NRDC: Repeal the Law of Unintended Consequences

By Stephen Eule

Some things have to be seen to be believed. Take this doozey of a press release from the Natural Resources Defense Council: “NRDC Report: Tar Sands Tankers in U.S. Waters Could Skyrocket 12-Fold Under Canadian Producers' Plans.”

The presser begins with this startling insight: “Canadian oil producers have roared back from President Obama's rejection of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline with a scheme to send hundreds of tar sands-laden oil tankers and barges down the East and West coasts and the Mississippi River, the Natural Resources Defense Council warned in a report released today.”

Has it occurred to NRDC that maybe, just maybe, its opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline was a bit, ah, shortsighted? Fuggedaboutit. Self-reflection isn’t one of the organization’s strong suits.

It’s not like these new transportation arrangements weren’t anticipated. The Department of State gets it. Its Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS) for the pipeline concludes that approval or denial of any one crude oil transport project would be unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands or the continued demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the U.S. (The FSEIS also states that the pipeline would produce 28% – 42% less greenhouse gas emissions than any other possible alternative oil sands transportation scenarios, but a story for another day.)

Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau,  made a similar point:  “. . . there isn’t a country in the world that would find billions of barrels of oil and leave it in the ground while there is a market for it,” while also noting that “state-of-the-art pipelines provide the safest route to get our resources to market.” Try telling that to NRDC.

At the end of the day, it’s really pretty simple: Canada’s oil producers supply a commodity that U.S. refiners want. If they can’t move it one way—via a pipeline, for instance—they’ll do it another—via oil tankers and barges. That’s the way the real world works.

That NRDC finds this shocking is priceless. NRDC might also be shocked to learn that gambling goes on in Rick’s.



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