From the Heritage Foundation.
[…][I]f you visit the drilling sites in Williston, N.D., you discover an amazing phenomenon: At night, this little energy town of fewer than 30,000 people lights up like Manhattan on New Year’s Eve. All these lights are flares burning off the natural gas that was drilled that day. Why on earth would the drillers do that? Because they want oil, which sells at $100 a barrel, as opposed to natural gas, which is now so abundant that it’s cheap.
But why don’t they sell the natural gas too? Because they don’t have the pipeline capacity to bring it to the markets where it’s needed. So they are burning off an energy source, without capturing the power. What a waste.
The pipelines aren’t getting built, simply because the government isn’t letting them get built. It has been an eye-opening experience to watch liberals block an infrastructure project — the Keystone XL pipeline — that two of three Americans (and even a plurality of Democrats) support. Pew had an amazing poll last month reporting that just about every demographic group in America supports the Keystone pipeline, except for Democrats with Ph.D.s and Democrats who earn more than $100,000.
But this problem goes well beyond the Keystone pipeline. We need to build in America a national network of pipelines from coast to coast, much as Eisenhower built the interstate highway system. Unlike the highways, the private sector will gladly build the pipelines; they just need the permits. And Uncle Sam won’t give them out.
We are talking about a lot of jobs here — and really high-paying, often union, jobs. Welders and pipe fitters and construction workers and truckers earn $70,000 or more — well above the median salary in America.
But the environmentalists hate pipelines because they encourage drilling, and drilling is bad because it kills windmills, er, the planet. The enviros have been running a campaign in Washington to keep the oil and gas in the ground. And if you can’t transport it, why drill it? These activists are the same sort of people who opposed the Great Alaska Pipeline back in the 1970s. Can you imagine how much we’d be in hock to the Saudis these days if we’d listened to their loopy advice back then?
And since they won’t allow pipelines, we use trains and trucks — which is much worse for the environment than building the pipelines. Remember the rail crash several weeks ago with massive explosions? Thank the Sierra Club.
Meanwhile, in Canada, where the Conservative Party is firmly opposed to global warming nonsense, the government has decided to build pipelines from Alberta to the West and East coasts.
Foreign Minister John Baird said Sunday he’s sure there will be a pipeline from Alberta’s oilsands to the Pacific coast.
Without mentioning the Northern Gateway specifically, Baird sounded confident when discussing pipelines on Fox News on Sunday morning.
Asked for his thoughts on recent comments from former U.S. energy secretary Spencer Abraham, who expressed doubt President Barack Obama will approve the Keystone XL pipeline, Baird said Canada’s energy resources are vast and that he expects a decision from the president within two months.
“Listen, we want to get this project approved,” he said on the U.S. network. “We want to work with our American friends, our partners in freedom and liberty.
“At the same time there will be pipelines going to the Pacific coast and even reverse pipelines going to the Atlantic so we can diversify our markets.”
I expect that Republicans will be making a big deal of the jobs that could be created if we the government were giving out the appropriate energy production permits and approving the Keystone Pipeline. I think people will be responsive to a message like that when Obamacare kicks in for employer-provided health care and employers start to cut jobs. I know the Democrats are happy right now keeping everyone on unemployment payments, but eventually, that money is going to run out. It might not be tomorrow, but it’s coming one day.