Robert Bennett: Keystone: What difference does it make?

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  • RedShirtMIT Cambridge, MA
    March 6, 2014 8:30 a.m.

    To "UtahBlueDevil" Are you trying to lecture me. I also know that for an oil company to put in a pipeline they have to go through the same regulatory and zoning laws that the natural gas companies have to go through.

    So again, what is the difference between an oil company building a pipeline any any other utility or cable TV provider?

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    March 5, 2014 9:10 p.m.

    Redshirt... you are really trying to lecture me on T&D? If you aren't clear on the the differences between the national grid system, and the pipelines, how they are governed, managed and regulated.... we really have no basis for discussion. Lets just say that while the parallels you are trying to draw here may seem logical enough... they are not representative of how things really work. I would gladly stack my experience in this area to your reading in the area anytime....

    Twin Lights... Utilities have access to eminent domain, but it is not a power they have unto themselves. Any easements they are granted are done through regulatory and zoning commissions. It isn't something they can do on their own. They operate under charter - they can not themselves take land in anyway. Once an easement is established, they do have broad power over access to that land.

  • cmsense Kaysville, UT
    March 5, 2014 8:02 p.m.

    Thanks Sen. Bennett! You are a thoughtful man. Too bad CMV wasn't around when you weren't allowed to be elected by the sensible majority. Utah just isn't as conservative or as impractical as Mike Lee.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    March 5, 2014 10:12 a.m.

    To "UtahBlueDevil" I really worry about the quality of your work.

    Lets look at it this way. When Rockey Mountain Power, a privatly owned and operated company, wants to build new electric power lines to transport electrons from the power plant to a city, how would cross a farm to deliver power?

    Wind and solar projects have used eminent domain to connect their power plants to the local utilities. See "Transmission lines would send Kansas wind power to eastern U.S." in the Lawrence Journal.

    Why wouldn't it be an asset? Pipelines are less prone to leaks and spills than trains or trucks. Little has to be done to defend a pipeline. Isn't it in the public interest to lower risk of oil contamination to the environment?

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    March 5, 2014 8:47 a.m.


    Just to be clear, most utility companies are private companies and have the power of eminent domain (as regulated by the overseeing state board).

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    March 4, 2014 10:44 p.m.

    Redshirt... you asked "To "silo" how is this any different than the use of emminent domain for a road, highway, airport, wind farm, or solar project?"

    Real easy answer. The people or the state owns the road, highway, airport, etc.... (wind farms and solar projects are not being built on condemned land via eminent domain - any more so than are oil wells). The pipeline will not be an asset in the public trust... it will be the private property of TransCan and Enbridge. Private Property. That is a huge difference.

    I work with one of these two firms deeply, and honestly I can tell you they are obsessed with not leaking anything transmitted through their pipes.... to the level of 6-9s accuracy. So I trust them. But the reasoning by the right to justify the "need" for the pipeline is completely bogus.... to the point of being full on fabrications. I don't see a risk presented by the pipeline other than the level of dishonesty being used to justify it.

  • the old switcharoo mesa, AZ
    March 3, 2014 9:43 p.m.

    Ok, it's no big deal.

    To me, you better have a darn good reason to put a pipeline across the entire US.

    Project cancelled.

  • CHS 85 Sandy, UT
    March 3, 2014 7:33 p.m.

    To my conservative friends - how much of this oil will end up in your gas tank? It will be sold to the highest bidder, so the answer as a Utahn rhymes with zero.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 3, 2014 6:15 p.m.


    I once heard of a proposal to use oil pipelines as common carriers. The idea was to insert capsules carrying cargo into the pipeline oil and let the oil move the cargo capsule to its destination. As a common carrier there might be more justification for the pipeline. As a Canadian business venture, I don't think we should.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    March 3, 2014 6:09 p.m.

    Ultra Bob,

    Amen to that. I have said the same thing many times. A bbl of oil is roughly $100. I suspect that, absent another global economic meltdown, that oil will be much much more expensive in the future, if we can get it at all.

    Save all of our oil and buy up all the "outside" oil we need today.

    There is a finite supply and it is roughly in balance with demand. Given the economic development of China and India, the demand will greatly outstrip supply in the near future.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 3, 2014 5:30 p.m.

    If I were King, I would cap every oil source on the American continents and buy the oil I needed from foreign countries, at the world price set by the foreign oil cartel. I would not deplete the oil in my own backyard. When the foreign countries run out of oil I could set the price and have plenty of oil to sell.

    Actually I think OPEC is a myth. I think the world oil price is set by Texas oil men that control world oil via the U.S. military.

    In any case the price that Americans pay for oil will be the price set by the people who own the oil. Depleting American oil won't change that.

    The main reason for opening up American oil fields is to establish ownership for future control of the oil. That, and the greed for wealth in the here and now.

    We don't need the Canadian oil, and we don't need to desecrate our land so that Canadian businessmen or whoever it is that owns the Canadian oil can be enriched.

    The Keystone Pipeline is a bridge to nowhere.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    March 3, 2014 4:06 p.m.

    To "silo" how is this any different than the use of emminent domain for a road, highway, airport, wind farm, or solar project?

    If there are alternate routs that require fewer acres to be purchased, then that would be best. However, this is essentially a road for transporting oil. While I feel for the land owners, the constitution is clear about the use of emminent domain.

    This is more than just oil, it is also a security project to make the transportation of oil more secure.

    If you look at the estimate of jobs created due to the cheaper oil that would be available, the number is boosted up into the tens of thousands.

  • David Folland SANDY, UT
    March 3, 2014 3:22 p.m.

    Bob Bennett's reasoned arguments emphasize why more than ever the need to put a tax on carbon and return revenues to American households. This can increase on a yearly basis an stimulate market forces to spur the transition to clean energy. Unless we confront our fossil fuel addiction and switch to clean energy, tar sands oil may find its way to market, as Mr. Bennett has written.

  • silo Sandy, UT
    March 3, 2014 2:27 p.m.


    To the conservatives who favor this. Do you believe in private property rights? If you do, then why do you support the Keystone? By laying the pipeline, US citizens are having their private property seized by a Canadian company through eminent domain. More that 100 Texas landowners have already had their land seized by this company, and 700+ more in Texas face the same fate. The only other option for them is to voluntarily waive damages against TransCanada. Multiply that by all the other states and there are literally thousands of private landowners being forced to bow to a foreign corporation.

    Regarding the 7000 jobs. There are no estimates that support your number Redshirt. The permanent number estimated by the CBO is less than 100, and none of those stats include the loss of existing jobs on competing pipelines and railways in the estimates.

  • Gerald Elias Salt Lake City, UT
    March 3, 2014 1:45 p.m.

    Senator Bennett,
    When I bumped into you a Smiths in the Avenues a couple months ago, you were deciding what kind of milk you would purchase. If THAT made a difference to you, certainly the way the world produces energy must come in a close second. "What difference does it make?" is perhaps the most frightening question mankind can ask.
    Regarding leaks, you can go on and on about which is worse: trucks, trains, ships or pipelines. The fact is, we've had disasters from all of them, and the more we transport dirty fuel, the more disasters we'll have. Without even addressing the subject of climate change, this pipeline is a disaster waiting to happen.
    Sen. Bennett, it DOES matter.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    March 3, 2014 1:42 p.m.

    From L White...

    "Obama's followers who want us to forget that thousand of Americans died so that we can pay $1,000,000,000 every day to the Middle East and another $2,000,000,000 per day for the soldiers that protect those oil fields."

    All I can say is wow. If we could lower gas prices another 50 cents a gallon, how many lives is that worth? We are all paying a billion dollars a day to secure cheap gas.... and "entitlements" are our problem. As someone who works in the industry.... I think I am gong to be ill.

    No... I don't want Obama's followers to ever forget we are paying 365 Billion to secure cheap gas - which has absolutely nothing to do with Keystone XL. It wasn't Obama who turned soldiers into pawns for oil interest...

    Your comments truly are ........ not sure what the word for them is.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    March 3, 2014 1:38 p.m.

    To the libs who oppose this. Do you belive in lower our CO2 emissions? If you do, then why do you oppose the Keystone? By piping the oil, we reduce the need to truck or use trains to move the oil around. Don't you want to reduce the US carbon footprint?

    Plus, this will create 7000 permanent jobs. Didn't Obama say that job creation was a top priority?

    Well, what do you want to do? Do we cut CO2 emissions piping the oil around? Do we add jobs or not?

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    March 3, 2014 1:26 p.m.

    The biggest benefit of Keystone isn't jobs, and it won't be product price. It's the geopolitical stability of the supply. The world is an uncertain place full of people that Americans buy oil from who really don't like them. Even if the US doesn't use all the oil in the line for years the fact is, there is a huge insurance benefit in having the infrastructure in place, ready to deliver on a moment's notice. There's quite a bit of speculation today about what unrest in the Ukraine is going to do to gas and oil prices, and that's in a place that doesn't even have the resources to sell. We need to think carefully about all the foreign interests investing in the Athabasca oil projects; they're seeing long term value we'd be foolish to ignore.

  • L White Springville, UT
    March 3, 2014 1:18 p.m.

    Oh my goodness, but aren't there a lot of Obama's followers who want us to forget that thousand of Americans died so that we can pay $1,000,000,000 every day to the Middle East and another $2,000,000,000 per day for the soldiers that protect those oil fields. There are those who tell us that they don't understand. Really? What's not to understand? Obama wants to shut off our oil. He's told us that $5.00 a gallon is not unreasonable. To whom? To the worker who can't afford to go to work? To the mother who can't afford to go to the grocery store?

    But what difference does it make? Soldiers are just pawns. Fathers and mothers are just pawns. Obama will do everything he can to keep oil out if our Country. Yes, what difference does it make?

  • joeandrade Salt Lake City, UT
    March 3, 2014 1:17 p.m.

    It is about 'symbolism' - it is about principles - it is about our collective future - it is about stewardship of the planet.

    Our addiction to fossil fuels has already resulted in major man-made changes to this planet, resulting in an alteration of the climate itself. So much so than we now call the age we are in the Anthropocene - the first time in geologic time that the planet has been and continues to be changed by Mankind.

    Sen Bennett's 'what difference does 1% make' could easily apply to tobacco, alcohol, drugs, and other issues and behavior risky to both individuals and society.

    It makes a great deal of difference. It's time to stop the flow through the oil needle.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    March 3, 2014 11:26 a.m.

    I'm sorry Mike but I don't understand your position at all. If the point of the keystone pipeline was to get oil to American refineries maybe it would make sense, but it's not. The purpose of keystone is to get oil to ports for shipping abroad. As the senator said we may get a small portion of that oil along the way, but keystone has virtually nothing to do with American refineries.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    March 3, 2014 10:27 a.m.

    It's not just a liberal complaint though, the local officials and people where the pipeline is supposed to go are quite strongly opposed to it. Nebraska even voted to block part of it and that's certainly no liberal bastion.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 3, 2014 9:55 a.m.

    I believe the Keystone Pipeline to be a Pork Scam of the same nature as Solario, UTOPIA, UTA and millions of other unscrupulous schemes that businessmen use to rob the taxpayer.

  • Stalwart Sentinel San Jose, CA
    March 3, 2014 9:22 a.m.

    Using Senator Bennett's unsound logic, we should also sell nuclear weapons to Iran because, what difference does it make, N. Korea is going to sell them to Iran anyway. We ought to be the ones to profit first off all the terrible and damaging choices made by other countries. Further, we should sell arms to both sides of any civil war and hope they kill each other at high rates so we can sell them more arms. What difference does it make so long as we get paid.

    Or, to use an even more ironic talking point, all the folks who agree with Senator Bennett's "what difference does it make" excuse surely must also agree with SoS Clinton on Benghazi. What difference does it make whether it was an attack motivated by a movie, or 9/11, or lack of American security - it happened and that's all that matters. What difference does it make?

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    March 3, 2014 9:14 a.m.

    "What is wrong with a President who values American lives so little that he puts them in harm's way to protect the oil fields in distant lands"

    Mike. I happen to agree with you. However, it is pretty clear which president you are talking about. And it isn't Obama.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    March 3, 2014 9:03 a.m.

    There were fifteen major train wrecks in 2013 in the United States and there were two pipeline breaks that are listed on Wikipedia. Which is safer, shipping oil by rail or shipping oil by pipeline?

    How many troops do we have stationed in Canada or around Canada to protect its oil? How many troops, how many ships, how many aircraft do we have stationed in or around the Middle East to protect oil transport from that region? How many wars have we fought with Canada to keep their oil on the market? How many American soldiers have been killed protecting the oil in the Middle East?

    What is wrong with a President who values American lives so little that he puts them in harm's way to protect the oil fields in distant lands when Canada is willing to sell us oil at the same price without requiring one soldier to be at risk?

    What difference does it make? Ask the thousands of mothers and fathers what difference it made when they lost their son or daughter in a war that protected the flow of oil. That's what difference it makes.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    March 3, 2014 8:04 a.m.

    Just curious if any of the ardent conservatives who routinely claim the libs and or democrats that post on this thread just repeat liberal talking points are paying attention to these comments?

    BTW I agree. Not a game changer, but pipelines do leak with disastrous results that exceed those of a single truck load of oil, so be careful.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    March 3, 2014 7:59 a.m.

    "The Keystone decision ultimately became far more about symbolism than substance."

    What the senator missed is that besides rail, oil can already get from the oil fields of Canada to markets in Houston via existing pipelines own by the Keystone proponents - EnBrinds and Transcan. What the pipeline does do is add a short cut across the country - avoiding the shipment east before it heads south.

    I am personally neither for, nor against this project. Those people in the communities it would cross are the ones who need to decided it they want it crossing their land… not activist on either side in DC, and not two brothers based out of Texas. The decision between the jobs it would bring, and the risks it posses should be theirs. Outside forces should not compel them either way…. just my opinion.

  • Baron Scarpia Logan, UT
    March 3, 2014 6:12 a.m.

    USA Today had a similarly-reasoned article this past week with the same conclusion -- both sides are exaggerating the consequences of the pipeline.

    Two points worth considering, however, is that pipelines do leak -- we've seen our share in Utah that have polluted and disrupted life and rivers even in the Salt Lake Valley in recent years. A nuisance and clearly a factor in dropped property values, not to mention potential health risks. I believe Nebraska has every right to question the safety of the pipeline that would run through its prime agricultural heartland and aquifer.

    Two, with Iran's warming relations with America, that nation is anxious to get its oil to market, potentially lowing the price of world oil, and making the tar sands less economical. Those tar sands rely on high prices to make them worth the cost to mine and process. Can't help but wonder if the pipeline will become infeasible if Iran floods the market with Mideast oil.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    March 3, 2014 5:56 a.m.

    I completely agree with Mr Bennett here.

    The Tar Sands oil in Canada WILL BE BURNED regardless of whether or not the Keystone pipeline is built.

    I believe that the Democrats are burning too much political capital on this issue, and should move on.

    That said, we should play hardball with Canada and ensure that the US gets some solid, benefits concerning the oil.

    (its great being independent. can agree or disagree with either party)

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    March 3, 2014 5:32 a.m.


    You won't get very far talking sensibly about both sides of an argument.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    March 3, 2014 12:54 a.m.

    The senator is right - the XL pipeline won't make much of a difference. There is going to be a lot of oil moving by rail out of necessity regardless, because the modern oil market requires the flexibility of rail - rail goes to many more places that pipelines.

    I think the main argument against the pipeline is the possibility of polluting the great middle west underground water supply. A break in this pipeline could do a lot of damage.

    Mostly, though, the XL pipeline controversy is much ado about nothing.