KXL the Keystone of US/Canada Relations No Longer

The October jobs report may have helped nudge the formal announcement out of the West Wing today, although Mr. Harper’s defeat by the liberals and Justin Trudeau last month was surely the laboring oar.

As has been widely reported, the KXL application will be denied.  Our stories about KXL (like here) noted the challenges inherent in counting greenhouse gas emissions from something like the Alberta tar sands.  In weighing a single infrastructure project (even an immense one) meant to speed development, it proved exceedingly hard to synthesize good accounting rules sorting out which emissions to attribute to the project and which to expect would occur regardless.

The Obama Administration was quick to put the limited upside of approval in focus, though.  Cribbing from the N.Y. Times’ coverage:

The construction would have had little impact on the nation’s economy. A State Department analysis concluded that building the pipeline would have created jobs, but the total number represented less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the nation’s total employment. The analysis estimated that Keystone would support 42,000 temporary jobs over its two-year construction period — about 3,900 of them in construction and the rest in indirect support jobs, such as food service. The department estimated that the project would create about 35 permanent jobs.

So the fait accompli is now stitched down formally.  Who knows when oil prices will rebound.  But when they do, replacing KXL will certainly pop up again.


I teach environmental, natural resources, and administrative law at Penn State Law. Before teaching I was an enforcement lawyer at U.S. EPA. Along the way I've done work for environmental nonprofits and written a fair bit about NEPA.
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