Off The Record: The winners of the Keystone rejection

President Obama won’t be giving the Keystone pipeline a green light on construction and his mind won’t change before he’s out of office.

U.S. President Barack Obama won’t be giving the Keystone pipeline a green light on construction and his mind won’t change before he’s out of office.

For the sake of job creation and appeasing Big Oil (fossil fuel-dealing businesses which presumably have substantial political influence), I used to be under the impression that Keystone would be going ahead under the Obama administration. But I’ve since come to suspect that businesses and industries with conflicting interests are happy with the lack of progress — they may even be enticing the stall. Alliances may have been formed by default — perhaps between the overseas importers of the raw crude, or maybe railway and trucking companies whose services would become obsolete.

As billionaire businessmen trying to get richer; they’re especially susceptible to throat-cutting. Not everybody who holds the top one per cent of wealth got there through pipeline construction. And to prevent themselves from losing market share, disrupting TransCanada’s business plan would be a logical strategy. The concerns of genuine environmentalists probably played a role in Mr. Obama’s announcement to veto, but I suspect that they were aided by some friends in high places — because it couldn’t have been cheap to convince the leader of the Free World to forgo the amount of economic activity promised by TransCanada.

Oil companies that plan on profitting from the Keystone pipeline are presumably offering donations to the US Republican Party. But the oil companies that don’t have a stake in Keystone won’t passively watch their competition build a massive revenue tool. For a relatively small cost (via donation to the Democratic Party, Greenpeace, etc.), they can hamper the progress of their opponents by signing cheques in the name of environmentalism.

It could seem hypocritical of the Democratic Party and environmental organizations if they are accepting the blood money from other oil companies. But in furthering their own interests, they’d be foolish not to lobby for more. Having said that, counter-intuitive donations shouldn’t sit well with voters — they highlight another layer of dishonesty in our political system.

There are many strong arguments on both sides as to whether or not the construction of the Keystone pipeline will make the world a better place. But while one side probably has a better understanding of the big picture, enough money can compellingly argue any truth. Hopefully it will be logic strong and reasonable enough to determine the outcome, and not the financial interests of, say, BNSF Railway or China National Petroleum.

Dan Walton is a reporter for The Valley Echo and can be reached at dan@invermerevalleyecho.com .

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