There has been a lot of discussion about the keystone pipeline, and whether approval should be given for its completion. A number of environmental groups have been pressuring President Obama to reject the pipeline.
The pipeline would bring crude oil from Canadian tar sands to refineries in the USA. Extracting oil from the tar sands is a particularly dirty operation, in terms of its effect on the environment. Environmentalists point to the pollution that will be caused by extracting this oil. And they remind us of the global warming problem as they argue for rejection of the pipeline.
I see this as a lot of noise, as a pointless argument. I have no personal objection to building that pipeline.
The environmentalists are correct, that extracting this oil will cause environmental damage. However, extracting the oil does not depend on the pipeline. If the pipeline is not approved, the oil is likely to still be extracted, and then shipped some other way.
As long as there are consumers wanting that oil, it will be extracted. If we want to stop the extraction, then we should favor policies that reduce consumption. If less oil is consumed, then less will be produced. The attempt to stop the production of this oil, while doing nothing about consumption, is likely to fail.
That’s the way I see it.