On Monday, Mexican president Felipe Calderon continued Mexico‘s tradition of blaming America for its self-induced problems, and continued his personal habit of blaming America’s gun laws for the fact that his policies have failed to dismantle Mexico’s drug cartels and, regrettably, that his failure has contributed to a severe increase in murders in Mexico.
At a White House news conference held in conjunction with his meeting with President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada, Calderon essentially repeated the claim he made during a speech to Congress in 2010, that Mexico’s murder rate increased when the U.S. “assault weapon” ban expired.
Through a translator, Calderon said that “The expiring of the assault weapons ban in the year 2004 coincided almost exactly with the beginning of the harshest — the harshest — period of violence we’ve ever seen.”
“Almost exactly?” As the ban’s leading supporter, then-president Bill Clinton, might have said, “it depends on how you define ‘almost.'”
The ban, which prohibited putting attachments such as adjustable-length stocks and flash suppressors on various semi-automatic firearms, expired in September 2004. Mexico’s sharp increase in murders began after Calderon launched his war against the drug cartels, within days of taking office in December 2006.
Reliable Mexican crime statistics are hard to come by, but cartel-related killings appear to account for the majority of murders in Mexico, and since Calderon put on Mexico’s presidential sash, cartel-related killings have sharply increased. A chart prepared by the Center of Research for Development (CIDAC) think tank shows that Mexico’s murder rate was gradually decreasing before Calderon took office, then began to rise after his war on the cartels began. Cartel-related killings rose from 2,800 in 2007, to 6,800 in 2008, 9,600 in 2009, and 15,000 in 2010.
This is not to blame Calderon for trying to destroy the cartels. We wish him well in that epic struggle. But if Calderon overestimated his ability to triumph over the corruption that has been entrenched in Mexico for more than a century, he will find no solution in decrying the expiration of the 1994-2004 ban. Nor will Miami Herald columnist Andres Oppenheimer be able to justify his opinion that NRA is a “cartel” that bears a “huge tacit responsibility in the bloodshed that is taking place in Mexico” because we oppose the ban’s reinstatement. Since the ban expired, the U.S. murder rate has dropped to about an all-time low, while Mexico’s rate has risen to about an all-time high. Numbers like those tell the story in any language, clearly enough for any politician or two-cent opinion vendor to understand.
Obama will be in Cushing, Okla., the start point of the pipeline’s southern half on Thursday
Citing a senior administration source, CNN reported on Tuesday that Obama wants to slash several months off a permit approval process that can ordinarily stretch on for as long as a year.
The administration wants to speed things up to deal with a glut of oil in Cushing, Oklahoma, where crude from the Midwest runs into a logjam on its way to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico.
Obama will make the announcement Thursday at a storage yard in Cushing, the starting point of the pipeline’s southern half.
Pipes that will be used to build Keystone XL to the Gulf Coast are being housed at the facility.
Gas prices rising
The announcement comes as prices at the pump continue to soar. Republicans are blaming Obama’s energy policies for rising gas prices and continue to attack him for rejecting Keystone XL in January.
The U.S. average price for a gallon of gasoline rose for the 11th straight day on Tuesday to $3.85 US, and soared to $4 a gallon in some states. That would amount to a little over a dollar a litre in Canada.
Millions of barrels of unrefined crude are sitting in storage facilities in North Dakota, in particular, but there’s a lack of pipeline capacity to carry it to the Gulf Coast and a limited number of rail cars that can transport the oil south. The state is currently in the throes of a major oil boom thanks to the discovery of the so-called Bakken Shale.
Obama’s recent praise of Calgary-based TransCanada’s decision to proceed with the construction of the southern segment of the pipeline signalled a shift in attitude from the White House after it rejected the pipeline outright in January.
The entire length of the proposed, $7.6 billion pipeline would stretch from Alberta’s oilsands through six U.S. states to the Gulf Coast.
No decision from State Dept.
The U.S. State Department has yet to make a decision on the pipeline, saying it needs more time to conduct a thorough environmental review of a new route around an environmentally sensitive aquifer in Nebraska. State department officials are assessing the project because it crosses an international border.
In November, under mounting pressure from environmentalists, the State Department deferred making a decision on Keystone until after this year’s presidential election, citing concerns about the risks posed to the aquifer.
Pipeline proponents cried foul, accusing Obama of making a cynical political move aimed at pacifying the environmentalists of his base and improving his chances of re-election.
Republicans then held the administration’s feet to the fire, successfully inserting pipeline provisions into payroll tax cut legislation in late December.
Within a month, facing a mid-February deadline imposed by that measure, Obama nixed TransCanada’s existing permit outright, saying there wasn’t enough time to thoroughly review a new route before giving it the green light.
But Obama also assured Prime Minister Stephen Harper that the decision did not reflect on the pipeline’s merits, but was merely necessitated by Republican pressure tactics. He welcomed TransCanada to propose another route.
- Obama said ready to push partial Keystone XL approval (cbc.ca)
- Politics sank Keystone XL, Exxon says (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Obama to fast track southern portion of Keystone XL Pipeline (whitehouse.blogs.cnn.com)
- As Obama supports part of Keystone XL, TransCanada stops to remove a pig from a pipe (macleans.ca)
- Obama Heading To Oklahoma To Fast-Track Southern Leg Of Keystone XL (thinkprogress.org)
- President Barack Obama’s four-state energy tour stops in Oklahoma on Wednesday (newsok.com)
Ronald Bailey | January 10, 2012
In a no-holds-barred open letter, Canadian Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver tells environmental radicals to take a hike, preferably off a high cliff.
Virtually all our energy exports go to the US. As a country, we must seek new markets for our products and services and the booming Asia-Pacific economies have shown great interest in our oil, gas, metals and minerals. For our government, the choice is clear: we need to diversify our markets in order to create jobs and economic growth for Canadians across this country. We must expand our trade with the fast growing Asian economies. We know that increasing trade will help ensure the financial security of Canadians and their families.
Unfortunately, there are environmental and other radical groups that would seek to block this opportunity to diversify our trade. Their goal is to stop any major project no matter what the cost to Canadian families in lost jobs and economic growth. No forestry. No mining. No oil. No gas. No more hydro-electric dams.
These groups threaten to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda. They seek to exploit any loophole they can find, stacking public hearings with bodies to ensure that delays kill good projects. They use funding from foreign special interest groups to undermine Canada’s national economic interest. They attract jet-setting celebrities with some of the largest personal carbon footprints in the world to lecture Canadians not to develop our natural resources. Finally, if all other avenues have failed, they will take a quintessential American approach: sue everyone and anyone to delay the project even further. They do this because they know it can work. It works because it helps them to achieve their ultimate objective: delay a project to the point it becomes economically unviable.
That bit about the “quintessential American approach” hurts only because it’s true.
So what did President Obama do in the face of environmentalist agitation? He caved. Our bravely decisive president tried to put off deciding on the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline which would link U.S. refineries to the Canadian oilsands production until after the 2012 presidential election. But as part of the deal to extend the payroll tax cut for two months, the Republicans in Congress set a deadline for President Obama to decide by February 21 whether or not the pipeline is in the U.S. national interest. So which Democratic interest group will the president choose to alienate? The unions or the environmental lobby?
- ‘Radical’ groups working against oilsands (cbc.ca)
- Joe Oliver’s open letter: The regulatory system is broken (business.financialpost.com)
- An open letter from Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver (theglobeandmail.com)
- Gateway pipeline: Minister slams ‘jet-setting celebrities’ and ‘radical’ environmentalists (calgaryherald.com)
- Minister takes on ‘radical’ environmentalists over Northern Gateway pipeline (calgaryherald.com)
by Andrew Shen
With plans for the Keystone XL oil pipeline on the rocks, and China looking to diversify its energy supplier portfolio, this might be the perfect opportunity for Canada to get its foot in the door of the Chinese energy market.