

To balance out the increasingly high-profile nature of protests in Washington, DC, the American Petroleum Institute (API) has released a new poll attempting to demonstrate that a majority of voters have bipartisan support for Keystone XL—a six-state, multi-billion-dollar pipeline that would link Canadian crude oil supplies with US refineries.

According to the poll, 69% of Americans in favor of building Keystone XL, with 83% of those believe it would boost energy security and 92% believe it would help the job situation. The results represent a majority of support from both Republican and Democrat voters as well as independents and the poll was conducted with 1,001 voters. 

Related article: Is Canada Preparing For Keystone XL No Vote?

On the other side of the equation we have protests in Washington, DC, which have been hijacked by celebrities.  The Sierra Club—a longtime foe of Keystone XL—has also changed its modus operandi, having its director get involved in physical protests outside the White House on 13 February.

It wasn’t a very big protest—only about 48 people—but it was a media circus because it involved the leadership of the Sierra Club and a couple of “celebrities” (Daryl Hannah and Julian Bond) and it was intended as a preview.  

On 17 February, protests in Washington saw “thousands” gathered to demand action on climate change, with Keystone XL the biggest catalyst (Obama wasn’t around—he’s in Florida).

What these protests are really about is not Keystone XL itself, but the fact that the construction of this pipeline would boost the development of dirty tar sands as an oil resource, and this is the climate connection.

What is interesting is that the Sierra Club’s change in tactic. Direct involvement in the protest movement suggests that the Sierra Club sees which way the winds are blowing and understands that the Obama Administration will green light Keystone XL.

Related article: Super Majors Need to Step Up Their Oil Game

The Sierra Club clearly feels betrayed. Obama promised them climate change would be a top priority, and they view Keystone as anathema to such.

Still, Sierra Club director Michael Brune is hoping to make things happen by predicting that Obama will veto the $7 billion project because of the adverse effects development of the Canadian oil sands would have on the global climate. Brune’s predictions are likely wishful thinking.

Perhaps the biggest hint that Keystone XL will move ahead was found in the president’s State of the Union address and his unveiling of what he has dubbed the “Energy Security Trust”.

This Trust is attempting to cleverly straddle two worlds here, by promoting increased oil and gas production at home in order to raise money to fund renewable energy ambitions.  In essence, it means that oil and gas companies will be paying for renewable energy with their new profits from expanded drilling and production. This is why federal lands are being opened up to oil and gas companies, and why Keystone will proceed.

By. Jen Alic of Oilprice.com




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