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Late Night: Say Bye-Bye, Keystone XL

In case you hadn’t heard, which is probably true if you depend on the evening TV news for most of your information, the Keystone XL is all but dead, and there’s nothing that Mary Landrieu, Congressional and Senate Republicans, or the White House can do to save it.

The cause? As I’ve saying for the past three years now, it’s the cost. The tar sands project always had a very narrow window of profitability, and now it’s all but slammed shut. Tar sands goop is fairly expensive to extract even in the warm climes of Venezuela (around $75 a barrel), but that’s still less than the cost (between $85 and $110 a barrel) of blasting frozen hunks of it out of the permafrost and mixing it with natural gas just so it can flow in a pipeline to refineries capable of handling it. With West Texas Intermediate crude oil trading at less than $77 a barrel, there’s no way Keystone XL can turn a profit moving tar sands goop.

That’s why the Norwegian firm Statoil recently halted, likely for good, all of its Keystone XL involvements.

Meanwhile, China’s economic slowdown, coupled with a growth in its domestic solar and wind power installations, is causing reduced demand for both oil and coal. In addition, other developing nations are increasingly bypassing the fossil-fuels stage of development and going straight to solar and wind power, which is good news for those of us who’d like to see CO2 levels drop for a change.

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