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Obama’s Keystone XL Claim Earns Four Pinocchios from Washington Post

President Obama has delayed a decision over the Keystone XL pipeline for more than six years and just last week he vetoed a bill that would have approved the pipeline. Despite years of delay and study by the State Department, the president recently
failed to make a reasonable argument against Keystone. Either he is deliberately not telling the truth about the pipeline or he is ignorant of what the pipeline would do. Either reason is scary given that he just vetoed a bill on the pipeline.

energy 2014 AEA 600

Today, Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler called out President Obama for his misleading rhetoric, giving him four Pinocchios for his claim that Keystone XL oil “bypasses the U.S.” Kessler explains:

President Obama, seeking to explain his veto of a bill that would have leapfrogged the approval process for the Keystone XL pipeline, in an interview with a North Dakota station repeated some false claims that had previously earned him Pinocchios. Yet he managed to make his statement even more misleading than before, suggesting the pipeline would have no benefit for American producers at all… 

As we have noted before, when the president says “it bypasses the United States,” he leaves out a very important step. The crude oil would travel to the Gulf Coast, where it would be refined into products such as motor gasoline and diesel fuel (known as a distillate fuel in the trade). Current trends suggest that only about half of that refined product would be exported, and it could easily be lower.

A report released in February by IHS Energy, which consults for energy companies, concluded that “Canadian crude making its way to the USGC [Gulf Coast] will likely be refined there, and most of the refined products are likely to be consumed in the United States.” It added that “for Gulf refineries, heavy bitumen blends from the oil sands are an attractive substitute for declining offshore heavy crude supply from Latin America.” It concluded that 70 percent of the refined product would be consumed in the United States.

Environmentalists dismiss IHS as a biased source, but the analysis mirrors the conclusions of the State Department’s final environmental impact statement on the Keystone XL project. This is what is especially strange about Obama’s remarks, as he appears to be purposely ignoring the findings of the lead Cabinet agency on the issue. 

While these findings are significant, they shouldn’t come as a surprise. IER has shown that the President is perfectly willing to ignore reports from the State Department if they do not align with his misguided agenda. It is with this ignorance in mind that the Post saves its harshest criticisms for last:

The president’s latest remarks pushes this assertion into the Four Pinocchios column. If he disagrees with the State Department’s findings, he should begin to make the case why it is wrong, rather than assert the opposite, without any factual basis. Moreover, by telling North Dakota listeners that the pipeline has no benefit for Americans, he is again being misleading, given that producers in the region have signed contracts to transport some of their production through the pipeline. 

You can read the rest of the Washington Post’s fact check here.

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