The TransCanada Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline fight has been very political. How many jobs will it create? Will this hurt the environment? Will this dirty tar sand oil stay in the United States and help to make us energy independent? Is anyone buying influence to create this pipeline to carry Canadian oil across six states to the Gulf Coast? Are the Koch Brothers and their group, Americans for Prosperity, trying to influence the outcome by donating to the Energy and Commerce Committee members?
While the economy is recovering, creating jobs is crucial, so those who support this pipeline have been touting it as a job creator, although they sure seem confused. The NH-01 Congressman wrote that the KXL project, “is expected to immediately create 20,000 American jobs, and an additional 179,000 jobs through at least 2035 once the pipeline is fully operational in 2013.” Speaker John Boehner, who just happens to have major investments in most of the oil companies that will profit from the KXL and has received money from them, says 100,000 jobs. The American Petroleum Institute claims “more than half a million new jobs” by 2035. The head of the US Chamber of Commerce, Thomas Donohue, says up to 250,000 jobs over the life of the project.
There is always a party pooper, and in this case, it is the Cornell University Global Labor Institute. In September 2011, it reported, "A calculation of the direct jobs that might be created by KXL can begin with an examination of the jobs on-site to build and inspect the pipeline. The project will create no more than 2,500-4,650 temporary direct construction jobs for two years, according to TransCanada's own data supplied to the State Department."
Will it hurt the environment, our farms and water? We can look to the past to make an intelligent prediction. The Keystone 1 project, which runs from Canada to Oklahoma, has leaked 12 times in just one year. Their spokesperson told the press that there was concern that since there were two leaks in just a month, opposing forces might use that to stop the new pipeline. In other words, their miserable record might be held against them.
But the United States does need energy, and this will help make us energy independent, right? If we were going to keep the oil here, supporters could claim some benefit. However, the oil is not promised to us. Congressman Edward Markey, in his essay, “Drill Here, Sell There, Pay More” (The Hill, 2/9/12), wrote, “Last December, I asked the president of TransCanada point-blank if he would agree to keep fuels made from oil shipped through the Keystone XL pipeline in the United States. He replied, ‘No.’” But the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (which is very different from our local Chambers, which serve Main Street businesses) ignored that, and scolded President Obama in a press release: “Just as troubling, the President’s decision will make us more dependent on oil from foreign nations that don’t share our interests.”
The Los Angeles Times, in their article, “Koch Brothers Now at Heart of GOP Power” (2/6/11) reported that their group, Americans for Prosperity, “began circulating a pledge asking politicians to denounce a Democratic-led effort to compel oil refineries and utilities to clean up emissions of greenhouse gases through a so-called cap-and-trade system… Americans for Prosperity began working to defeat House Democrats who voted for the bill, showing the power of its new activist base.” They ran ugly and false attack ads, defeated the Democrats, and now have many allies in Congress. The article also said, “Wichita-based Koch Industries and its employees formed the largest single oil and gas donor to members of the panel, ahead of giants like Exxon Mobil, contributing $279,500 to 22 of the committee's 31 Republicans, and $32,000 to five Democrats.” Did I mention that the Koch Brothers have a facility right there at the beginning of the pipeline and that their website says they are among the “largest crude oil purchasers, shippers and exporters”?
So we are not getting jobs, we are risking our environment, and we don’t get to keep the oil to reduce oil imports from our enemies. Why would the United States accept this pipeline from Canada to our Gulf Coast refineries? If the American people don’t win on this “deal,” why are we considering it—just to help the oil companies get a better price on the world market than they could get in Canada or the United States? As the old line says, “Go figure.”