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Keystone Pipeline gets panicked support from oil billionaire T. Boone Pickens

Keystone Pipeline
Keystone Pipeline
Pickens: “So, why is Obama so opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline? As my dad used to say, “Son, it’s kind of like murder. It’s tough to explain.”

“Pickensing”. Verb. pick·ens·ing :to issue an insincere, self-serving apology. Usage: “Dude, are you Pickensing me about being late for work?”

The word “Pickensing” does not yet exist. But maybe someday soon it will progress into common usage, on a day when we need to describe a type of apology so arrogant and presumptuous it may rival the one oil baron T. Boone Pickens recently made on behalf of Americans.

Pickens penned an editorial for the Calgary Herald last Friday entitled “T. Boone Pickens: Calgary, I’m so sorry about the Keystone pipeline”.

The former corporate raider, speaking for a nation that has overwhelmingly rejected his closely held Republican beliefs in consecutive elections, wrote a piece that is little more than a thinly veiled tout sheet for his current holdings, which are largely centered around the sagging oil and natural gas industries.

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“So, why is Obama so opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline? As my dad used to say, “Son, it’s kind of like murder. It’s tough to explain,” wrote Pickens.

Um…what?

Anyone who does not directly make their living from the crude industry can sense the panic seeping into Pickens’s would-be rallying cry. Why else would he try and revive the debate about the Keystone XL pipeline when the United States has so much crude it is actually running out of places to store it?

But then again, timing might not be Pickens’s strong suit. As late as 2008, he was predicting that oil prices could reach $300 a barrel.

As for the “tough to explain” part, even people who believe that Keystone makes good business sense acknowledge that there are sensible reasons to oppose it.

Pickens is a one-trick pony. He makes his money from oil, and so he is perpetually looking to defend threats to his holdings. Full stop.

“Delaying Keystone XL will have no impact on how much oil comes out of the ground in Canada, how much reaches the U.S., or how much we use. But it will certainly make moving oil around North America far more dirty and dangerous,” said former diplomat Stephen Kelly last year.

Pickens, meanwhile, has stuck to the narrative that U.S. energy independence (which, curiously, includes access to Canada’s oil sands) trumps all other concerns.

“The reason oil prices are not bouncing up and down with every piece of news out of Iraq, Iran and Israel is the U.S. and Canada are using the latest innovative technology to recover oil and natural gas — from sands and shale” he wrote Friday.

Pickens, of course, doesn’t mention the price Canadians would be paying for the luxury of ignoring all forms of energy save oil and gas. Hydraulic fracking has become a hot-button issue in the United States. Environmentalists say it contaminates water and causes air pollution. They point to wells contaminated with benzene and tap water that is ignitable. In December, New York governor Andrew Cuomo listened to them and banned the practice from gas-rich New York state, which contains part of the famed Marcellus Shale.

“I’ve never had anyone say to me, ‘I believe fracking is great,’ ” said Cuomo. “Not a single person in those communities. What I get is, ‘I have no alternative but fracking.’ ”

Every mention of Canada in Mr. Pickens’s book -on pages 132, 140-143, 144, 204 and 206- describes the country in relation to oil.

Pickens is a one-trick pony. He makes his money from oil, and so he is perpetually looking to defend threats to his holdings. Full stop.

But what about the famed “Pickens Plan” the idea the billionaire floated and promoted (to the tune of $58 million ) during the 2008 U.S. election? Pickens said he would build the world’s largest wind farm, in Texas. He abandoned wind energy in 2010, around the time natural gas prices started plummeting from the glut brought on by fracking. His foray into cleantech now looks like the most expensive personal green washing campaign ever launched.

So does Thomas Boone Pickens care about Canada? After all, he is issuing the apology to us, and takes the time to point out that he once lived here. In Calgary, of course.

“I was living in Canada in 1967 when the Great Canadian Oil Sands, now Suncor, launched the first project to produce synthetic crude from oil sands in Fort McMurray, Alberta, wrote Pickens in his autobiography “The First Billion Is the Hardest: Reflections on a Life of Comebacks and America’s Energy Future.”

“In 1967 I was thirty-nine years old. At the end of the day I’d occasionally stop by the Petroleum Club. Five or six of my fellow geologists would be there talking shop. I remember the night the Great Canadian Oil Sands operation was announced. We were all sitting around having a beer. It was a government project, and we all scoffed at the idea. There was just no way for it to make any money.”

This and every other mention of Canada in Mr. Pickens’s book -on pages 132, 140-143, 144, 204 and 206- describes the country in relation to oil. So while Canadians balance their daily lives and their children’s lives against concerns about the environment, politics, religion, The Maple Leafs, all evidence suggests he is here for one reason and one reason only.

T Boone Pickens’s journey from oil rig roughneck to oil baron is the definition of the American Dream. But that doesn’t mean that what’s profitable for his portfolio is what’s best for our country.

Below: the Academy Award nominated fracking documentary “Gasland”

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About The Author /

Cantech Letter founder and editor Nick Waddell has lived in five Canadian provinces and is proud of his country's often overlooked contributions to the world of science and technology. Waddell takes a regular shift on the Canadian media circuit, making appearances on CTV, CBC and BNN, and contributing to publications such as Canadian Business and Business Insider.

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