Seinfeld’s ‘Elaine’ becomes latest Keystone crusader

If you thought it had slipped onto the backburner, you’d be wrong.

The Keystone XL pipeline is back in the news, this time courtesy of prime time TV actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, better known as Jerry Seinfeld’s witty ex-girlfriend in the ’90s blockbuster sitcom.

Louis-Dreyfus is the latest Hollywood star to go public against TransCanada’s $7-billion project to transport Canadian oilsands crude from nothern Alberta to Texas refineries. Her appearance this week in a Youtube video by environmental group Tar Sands Action follows similar public appearances by Daryl Hannah, Robert Redford, Mark Ruffalo and other celebrity activists.

In the video, “Elaine” chides U.S. President Obama for cowing to “big oil” then delivers the now-familiar anti-Keystone line:

“As we speak, some very greedy guys are trying to make some very big bucks building a very, very dangerous pipeline that would carry an especially dirty form of oil called tarsands oil from Canada right through the heart of the United States all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. On the way it would put air, water, climate and millions of our fellow citizens at risk.”

The two-minute video was meant to drum up support for a large environmental protest happening Sunday at the White House, where thousands of protesters are gathering to oppose the project.

Last month MINING.com reported 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.

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.

A White House decision on the project was expected by year-end, although that is unlikely now, after an anonymous leak by the State Department lowered expectations about an approval or rejection before the end of December.

The pipeline has become a political football with the 2012  US presidential election campaign kicking into higher gear.

Political pundits are  saying without his core support Obama’s chances of becoming a one-term president would increase dramatically. Moreover, Obama could be timing the decision – consensus seems to be that the state department will approve Keystone – to make the maximum impact during his campaign. Joblessness is bound to stay the foremost election issue and the $7 billion pipeline is one of a handful shovel-ready projects in the US.

Another reason to keep kicking the Keystone hot potato down the road is that the importance to the US of Alberta’s oil is diminishing. MINING.com has argued that the lack of pipelines may not be the greatest threat to the oil sands:

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.

Click here for MINING.com’s dedicated Keystone XL page.

Photo of  Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Jerry Seinfeld at the 1997 Emmy Awards is by Alan Light, found on Wikimedia Commons.

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