Keystone XL: Green donors have Obama over a barrel
The UK's Telegraph reports two hundred wealthy Democrats were paying $5,000 a head this week to have lunch with Barack Obama – up to $7,500 if they also wanted their pictures taken with him – at San Francisco's posh W Hotel. Outside it was very different – some of the party's biggest donors were protesting.
There is increasing bitterness on the left about Obama's perceived closeness to industry and what they see as his failure to honour environmental promises. Like the San Francisco protesters many former campaign donors are threatening to withdraw financial support if he fails to block the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
The US state department's anonymous leak to the media last Tuesday lowering expectations about a decision on Keystone this year should not come as a surprise to anyone following Obama's poll numbers.
The opposition to the Keystone project – now in its governmental review phase after public hearings concluded 14 October – has become so rancorous that if Obama should approve the pipeline now he would be starting his re-election campaign with little left of his traditional support base.
Even if both TransCanada's (NYSE:TRP) Keystone XL and Enbridge’s (TSE:ENB) Northern Gateway pipelines are built bitumen is expensive to extract, upgrade and refine and cannot compete with the many new shale oil plays – particularly in the Bakken oil basin – which have pushed US production to its highest level in a decade and could see it become the planet's number one producer of crude.