Let's assess the foreign-oil front first. After Canada, Saudi Arabia is America's second-largest oil supplier through its national oil company, Saudi Aramco, but Western oil companies benefit from lucrative joint ventures and service contracts. According to the BP (formerly known as British Petroleum) website: "Our Integrated Supply and Trading (IST) team purchase and supply a wide range of crude oil and refined products, destined for BP's vast refining and marketing networks, as well as to other international petroleum markets. The BP Representative Office in Riyadh helps to direct, coordinate and assist all BP activities in the Kingdom."
Jolly good, chaps! At least until Canada supplants BP's Saudi cash cow, right?
One of the most outspoken (if not wealthiest) anti-Keystone activists is billionaire Tom Steyer, a tireless purveyor of alarmist anti-pipeline billboards and advertisements. A spokesman for Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), whom Steyer has ripped over Lynch's support for Keystone, told Canada's Globe and Mail last year that it's hypocritical for Steyer to oppose the pipeline after making a fortune off BP stock. Awkward.
On the domestic front, if Keystone becomes a reality, rail cars that serve to transport oil will be rendered redundant. A Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight train that was hauling oil exploded in North Dakota in December. A similar train explosion in Quebec last summer killed dozens of people. Doesn't sound like a very environmentally friendly alternative to me. How many polar bears did those fireballs end up choking? Tough to measure that.
But you know what doesn't seem anywhere near as difficult to measure? The $34 billion that Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway spent to acquire Burlington Northern Santa Fe in 2009. The longer Keystone remains delayed, the more attractive the alternative of having Obama's favorite billionaire stepping in to provide the stopgap solution.
By all means, enviro-warriors, carry on. I just thought that perhaps you might want to meet your generals.