March 9th, 2013
11:41 PM ET

Why U.S. should back Keystone

By Fareed Zakaria

Later this year, the Obama administration will have to make a decision on whether to green light the Keystone pipeline – the 2,000-mile pipeline that would bring oil from the tar sands of Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. I’m sure you’ve heard all the dire warnings about it. But another way to look at it is to ask what would happen if the project does not go forward.

The U.S. Department of State released an extremely thorough report that tries to answer this question. It concludes, basically, that the oil derived from Canadian tar sands will be developed at about the same pace whether or not there is a pipeline. In other words, stopping Keystone might make us feel good, but it wouldn't really do anything about climate change.

Why? Well, given the need for oil in the U.S., Canadian producers would still get Alberta's oil to the refineries on the Gulf of Mexico. There are other pipeline possibilities, but the most likely method of transfer is by train. The report estimates that it would take daily runs of 15 trains with about 100 tanker cars each to carry the amount planned by TransCanada…And remember, moving oil by train produces much higher emissions of CO2 (from diesel locomotives) than flowing it through a pipeline.

For more on this, read the TIME column here.

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Topics: GPS Show

soundoff (108 Responses)
  1. kevin

    98% of Canadian oil comes to the United States so Fareed somewhat has a point. But I'm not sure how much of that is used here considering we have been using less oil over the past few years.

    The United States uses about 800,000,000 gallons of crude oil a day (19 million barrels a day @ 42 gallons per barrel). That's a ridiculous amount. We should put more focus on existing wind and solar projects as well as new alternative energy projects like the Atlantic Wind Connection and oceanic turbines that tap the Gulf Stream near Miami.

    Do we really need to focus on another pipeline or focus on

    March 11, 2013 at 5:30 am | Reply
  2. sand

    destroy the is north korea should nuke ireland dublin and ghana burn all of them.

    March 11, 2013 at 8:12 am | Reply
  3. Doc

    Sorry Fareed, I support the Sierra Club on this issue.

    March 11, 2013 at 8:46 am | Reply
  4. sand

    2 usa soldier got killed to day i afghanistan im dancing on the body of dead usa soldier taliban are the greatest warriors.

    March 11, 2013 at 9:16 am | Reply
    • Pete

      @sand,you're just another ignorent poster who doesn't know when to stop,so crawl back in your sand dune raghead and take your mindless rants with you!!Your meds are waiting so be quick about it slug!!And my way of taking out afghan taliban is nuke them all making their country a glass factory and let Allah sort them out,nice touch ha "sand"!!

      March 11, 2013 at 11:00 am | Reply
      • sand

        i need to dance some moore 5 moore usa soldier got killed lets do the chicken dance.

        March 12, 2013 at 12:31 am |
  5. jtsilver2th

    Lost me on this spoken- Spoken like one who needs to get out of their cubicle once a year.

    March 11, 2013 at 11:54 am | Reply
  6. Mosh

    Quit trying to sell us this poison pipeline. We do not want our water ways and land poisoned.

    March 11, 2013 at 2:41 pm | Reply
  7. Bill Baldwin

    The Global Warming issue is extremely important and we have ample proof that it is occuring due to creation of CO2 emissions. However, in looking for solutions, it is time to look at facts and not base decisions on emotions. On Sunday's GPS, the Sierra Club's rep. stated that "Oil Sands petroleum is the dirtiest fossil fuel on the planet". This is not true. As a Canadian I really resent groups who repeatedly state untrue info. Oil sands oil is not my favourite form of energy but it is not coal and it doesn't create as much emissions as coal. Secondly it is not as "dirty" as Venezuelan oil now being shipped to the US gulf coast refineries. This oil is being shipped by tanker. These refineries are built to refine heavy oil and they're good at it. Tankers create more emissions than pipelines. Until we have enough natural gas and renewable energy sources to eliminate all coal used in the world then even oil sands oil shipped by pipeline is better. A new heavy oil refinery has been proposed for the west coast of Canada and the financing is now in place. This oil will help replace coal somewhere. If our countries want the cleanest oil available, then they should exclude North american oil and import as much as is available from the middle east.

    March 11, 2013 at 3:13 pm | Reply
    • SkyMind

      Oil won't replace any coal. Oil is used for transportation fuel, not electricity. The Chinese will be fueling hundreds of millions of cars soon. That's where the oil will go, straight into the atmosphere. Better hold on to your butts – hell is coming soon!

      March 11, 2013 at 5:15 pm | Reply
      • Pete

        @SkyMind,seen the Olympics on tv in China and all those Chinese wearing paper face masks to keep the polluted air out of their lungs,I did..Or how they have to keep about 500,000 cars off the highway so olympians could race because it was so bad you could cut the air with a knife,want that here because Chinese have it now!!

        March 11, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
  8. Ted

    i'm a guy who lives in calgary alberta and what americans don't understant is how big the oilsands are stay that the oilsands are a duck alberta is just the head of the duck the body is saskatchewan and they have not really touch the oilsands there yet.3 or 4time of what alberta has and it keeps goin to manitoba which is the feet of the duck. The canadian government is alredy letting chinese oil companies buy canadian ones. There setting up hq in calgary

    March 11, 2013 at 9:54 pm | Reply
  9. Rita De Ferrary

    I think Fareed Zakaria should be replaced with a more environmentally friendly presenter. He doesn't have his facts straight and is supporting Big Dirty Oil. He has a very narrow and shortsighted viewpoint on the continuation of dirty fossil fuel burning for energy. The focus of media personalties that have sway public opinion should be moving towards a clean energy source promotion.

    And this comes on the heels of seeing a show he presented with animal testing plainly shown to viewers. Friendly banter between him and the researcher went on discussing the research while a monkey was bolted into a metal cage with electrodes implanted in its skull. The researcher quipped how the monkey loved playing the computer game as long as she was rewarded with orange juice.

    Fareed Zakaria could really do a great deal of good in his position, but seems to come up short on the protection of the environment, and promoting the concept of computerized simulation to replace animal testing.

    I am disappointed in his continual outdated position that he takes on important issues that need evolve leaving this world a better place for the environment, animals, and humans.

    March 12, 2013 at 1:44 am | Reply
  10. ThePoint

    Aside from the fact that this is an internet article and not a lot of detail has been devoted to the subject (like almost all articles written for internet online magazines) I think we are mostly missing the point here. If they are going to ship it to texas regardless of the pipeline or not, then the transporation method is the only method up for discussion. If we are going to make this a discussion on which is the least dangerous in terms of exposure to the content of the pipe versus the cost of the transportation method in its impact on the environment, then a new article needs to be written. This article does not address those discussion topics, so arguing who is the most knowledgeable is immaterial. It is also immaterial if we think that Texas can handle the product or not. If they can, they will ship it/deliver the content. If not they won't. Nobody wants product sitting around worth millions for months not being sold. All else fails they will ship it to Asia via their western shore, it all depends on the profit margins. If the U.S. Government provides them a significant cost in terms of time and manpower, then that will push them to move the product towards Asia where only internal governance will be an issue. Ultimately if the environmental concerns are the only issue that matters tot eh discussion, then we need an article that describes the potential environmental impact from a railcar disaster versus a pipeline disaster, in terms of the odds of occurance, scale of impact, and recovery period. And writing this article with detailed information as it relates to the technology & safety features that will be utilized for the construction that the pipeline.

    March 12, 2013 at 10:46 am | Reply
  11. Marie Arrington

    Please, please if you love your country don't let this insanity (pipelines) into your lands. Those of you that are for this go to northern Alberta for a vacation and see what it has done to the land, water and air. It is truly deplorable and criminal. Our prime minister said when he was elected that when he was through "you wouldn't recognize this country" well he has really been right and it will take more than my lifetime to correct all the messes he has made of my beautiful country.

    March 12, 2013 at 11:04 am | Reply
    • Crazylibs

      what do you expect from an indian? you actually think they care about the US?

      March 12, 2013 at 11:15 am | Reply
  12. Ted

    The only reason the pipeline does't go through British Columbia is because the b.c government wants to much money from alberta it's nothing to do with environmental. British Columbia basically almost want to have a 50-50 split with alberta on the oil.

    March 12, 2013 at 11:17 am | Reply
  13. Pragmatic Albertan

    This is a simple case of supply and demand. Your US market has a significant demand for a secure, mid to long term high volume supply of crude oil. Based on this requirement, energy companies exploited the vast oil sands resources in Northern Canada and are now seeking the safest, most economically viable way of getting the product to your market. Denying the reality of your current situation doesn't change things. Canadian oil sands product WILL be destined for your Gulf Coast refineries. Pipeline transportation will be safer and more efficient than rail – and the high value jobs that will be created in your country will further assist in your economic recovery. Taxes and tariffs from this oil will flow to Americans.

    I acknowledge that the continued expansion of the use of fossil fuels is untenable for the long term, but until sufficient alternative, sustainable sources are in place there needs to be an acceptance of "right-for-now" solutions. Don't let the search for the perfect become the enemy of the good. And make no mistake, Keystone is a good solution – for now.

    March 12, 2013 at 11:36 am | Reply
  14. Brian32

    Stupid pipeline full of some of the dirtiest oil in the world. Caused 35 leaks in the first year of construction so far, ruining some agriculture. This oil is not intended for US Americans, it's almost 100% for export only, it was already said that we dont even have the equipment to refine this oil for it to be clean enough to use. It's created less then 2000 temp jobs that will not exist after completion and basically created 50 permanent jobs. Biggest waste of tax money, disaster from the start and dumbest idea from yours truly the GOP/TeaPublicans.

    March 12, 2013 at 7:06 pm | Reply
  15. Koumintan

    Why you should not steal other's ariticle.... Once you are stealer, you never recover credibility.

    March 12, 2013 at 11:36 pm | Reply
  16. mique

    It is the protection of our water that is the most important issue. I do not trust these companies to be the least bit concerned about our water sources, just their profits.

    March 13, 2013 at 7:36 am | Reply
  17. vsaiz

    Screw big Oil to Hell with Keystone

    March 13, 2013 at 11:45 am | Reply
  18. Connie

    I am sorry but we do need to block the pipeline. I know Fareed you are a numbers guy so check out Jeremy Grantham on why we should not complete the pipeline. We have to move to alternative energy this may be the tipping point for such action.

    March 13, 2013 at 12:03 pm | Reply
  19. dbgo

    This is a rather interesting "take"...unlike most of FZ's posts this one argues for negating all aspects in this discussion and doing what "must be done" before we lose it. The pre-emptive legitimization of the argument by "I was just there, I know" is a little juvenile for FZ's usual takes. I was just in Hawaii but that does not make me an expert in surfing. The argument should be: IF there are strict guidelines that safeguard our environment-water supplies (the FUNCTION of EISs and DUE PROCESS), along with guarantees of fair business to protect the risk-takers (U.S. consumer) then we must by all means exploit this resource. As this article reads, it seems FZ has put on the cheerleading suit for big oil.

    March 13, 2013 at 12:10 pm | Reply
  20. dbgo

    This is a rather interesting "take"...unlike most of FZ's posts this one argues for negating all aspects in this discussion and just doing what "must be done" before we lose it. The pre-emptive legitimization of the argument by "I was just there, I know" is a little juvenile for FZ's usual takes. I was just in Hawaii but that does not make me an expert in surfing. The argument should be: IF there are strict guidelines that safeguard our environment-water supplies (the FUNCTION of EISs and DUE PROCESS), along with guarantees of fair business to protect the risk-takers (U.S. consumer) then we must by all means exploit this resource. As this article reads, it seems FZ has put on the cheerleading suit for big oil.

    March 13, 2013 at 12:11 pm | Reply
  21. Gary

    What is missing in this discussion is that the global society must quickly STOP using all forms of fuels that are intense in greenhouse gas emissions. So while the pipeline may be no worse than coal, we need to STOP using coal. Combustion of the conventional sources of oil may allow the planet to maintain its current state. However, if we emit too much – and all the carbon in the Alberta Deposits will make it too much – then the earth will go into a state similar to the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum during which the poles were tropical and it is uncertain whether life existed on the equator.

    March 14, 2013 at 9:16 pm | Reply
  22. 100 % ETHIO

    Too good, to tell truth.

    Canada must advertise its Sand Oil on Major American and Canadian Media.
    Let more people know about it.
    Of course, it is better to get Oil from Canada than those... arabians.

    Give it a heat, on commercial.

    March 15, 2013 at 5:14 am | Reply
  23. Paulg5

    Do your research, CNN


    March 23, 2013 at 10:54 am | Reply
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    July 16, 2013 at 3:28 pm | Reply
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