White House Policy: Iranian Oil Good, Keystone XL Bad

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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The Obama administration’s effort to ease sanctions on Iran could unleash about 800,000 barrels of crude oil per day onto international markets within just a few months — a development the White House welcomes.

Ironically, this is about the same amount of oil the Keystone XL pipeline would have eventually brought to market from Canada had it been approved by President Obama. The president vetoed a bill earlier this year, and has said approving the pipeline “could be disastrous.”

Obama has also said  the government needs to “make sure that it’s not adding to the problem of carbon and climate change… and we have to weigh that against the amount of jobs that it’s actually going to create, which aren’t a lot,”

“Essentially, this is Canadian oil passing through the United States to be sold on the world market. It’s not going to push down gas prices here in the United States,” Obama said on the Colbert Report last year. “It’s good for Canada.”

But so far, President Obama has been silent on the carbon dioxide emissions impact from increased Iranian production. Critics are saying Obama is favoring Iranian oil, pumped from a hostile regime, instead of oil from Canada, our neighbor and arguably closest ally.

“If the impact of those 800,000 barrels (most of which would get to market even without the pipeline) are so problematic, how much more so would be the 800,000 barrels/day that are projected to get to the market from Iran if the international sanctions are lifted?” Heritage Foundation economist David Kreutzer wrote.

“This is especially true given that, unlike the Keystone Pipeline oil, the Iranian barrels do not have alternative avenues to the market in the absence of lifting the sanctions,” Kreutzer added, using an argument made by Keystone XL pipeline opponents.

Environmental groups and Democratic lawmakers have heavily opposed the Keystone XL pipeline on the grounds that it will make global warming worse and cause more oil spills on its route from Alberta, Canada to Gulf Coast refineries.

Activists say Keystone XL will be a major contributor to global warming because building the project would make it more economical to transport oil sands — making the pipeline responsible for that boom in production.

Well, as Kreutzer notes, this logic also applies to ending oil sanctions on Iran as its the main mechanism keeping their oil off the market.

As for the actual environmental impacts of Keystone XL– the State Department’s own analysis found the pipeline would have little to no impact on the environment or the climate because Canadian oil sands will be brought to market even if Keystone isn’t built.

“Does [Secretary of State John Kerry] think a potential nuclear weapon of mass destruction will be negated by the 800,000 barrels a day climate weapon of mass destruction?” Kreutzer asked. “Who knows, but the Obama administration and its environmentalist allies are all strangely quiet on the topic.”

As for whether or not environmentalists take a position on the Iran deal, it may just depend on who you ask. A spokesman for the Natural Resources Defense Council told The Daily Caller News Foundation the group did not have a position on easing Iranian sanctions.

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