It should have been a very simple proposition. The U.S. needs energy. Canada has oil. There is a way to transport oil from Canada through the U.S. for refining. Create a few thousand construction jobs, generate a few million or more in tax revenue, everybody goes home happy. Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) learned the hard way that it really wasn’t a simple proposition. But the man is tireless; his attempt to build as much of the Keystone XL pipeline as possible is one of “several” related bills he’s failed to pass.
This bill comes on the heels of the announcement that Canadian oil company Nexen would be sold to the China National Offshore Oil Corporation, which, as you can guess from the name, is operated by the state. Terry’s bill would approve the construction of all of the pipeline except for the portion running through Nebraska. Past attempts to build Keystone XL have stalled because of the Obama administration’s demands for further environmental review of that part of the route.
A reliable source informs me that residents of the province of Alberta, where most of Canada’s oil can be found, are thrilled at the prospect of that sale (over $15 billion!). Other Canadians are wary of cozying up to China any more than is necessary; they don’t want a Canadian resource to pay for any regime activities. Terry is using this to make the point that the U.S. should be a reliable customer for Canada, lest an unreliable customer appear. Kind of late for that.
I still have a few doubts about Keystone XL, seeing as nobody has produced completely credible projections for job creation, oil prices and environmental impact; existing numbers have primarily come from people with their own stake in it, positive or negative. The only remotely neutral source I found was on PolitiFact, which says claims of a jobs revolution are greatly exaggerated. Jobs in America, anyway; Canada, India and Italy would each rack up a few.
But this try by Terry could still be more effective than his others. The portion he wants to build would start at the Canadian border and stop at Nebraska; there’s not much room for presidential objections that way. Of course, he’s going to attach this to a routine spending bill, which may be crafty lawmaking for him but is still plenty annoying for congressional inefficiency hawks like myself. If he wanted to be craftier, though, he would introduce legislation requiring an exhaustive study of every possible contingency of Keystone XL.
In other pipeline news, two Canadian premiers are fighting over who deserves to get rich off another one. First U.S. states to complain about this stuff, if Keystone XL is built, go on my shit list.