Robert Samuelson writes:
There are three things to remember about Keystone and U.S. energy policy.
First, we’re going to use lots of oil for a long time. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that American oil consumption will increase 4 percent between 2009 and 2035. The increase occurs despite highly optimistic assumptions about vehicle fuel efficiency and bio-fuels. But a larger population (390 million in 2035 versus 308 million in 2009) and more driving per vehicle offset savings.
The more oil we produce domestically and import from neighbors, the more we’re insulated from dramatic interruptions of global supplies. After the United States, Canada is the most dependable source of oil — or was until Obama’s decision.
Second, barring major technological breakthroughs, emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, will rise for similar reasons. The EIA projects that America’s CO2 emissions will increase by 16 percent from 2009 to 2035. (The EIA is updating its projections, but the main trends aren’t likely to change dramatically.) Stopping Canadian tar-sands development, were that possible, wouldn’t affect these emissions.
Finally, even if — as Keystone critics argue — some Canadian oil were refined in the United States and then exported, this would be a good thing. The exports would probably go mostly to Latin America. They would keep well-paid industrial jobs (yes, refining) in the United States and reduce our trade deficit in oil, which exceeded $300 billion in 2011.