STEWARD: Obama’s pipeline to nowhere

Ending Keystone XL in Oklahoma symbolizes shortsighted energy policy

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President Obama is slowly walking back his decision to nix the Keystone XL oil pipeline after weathering significant backlash from unions, pro-business groups and the public. But rather than green light the critical infrastructure project linking Canadian oil with American refineries, Mr. Obama has struck a truly astonishing compromise sure to please no one: a pipeline to nowhere.

The $7 billion, 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline would connect the oil sands of Alberta, Canada, with American refineries on the Gulf Coast. Mr. Obama rejected the project in January to placate environmental extremists who fear an increased release of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) will cause a climate change catastrophe, a theory that just doesn’t hold up in the face of empirical evidence.

His move backfired as unions - typically allies of the president - and pro-business groups slammed the decision while Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper wasted no time in signaling Canada would look elsewhere, particularly China, to sell its oil. In fact, PetroChina has now surpassed ExxonMobil in crude oil production. China’s leaders are buying oil and securing rights to new production while the Obama administration shuns new supplies.

Realizing that he’s making more enemies than friends with his decision, Mr. Obama now hopes to placate his opponents by allowing construction of the pipeline from the Gulf Coast to - wait for it - Oklahoma. That’s about 1,200 miles short of the Canadian oil sands. The decision is already drawing criticism from all sides as Republicans are rightfully calling it an empty half-measure while environmental extremists accuse the president of caving to special interests.

Mr. Obama announced his pipeline to nowhere during his energy-policy roadshow designed to help shield him from the effects of rising gas prices his advisers fear will harm his re-election bid. That roadshow highlights the Obama administration’s mixed bag of solar-panel programs, subsidized “green jobs” and gifts to climate-change alarmists.

It’s not unusual to hear defenders complain that the president doesn’t set energy prices. He doesn’t set them but it’s ludicrous to pretend the president’s actions and policies don’t have a strong influence on energy prices and therefore, he shouldn’t share blame when they go up. Mr. Obama has done everything in his power to shake the energy markets and spur the rise in prices at the pump.

Lest we forget, it was candidate Barack Obama who stated confidently that energy prices will “necessarily rise” as a result of his energy policies, particularly those designed to curb CO2 emissions. While “Cap and Trade” - the overt proposal to spike energy prices to make alternative energies more competitive - is essentially dead, Mr. Obama remains determined to achieve the same goals.

In addition to bungling Keystone, the president has moved to severely limit offshore drilling and the development of shale oil. Just last week, his Environmental Protection Agency announced new CO2 emissions rules for coal-fired plants that puts the future of coal - America’s most abundant energy source - into question.

Wall Street “speculators” make for a convenient foil for Mr. Obama as gas prices rise in an election year, but it is the president’s very “pipeline to nowhere” policies that add fuel to the fire of market uncertainty over domestic energy production and world events as our dependence on foreign supplies escalates.

The unfortunate reality here is who gets hurt: working and middle-class American families. Energy companies raise their prices as government roadblocks and higher taxes make doing business more expensive. Other companies follow suit and pass higher production and transportation costs on to consumers. At the end of this cycle stands Americans struggling to make ends meet, who must now absorb this new burden of paying for futile efforts to stop the climate from changing.

This mess of energy policies could be avoided if we recognize that climate-change alarmists are leading the world down an economically suicidal road littered with manipulated climate models, intimidation tactics, fear and fraud. Empirical data strongly contradicts computer models that blame CO2 as the primary driver of climate change. Insisting that climate science is “settled,” they refuse all debate for fear of losing their funding, influence and reputations.

America is now entering a dangerous new phase of energy policy - one that will determine our economic future for years to come. We possess the largest energy reserves in the world but allow climate alarmists wielding junk computer models to steer decisions that affect us all. America needs serious solutions to meet our energy needs. Mr. Obama’s “Pipeline to Nowhere” isn’t one of them.

H. Leighton Steward is a geologist and retired energy-industry executive. He is chairman of Plants Need CO2.

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