To most of those who have paid attention to the recent US State Department report on the Keystone XL pipeline, it would seem that the report strips opponents of the pipeline of their power. All of their objections to the pipeline give President Obama no excuse to not build the pipeline.
Unless, of course, you happen to read an extremely flawed column on the report by the Vancouver Observer's Barry Saxrifage. He insists that the report has stripped the pipeline of its power.
If only that were the case.
Among the claims that Saxrifage makes in his column are the following: the pipeline won't create permanent jobs in the United States. The pipeline will not change the supply in oil to Gulf Coast refineries, or even on the US' heavy oil supply.
Obviously, Saxrifage read the report very selectively, if at all. In any event he clearly didn't read it very closely. If he had, he may have taken notice of this passage from section 1.3 of the report, entitled "Purpose and need":
"There is existing demand by Gulf Coast area refiners for stable sources of crude oil/ Refiners in the Gulf Coast area process crude oil with a wide range of qualities, from light sweet (low sulfur content) to heavy sour (higher sulfur content). Those refiners generally have access to a wide variety of crude oils through an extensive pipeline network for delivering domestic crude oils as well as waterborne imports from countries around the world. Currently, refiners in the Gulf Coast area obtain heavy crude oil primarily via waterborne foreign imports, but the reliability of those supplies is uncertain because of declining production and political uncertainty associated with the major traditional suppliers, notably Mexico and Venezuela."
As it turns out, the Keystone XL would not only provide transportation from a more stable supply of oil, it would also provide transportation from some of the very US oil developments that Saxifrage speaks of: most notably, tight oil production from Montana's Bakken formation.
More specifically, from section 1.4 of the report:
"Gulf Coast refiners’ traditional sources of heavy crudes, particularly Mexico and Venezuela, are declining and are expected to continue to decline. This results in an outlook where the refiners have significant incentive to obtain heavy crude from the oil sands. Both the EIA’s 2013 AEO and the Hart Heavy Oil Outlook (Hart 2012b) indicate that this demand for heavy crude in the Gulf Coast refineries is likely to persist throughout their outlook periods (2040 and 2035 respectively)."
As for Saxrifage's "35 permanent jobs" number? That's a reference only to the number of jobs produced by the operation of pumping stations and the ongoing maintenance of the line. It dispenses entirely with the tens of thousands of permanent jobs to be created indirectly, in areas such as refining, upgradng, and related manufacturing, as well as in production in Bakken, Montana.
Saxrifage insists that "the pressure to say 'no' has been building."
Perhaps those demanding that Obama decline approval have been louder. But they're a minority of Americans -- only 23%. What's more, they're a number that continues to shrink, even as the ground beneath them continues to shrink.
Barry Saxrifage's column is evidence that not only is the ground among pipeline opponents shrinking, but panic is beginning to set in.