Victor Davis Hanson on the Keystone Pipelineby Don on Jan. 19, 2012, under Uncategorized
One of the reasons I write “Fort Buckley” is to “spread the wealth” of the good writing I see on the conservative blogosphere. To be sure, some (many?) TC.com readers don’t see the same “wealth” that I do, or even any value at all. Well, we’ll have to agree to disagree.
One of the wisest voices I’ve encountered in conservative media is that of Victor David Hanson. A classicist at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, Hanson writes for National Review and is a regular guest on The Hugh Hewitt Show, heard locally on KVOI.
On Thursday Hanson penned this gem on the downsides of President Obama’s decision to reject current plans for the Keystone pipeline.
a) Jobs in tough times? Anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 high-paying jobs were lost. These were shovel-ready and private-sector, and they would have led to the real creation of wealth — the antithesis of Solyndra. How strange — we pay tens of millions of dollars for a few hundred subsidized, money-losing jobs, while passing over thousands of money-making ones.
b) National security? While we ratchet up the pressure on Iran, as gas prices climb, and as our subsidized wind/solar alternatives fizzle, we hope that, in extremis, the Saudis can reroute their exports through the Red Sea. How strange — we cancel our own pipeline while expecting others will never do the same.
c) Environment? If the Keystone project raises environmental issues, then every other comparable one would too. It is not as if the route bisects Yosemite on its way to Big Sur. How strange — we assume that the Saudis or the Turks can build pipelines across their own lands without environmental problems, but that we, the apparently less technologically advanced, cannot. We hear that oil is “fungible”; if so, each barrel that we pass on, someone else less green won’t.
d) Financial solvency? We are now almost $16 trillion in debt, and we import over $500 billion in fossil fuels per year. The more energy we produce, or the more cheaply we can import it, or the more our export dollars stay in North America, where they can be easily rerouted into the U.S. economy, the less we, the near-insolvent, must borrow. How strange — we keep passing on projects that would increase gas and oil production and availability and earn us money, but not on wind and solar counterparts that produce little energy and lots of debt.
e) Symbolism? President Obama and his supporters recently have talked of “big” ideas and projects, as if our generation fears to gamble on a Hoover Dam or man-to-the-moon project. Yet the president passed on the one chance that he’s had in his presidency to match reality with his empty rhetoric. How strange — our elites expect unstable regimes overseas to provide us with oil (Air Force One and Warren Buffett’s jet are not powered by solar panels), and to risk their own environments to do so, and for others to lend us the money to pay for our imported oil, and for the world to insulate itself from the blackmail of oil-exporting monstrosities like Iran, but we ourselves will do little of what we advocate or expect for others.
Eventually, I think the pipeline will be built. The American market for Canadian oil is large, enduring and right next door. Moreover, China’s economy is showing signs of weakness. And, in all fairness, I think the White House and State Department have determined that the Canadians will wait, stewing with resentment, until the U.S. is ready to deal with them. (Or, until the Luddites in the U.S. environmental lobby can be placated or marginalized, whichever comes first).
(Of course, the Canadians may not be willing to wait. Recently, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper reportedly said that some Americans “would like to see Canada be one giant national park for the northern half of North America”. A wounded national pride, coupled with the lure of Chinese money now, might make the Canadians think twice about actually obeying the American environmental movement’s command to sit and stay.)
Nevertheless, when the Washington Post, whose desire to see the president win in 2008 was so blatant, is now moved to write an editorial titled “Obama’s Keystone pipeline rejection is hard to accept,” it’s hard not to notice.
UPDATED at 7:00 AM to (a) include Prime Minister Harper’s quote and (b) add some more thoughts to the paragraph immediately following Professor Hanson’s blockquote.