Fact Checking Bloomberg’s Attempt to Be Funny

–       A Bloomberg editor published its top “top ten funniest moments” in the Keystone XL delay, which aren’t very humorous and contain a number of errors.

–       OSFC is posting its top ten corrections to Bloomberg’s misinformation.

–       For the overwhelming number of Americans who want the jobs, economic growth and energy security of the Keystone XL pipeline, the delay is far from funny.  

Last Friday, supporters of the Keystone XL pipeline marked the six year anniversary of President Obama’s delay in approving the project, highlighting the lost job opportunities and the lost energy security and economic opportunities for communities along the path.

Meanwhile, one strident opponent of the project, an editor for Bloomberg, penned a piece in which he rounded up his “top ten funniest moments” in the Keystone XL delay.  Aside from the fact that there’s very little humor in it, the piece littered with the same laundry list of errors that anti-Keystone XL activists continually rehash.  We were surprised at the Bloomberg list. We do think many of the statements are funny.

But if opponents keep repeating misinformation, OSFC will keep providing the facts.  Here’s OSFC’s top ten corrections to Bloomberg’s attempt to be funny:

Claim #1: “The Keystone XL was intended to be the final stent of a multi-part network through the American heartland, connecting Alberta crude to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico.  But this master plan for energy development failed to foresee the domestic shale oil and gas boom.”

FACT:  It’s not clear exactly how Bloomberg thinks the U.S. shale boom means that Keystone XL is no longer needed, but here are a few facts: Most of the oil from the Bakken is light sweet crude, whereas oil sands is heavy.  As IHS CERA has explained on numerous occasions, our Gulf Coast refineries have “a strong appetite for heavy crude—requiring 2.4 million barrels per day (mbd)” so they will need to refine heavy crudes, which could come from Venezuela, Mexico or Canada.  But if Gulf Coast refineries are not producing the larger volumes of crude from Canada that would be transported by Keystone XL, IHS CERA finds, “the most likely alternative USGC heavy oil supply is Venezuelan crude which has the same GHG emissions range as oil sands.”  Therefore, since Canadian crude would replace heavy crudes we generally get from unstable nations, greenhouse gas emissions will see little to no change.

Claim #2: “In June 2011, after former NASA climate scientist James Hansen condemned the pipeline, contending that carbon pollution from the tar sands would be “game over” for human civilization.”

FACT: James Hansen said in testimony before Congress last year that, “my comment continues to be misinterpreted.” In other words, not even James Hansen himself, who Keystone XL opponents continually quote, believes that Keystone XL alone will significantly impact greenhouse gas emissions or indeed be “game over” for the planet.  And of course, the United States State Department, along with an overwhelming consensus of energy and climate experts, agrees that Keystone XL passes President Obama’s climate test.

Claim #3: “In the areas where the Keystone XL would actually be built, a coalition of ranchers and environmentalists rose up in protest to protect the aquifers of the Great Plains.”

FACT: Actually the “people in the path” overwhelmingly support Keystone XL.  As a Pew poll from late last year found, in the states the pipeline would traverse – Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas – 69 percent support Keystone XL while 28 percent are opposed.

Claim #4: “Lifelong Republicans in Texas and Nebraska have been the most vocal and effective opponents of the pipeline, while on the Democratic side, former aides to Hillary Clinton have helped TransCanada lobby the government.”

FACT: All you have to do is look at the campaigns across the county to see that Democrats and Republicans overwhelmingly support Keystone XL and are pushing for its approval as they work to win votes.  From Kentucky to Montana, from North Carolina to Louisiana, from Arkansas to Alaska candidates from both sides are saying Keystone XL is something they can agree on.  And every governor and congressman for the states along the route supports the project too.

Claim #5: “When the State Department publishes its final, revised assessment of the project in 2014, it finds that the Keystone XL will create 1,950 construction jobs for two years, and 35 permanent ones.”

FACT: Actually, the United States State Department found that that Keystone XL would create 42,000 jobs during construction and put 2 billion in American workers’ pockets. In fact, the most troubling part of the Bloomberg piece is its complete disregard for construction jobs. As Sean McGarvey, President of the Building and Construction Trades Department at AFL-CIO said about that, “The interstate highway system was a temporary job; Mount Rushmore was a temporary job. If [opponents] knew anything about the construction industry they’d understand that we work ourselves out of jobs and we go from job to job to job.”

Claim #6: “Eleanor Fairchild is arrested on her own property and tossed in county jail. The charge: criminal trespassing. The 78-year-old granny was standing in the way of a TransCanada earthmover.”

FACT: While Keystone XL opponents may be very vocal, they are definitely in the minority.  As a recent Washington Post poll determined, Keystone XL enjoys “almost universal” support. This comes after poll after poll has shown overwhelming support across the political spectrum for approving Keystone XL.

Claim #7: “Climate activist and Keystone opponent Tom Steyer hires an ex-Navy SEAL to conduct a mock terrorist attack on the Keystone I pipeline. The SEAL, Dave Cooper, determines he could easily blow a massive hole in the thing, causing a 1.2 million-gallon spill. We saw this kind of sabotage in Iraq, Cooper says. “The analogy breaks down because we were involved in a full-scale war [in Iraq],” he says.”

FACT: National security is the number one priority and any possible threat should be identified and evaluated.  But it’s also important to look at this report in the proper context. As the National Journal pointed out when the report came out, strikes on energy infrastructure in the United States have declined significantly.  In countries where these types of attacks are on the rise, the pipelines are often above ground and often involve people wanting to steal the oil inside.  That kind of activity is not a credible threat in the United States.  Further, the pipeline will be underground, operating under the utmost security regulations and risk assessment requirements.

Further, what is the more important national security priority?  As former Obama national security advisor General Jim Jones said, if we “want to make Mr. Putin’s day and strengthen his hand, we should reject the Keystone.”  Secretary of State George P. Shultz said about the oil that would come from Keystone XL: “That’s oil that doesn’t go through the straits of Hormuz.”  When former Obama national security advisor Thomas E. Donilon was asked if he would advise approval of Keystone XL on national security grounds, he answered:  “I probably would.”

Claim #8: “Nebraska’s supreme court rules Keystone XL law unconstitutional.

OK, not about the Keystone XL, but a law covering who issues the permits for it to happen.”

FACT: Not true.  A local district court ruled that the law allowing the governor to approve the route rather than the Nebraska Public Service Commission was unconstitutional.  It would be news to the Supreme Court that they ruled on this case, especially given that oral argument was just on September 5. Regardless, even the Washington Post said that President Obama’s latest delay – purportedly due to the Nebraska court decision – was “absurd.”  As the Post put it,

“The administration’s latest decision is not responsible; it is embarrassing. The United States continues to insult its Canadian allies by holding up what should have been a routine permitting decision amid a funhouse-mirror environmental debate that got way out of hand. The president should end this national psychodrama now, bow to reason, approve the pipeline and go do something more productive for the climate.”

Further, forty- four groups ranging from North America’s Building Trades Unions to the National Association of Manufacturers explained in a letter earlier this year that the president’s latest excuse is completely unjustified.  As they said,

“There is no reason for the president to delay issuing the cross-border permit due to a state appellate court proceeding. Keystone XL enjoys the support of the Nebraska governor and policymakers. Nebraska conducted a thorough route assessment. Furthermore, the State Department has found in all five environmental reviews that the project would not significantly impact the environment, including the various route options through Nebraska. The issue of our national interest will not be affected or changed by the outcome of the Nebraska decision.”

Claim #9: “Why 91 pumpkins? It’s one for each of the number of leaks the pipeline could spring, says Bold Nebraska’s Jane Kleeb, citing independent research.”

FACT: The State Department said that Keystone XL would “have a degree of safety over any other” pipeline.  That’s because it will incorporate 59 extra safety measures than are required by the Maximum Operating Pressure rules administered by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).

Claim #10: “Obama has punted on a final decision until after a legal battle in Nebraska plays out—and, let’s not kid ourselves, until after the midterm elections. Given the political fallout from either a green light or final ‘no,’ Obama may have decided that delaying the project is the best he can ever hope to do.”

FACT: On this point we’ll agree that it all comes down to politics.  It’s no wonder that a Bloomberg poll from late last year found that over 60 percent of Americans believe President Obama’s delay of Keystone XL is due to politics rather than “legitimate concerns.”

But for the overwhelming number of Americans who want the jobs, economic growth and energy security of the Keystone XL pipeline, the delay is far from funny.

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