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Obama spoke at the TransCanada Stillwater pipe yard in Cushing, Oklahoma about the Keystone XL pipeline and his energy policies. Mandel Ngan/Getty Images. Obama spoke at the TransCanada Stillwater pipe yard in Cushing, Oklahoma about the Keystone XL pipeline and his energy policies. Mandel Ngan/Getty Images.  

Environmentalists call Keystone pipeline ‘big step backward’

Environmentalists have urged President Obama to block the Keystone XL pipeline, which they argue will contribute to global warming by developing Canadian tar sands oil.

But critics are skeptical that stopping Keystone will prevent drilling for tar sands oil.

“Oil will get to market,” Canadian ambassador to the U.S. Gary Doer told an audience at a breakfast hosted by Bloomberg, adding that Keystone would reduce the cost of transporting oil and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Keystone supporters argue that without the pipeline, tar sands oil will have to get to the marketplace through less efficient means. Alberta has one of the largest tar sands deposits in the world, and Bloomberg reported that even with the Keystone pipeline, it will be hard to carry the massive amounts of oil that will come out of U.S. shale and Canadian tar sands.

“Keystone will help alleviate the lack of pipeline infrastructure, but only temporarily,” David Bouckhout, a senior commodity strategist at TD Securities told Bloomberg. “Growth of supply on both sides of the border, Bakken and Canadian supply, will outpace what Keystone’s capacity will provide in likely two to three years.”

“It gets to market with pipelines,” Doer said. “It will get to market by trains. It will get there by trucks. It will get to India, it will get to China and it will continue to have the opportunity to go to U.S. refineries, which create a lot of jobs for the United States for the manufacturing sector on the U.S. Gulf Coast.”