12:03 PM, Nov 6, 2015 • By ETHAN EPSTEIN
President Obama announced today to much fanfare (and to much angst on the right) that he is killing the proposed KeystoneXL pipeline, which would transport Canadian tar sands oil through the United States. But as much as he would like to claim the mantle of environmentalism (this is the man who promised to slow the rise of the oceans, after all) the president is giving himself a little too much credit here. For President Obama is not killing Keystone; the economics of oil are.
Tar sands oil is remarkably expensive to cultivate; according to State Department figures, energy companies require oil prices of somewhere between $65 and $75 a barrel to break even on tar sands mining. Oil is currently trading at less than $50 a barrel and there’s increasing speculation that the stuff will remain cheap for a long time to come. The plunge in oil prices is already affecting tar sands production: Earlier this year, Shell cancelled plans for a major investment in the tar sands. Nor are they the only ones calling off future development.
The plunge in oil prices and fall-off in investment means that Keystone simply no longer makes economic sense.
As Pete Howard of the Canadian Energy Research Institute told the MIT Technology Review early this year, of oil prices remain around $50 a barrel, “the necessity for Keystone XL may disappear . . . We’ve got rail [transportation] right now as a safety valve, and if we build up rail capacity to carry three-quarters of a million barrels, that pretty much takes up all the projects that are under construction right now.”
The president may as well take credit for the sun rising in the east this morning.
A quarter-century after Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait, we still haven’t learned the right lessons from that warAug 10, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 45 • By VANCE SERCHUK
Just after midnight on August 2, 1990, an invasion force of approximately 100,000 Iraqi troops crossed into Kuwait. As mechanized and armored Republican Guard divisions breached the border and sped southward across the desert, Iraqi Special Forces commandos launched airborne and amphibious assaults into Kuwait City. The Kuwaiti military, outnumbered and taken by surprise by the well-coordinated offensive, was swiftly routed.
4:14 PM, Jul 22, 2015 • By SHOSHANA WEISSMANN
A new report by the American Action Forum, a center-right policy institute, details adverse economic consequences of the Keystone XL pipeline's delay.
12:01 AM, Jul 18, 2015 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
Two big deals were signed this week, with one thing in common – can-kicking. The Eurozone countries, more precisely Germany, kicked the Greek debt can down the road for three years by lending the already over-indebted country another €86bn.
5:29 PM, Apr 20, 2015 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The original corn laws put tariffs on imported grain in an effort to help domestic producers. That was nearly two centuries ago, in England, and the experiment is taught as an example of bad economic policy. But people never learn and in this country, today, we have the renewable fuel mandates which have been a boon to corn farmers in Iowa (among other states) where presidential candidates are obliged to speak in favor of a policy that is a drag just about everywhere else in the country.
The Hawkeye state is first, don’t think about cutting in line. Big corn will crush you.1:05 PM, Mar 22, 2015 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Iowa took umbrage, last week, over something an operative for Scott Walker said. Or, to be precise, something she once tweeted. For her indiscretion, Liz Mair was forced to resign from Walker’s political action committee. Walker is not yet an officially declared candidate for president but that is just political coyness.
Fraudulent 2010 BP Gulf Oil Spill Claims6:10 PM, Feb 20, 2015 • By JERYL BIER
A former IRS tax examiner was indicted Friday along with three conspirators
Secessionism on the left.Feb 23, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 23 • By JOSEPH BOTTUM
Rivers have rights, they say down in Mora County, New Mexico—“inalienable and fundamental rights,” beyond the power of any government to touch. Aquifers, too. Wetlands, streams, ecosystems, and even “natural communities,” whatever that undefined term means: All of them have rights to “exist and flourish.” The land itself has an “intrinsic right” to “exist without defilement.”
12:01 AM, Feb 7, 2015 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
We should “stop thinking about the economy as being in a perpetual crisis” commented Charles Plosser, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, after the government announced on Friday that the private sector added 267,000 jobs in January, and that upward revisions to November and December data brought total job creation in 2014 to over three million.
The politics of oil Feb 16, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 22 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
"We can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices.” As recently as two years ago, that’s what the president was saying—with his usual self-assurance—about the nation’s dependence on foreign oil and on oil in general. And he wasn’t the only one. The line was widely echoed on the political left, where the instinctive feeling is that petroleum is poison. It helped that the opposition, led by archvillainess Sarah Palin, was meanwhile chanting, “Drill, baby, drill.”
What more proof was needed?
Time to counter the Saudis with a tariff? Feb 16, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 22 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
We are in a war with Saudi Arabia—and losing. The Saudis aim to regain substantial control of our oil supply by driving from the industry many of our shale-oil-producing frackers who have reduced the power conveyed to the kingdom’s rulers by the underground ocean of oil on which their palaces sit. And we seem prepared to let them do just that, by failing to do what is necessary to prevent a reversal of the major strides we have made to get out from under the boot of an avaricious oil cartel.
2:22 PM, Feb 3, 2015 • By IRFAN AL-ALAWI AND STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
Following the death of King Abdullah Bin Abd Al-Aziz, at 90 or 91, on the night of January 22-23, Saudi Arabia is very likely to continue its policies of opposition to Iran and the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, and its participation in the coalition effort against the Islamic State. These alignments are not an expression of mere rivalry between Sunni Saudis and Shia Iranians, or between Saudi fundamentalists and ISIS radicals.
2:33 PM, Dec 30, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The economic news has been getting better, especially regarding the price of oil. Which the consumer sees as what he forks over at the pump. And that, as we all know, is one price the trend of which we follow every day.
2:29 PM, Dec 29, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
We’re hearing from all over just how good things are – and are becoming ever more so – and how on top of the game the president is. There is that 5 percent GDP growth last quarter and an unemployment rate that has dropped below 6 percent (the bar has, obviously, been lowered) and the stock market is burning it up.