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Elaine K.  
Floresville  
November 28, 2011 4:36pm
 
The following is from the Texas Farm Bureau blog:

U.S. energy policy is blind, deaf and really dumb

By Gene Hall

The Obama Administration’s decision to delay a decision on the Canada to Texas Keystone XL pipeline is another of those head scratching decisions. The president has deferred a verdict, ostensibly to study environmental impact and other factors. But it’s no accident that the final decision will be made after next year’s presidential elections.

The leftward edges of the environmental movement have won for now. There’s been caterwauling about the environmental impact, mostly because the XL will transect ground that lies above the Ogallala Aquifer. That underground ocean of fresh water is important all right, but the XL would not be the first fossil fuel pipeline to cross it. From what I’ve been able to determine, the risk is minimal.

Agriculture cares about this from both sides. The Ogallala is lifeblood to Texas agriculture and farmers from other states. It’s the primary source of irrigation water on the U.S. High Plains, much of which lies in Texas. So I don’t take any threat to it lightly. The flip side is the cost of energy and agricultural inputs made from fossil fuels. We’ve been through two periods of $5 per gallon diesel fuel in the last four years, fertilizer that farmers couldn’t afford to put on the fields and other high priced petroleum adventures. We need to do this, but we need to get it right.

Some in the farm and ranch community will object to the pipeline crossing private property. This will undoubtedly happen, but we’ve beefed up our eminent domain laws in Texas for cases just such as this. Property owners must be treated fairly.

What would really be dumb is to let an extremely vocal minority of green enthusiasts torpedo U.S. energy policy. If it has to do with oil, they don’t like it. I read a piece last week that called the delay a victory for “climate change policy.” Come again? Canada has opened negotiations with China and perhaps other parts of Asia to buy the oil. The Chinese--correct me if I’m wrong--plan to refine and burn that oil to fuel their growing economy. Our loss is their gain. Every drop of fossil fuel brought forth from the oil is destined to be burned. Why not here, where it would benefit the U.S. economy, create thousands of jobs and hopefully moderate fuel prices?

Considering that the XL oil will be burned somewhere on the planet, the net gain for positive impact on climate change is … let me see now…zero.

The whole of the American population is getting greener. Agriculture is doing its part with conservation and other advances. Biofuels are starting to transition from corn ethanol to other sources. Wind turbines generate electricity across wide swaths of Texas and the Southwest. Most people, including me, have picked up green habits. The nation is better for it.

There is, however, an element of the green movement that wants to curtail fossil fuel energy and many in Washington are listening to them: green good, oil bad. But, as usual, it’s not that simple.

The much discussed green energy economy may happen eventually, but we’re not yet ready for it. The technology is simply not there. In the meantime, why not promote the responsible use of petroleum while we develop green energy resources. The decision to delay Keystone XL is big mistake. This is not a “laser-like focus on jobs.” This is economic folly. Somewhere, Asian policy makers are shaking their head in disbelief at their good fortune.

Visit the Texas Farm Bureau website at www.txfb.org .
Follow Texas Farm Bureau on Twitter and Facebook for the latest updates on this topic and many more.
     
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