What are the Republicans and The Oklahoman editorial board going to do now that local oil baron Harold Hamm has called the northern segment of the Keystone XL pipeline “not relevant”?
The GOP and the right-wing newspaper have lambasted President Barack Obama for delaying action to approve he construction of the pipeline, which would essentially move Canadian-produced oil to the Gulf coast. They made it a campaign issue in the recent election, and a recent Oklahoman editorial argued Obama “has blocked Keystone at every turn, in a nod to environmentalists.” The editorial’s headline even proclaimed, “Keystone project should be near top of GOP to-do list.”
But Hamm, pictured right, the founder and chief executive officer of the energy company Continental Resources in Oklahoma City, recently had this to say to Politico about the pipeline: “It’s not relevant at all in my opinion. And here we are making it relevant now? Forget it.” That was only a few days after The Oklahoman published its editorial.
Hamm has bonafide GOP credentials. He served as an energy advisor to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in his failed 2012 campaign. So why is he trying to interfere with the conservative mojo right after an election with major gains by Republicans on the national level?
Partially, it’s just plain logic. The pipeline just isn’t as necessary for American interests as the GOP has let on. But it’s mainly about business. There’s a world oil glut, and prices are dropping. Hamm said, “If we have an … oil oversupply looking at us, do we need more Canadian oil here? Probably not.”
While it’s true the construction of the pipeline would create jobs, as The Oklahoman has argued, those job would only be temporary, and the potential for environmental damage would remain high during and after the pipeline’s construction.
In essence, the pipeline is yet another GOP issue like Obamacare that is only used as a cudgel to criticize Obama. (New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote about this conservative tactic today.) If the pipeline was built, and the oil glut deepened further, it could hurt the economy in Oklahoma as the fracking boom here goes bust. Somehow, The Oklahoman finds this acceptable, right? Well, probably not. It just wants to bash Obama for any reason whatsoever, even if it becomes “not relevant.”
The billionaire Hamm did tell Politico that the pipeline should have been built six years ago, but wouldn’t that have tempered the fracking boom in Oklahoma and Texas? Hamm’s position on the pipleine, of course, comes from his own company’s perspective and interests. Continental has been a big player in the Bakken shale formation in North Dakota.
It will be interesting to note what impact Hamm’s statements will have on the GOP and its right-wing noise machine, which includes The Oklahoman editorial page. Will they persist with criticism of Obama over the issue and still support the “drill, baby, drill” philosophy, which has created an environmentally unsound fracking boom in several states and produced an oil glut? Have the Republicans, once again, lost one of their specious fear-mongering issues because common sense eventually prevailed under the Obama administration?