Fox News is using the crisis in Ukraine to push for the Keystone XL pipeline, an argument that an energy expert called “patently absurd.”
In response to Russia's occupation of Ukrainian territory in the Crimean peninsula, Fox News personalities have been pushing for the Keystone XL pipeline to be built on an accelerated timetable, claiming that it would “weaken” Russia. But their argument has no basis in reality, as the pipeline could not realistically be built in a timetable sufficient to respond to the imminent crisis, and the tar sands oil it would deliver would not dent the global market enough to impact Russia. Energy analyst Chris Nelder explained in an email to Media Matters:
Keystone XL proponents will seize on any shred of justification for the project, no matter how tenuous. The suggestion that a very long-term project like Keystone XL, which will take a year or more to construct on any timetable, and which will deliver refined products like gasoline and diesel to a global market -- not just markets around Russia -- would somehow address the immediate situation in Crimea, is patently absurd. Further, delivering 830,000 barrels per day once it reaches full capacity will not meaningfully undercut Russia specifically in a global market that consumes 92 million barrels per day.
Yet at least six Fox News hosts and contributors have used the crisis in Crimea to push a pro-tar sands agenda:
O'Reilly: Build Keystone Pipeline To Weaken Russia. Fox News host Bill O'Reilly said that “the Keystone pipeline must be approved. Why? Because Russia is blackmailing Europe over energy ... the more oil and natural gas the U.S.A. and Canada can produce and distribute, the weaker Russia becomes on the world stage. I fervently hope President Obama understands that.”
KT McFarland: Obama Should Tell Putin: “I Will Allow Keystone Pipeline To Go Ahead”: In an opinion piece for FoxNews.com, Fox News foreign policy contributor KT McFarland wrote a mock conversation on what she hopes Obama told Putin during their March 1 phone call:
I will allow the Keystone Pipeline to go ahead, again on an accelerated basis. That will not only give a boost to the American and Canadian economies, it will start driving down the price of oil.
McFarland made a similar argument on-air when she suggested “go[ing] after the economic weapon: Build the Keystone pipeline.”
Sean Hannity And Sarah Palin Agree: “America Needs Pipelines.” On the March 3 edition of Fox News' Hannity, host Sean Hannity and Fox contributor Sarah Palin argued that Putin's aggression is proof of the necessity that “America needs pipelines,” while suggesting that Keystone XL protestors in D.C. are simply worried about the impact of the pipeline on “an earth worm”:
Hannity doubled down on his pro-Keystone argument on March 4, asserting that “if we sign on to the Keystone pipeline tomorrow” and exploit other energy resources in the U.S., it would “literally change the equation tomorrow,” expounding later that this tactic would “be a big enough threat to stop Putin's territorial ambitions.” Fox News contributor Lanny Davis agreed, saying “I don't understand the logic to [oppose it], and I do agree that we should be concentrating on American energy to undermine the Russian power that they use over Europe.”
The Five Co-Host Greg Gutfeld: “Build The Keystone” and “Win The New Cold War The Way We Won The Last One: By Bankrupting Russia”: On the March 3 edition of Fox News' The Five, co-host Greg Gutfeld claimed Sarah Palin was right about Russia's threat and about “drill, baby, drill”:
GUTFLED: If they were right then, what else were they right about? Let's dredge up that awful phrase, drill, baby, drill. Build the keystone, start pumping out tons of natural gas and undercut the prices Russia charges for Europe, and we'll win the new Cold War the way we won the last one, by bankrupting Russia, without firing a shot.
Fox News has been searching far and wide for ways to blame the Ukraine crisis on President Obama, but this may have been expected -- in 2012, Fox News similarly used the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi to call for Obama to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.