Five Things Obama Got Wrong In His Keystone XL Speech

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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President Barack Obama just rejected plans to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline Friday, arguing the project wouldn’t do much for the economy and would undercut U.S. efforts to fight global warming.

But is Obama right when he says the pipeline wouldn’t bring that many economic benefits and undercut American efforts to cut its carbon dioxide emissions?

Here’s the top five things Obama got wrong in his Keystone XL speech:

1. Global warming will make Earth ‘uninhabitable in our lifetime’

Obama admitted Keystone XL itself would not cause catastrophic global warming, but warned that inaction would cause the Earth to become “inhospitable” and “uninhabitable” within our lifetimes.

This statement may play well with left-wing environmentalists, but it’s not grounded in science. Increasingly, scientists are finding that Earth’s sensitivity to carbon dioxide is not very high — about 1.6 degrees Celsius by 2100 if CO2 concentrations double. That’s hardly enough temperature rise to make the planet “uninhabitable.”

2. Keystone XL wouldn’t make a ‘meaningful long-term contribution to our economy’

Obama scoffed at the projected job creation from Keystone XL, saying they paled in comparison to what passing a bipartisan infrastructure plan would do for the economy.

While it’s true a nationwide infrastructure building program would create more construction jobs than a single pipeline, it’s disingenuous to then conclude Keystone would bring little to no long-term benefits to the economy.

Keystone would move more than 800,000 barrels of oil per day through the U.S. to refineries on the Gulf Coast, and it would serve as way to get oil from one of the world’s largest oil plays to market. With world oil demand expected to increase in the long-run, it may not be such a bad idea.

The right-leaning American Action Forum has reported Obama’s seven-year delay to make a decision on Keystone XL cost Americans $175 billion in lost private sector income — that’s $42 million a day.

3. Keystone XL wouldn’t lower gas prices

Obama argues Keystone wouldn’t lower gas prices because… gas prices are already low.

This argument is weak. Keystone XL may not have an immediate impact on gasoline prices, but it could definitely have a long-run impact on gas prices as 800,000 barrels of oil sands are brought to market every day.

That’s about what Iran estimates it will put onto the market daily once economic sanctions against them are lifted — needless to say, this has OPEC, Russia and others worried that oil prices will be depressed for many more years. Cheap oil means cheap gasoline.

4. Keystone wouldn’t help U.S. energy security

Obama says Keystone wouldn’t have increased the security of America’s energy supplies. The president said his strategy of reducing reliance on oil from unstable parts of the world has worked to make the country more energy secure. He also gave himself credit for the U.S. oil boom — which is blatantly false.

Obama’s making the argument that getting more oil from Canada, our largest trading partner and ally, wouldn’t increase U.S. energy security. Interestingly enough, all those years Obama was deciding whether or not to approve Keystone, the U.S. paid more than $1 trillion to five countries for oil, including Russia, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia.

5. Keystone XL would ‘undercut’ U.S. leadership on global warming

Obama said approving Keystone XL would “undercut” America’s leadership role on global warming — which his administration thinks is crucial to getting a global climate deal in Paris this year.

Symbolically it may, but in real life not building Keystone XL could result in more carbon dioxide emissions. An American Action Forum study found that delaying the project caused 7.4 million more tons of CO2 to be released and 979,356 gallons of additional crude to be spilled.

Pipelines are the most efficient and environmentally friendly way to transport oil over long distances, and just because Obama never approved Keystone doesn’t mean oil wasn’t being moved from remote parts of Canada into America. All that crude had to be moved by train or truck, which are less environmentally friendly.

It should also be noted the State Department’s own review of the project would have no impact on global warming or the environment.

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