Thursday, February 6, 2014

Keystone XL Hangs by a thread of lies

The State Department recently issued another "final" report ("Report") on Keystone XL. The report supports construction of the pipeline, but State Department support was a foregone conclusion, because State has based its support on politics, not science. A small number of people will profit from the construction. Most of the oil and byproducts will be burned in other countries.

State bases its analysis of environmental impact on one simple conclusion: The tar sands oil will be extracted and burned whether or not the Keystone Pipeline is constructed. This conclusion is simply not true. We can stop what has been started by calling out the stupidity of the project and convincing the people of Canada and the U.S of its dangers. This argument is equivalent to saying that there will always be wars, so why shouldn't we start more of them.

The airwaves have been flooded by slick ads paid for by the American Petroleum Institute (API). API is the lobbyist for the oil industry. These ads announce that Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Warren Buffet all support the pipeline. These people have 2 things in common: (1) They are wealthy and stand to profit from continued reliance on fossil fuels; and (2) they are not experts in tar sands oil.

The API ads call the Pipeline a jobs bill. The Report says it will create 42,100 jobs. These jobs will last only one year, however. Communities in the region, many of them poor, will not receive any lasting benefit from these short-term jobs. Instead, the pipeline will contribute to the perpetuation of a rootless work force that has no stake in the community. Crime rates will rise precipitately as young men flood into small towns. In one town in North Dakota, the number of arrests is five times as high as it was in 2005.

The kind of employment that helps build communities and creates a steady benefit is long-term employment. After the pipeline is finished, according to the Report, such jobs will be created in the 5-state region through which the pipeline will run. Fifty of them. Three billion dollars invested in the pipeline will result in just 50 permanent jobs. By way of contrast, each $10 million (not billion) invested in public transit creates 314 new jobs and a $30 million gain in private business sales. As a jobs project, Keystone is an enormous waste of time and resources that should be going toward protecting the poor and disadvantaged from the consequences of climate change.

Capitalist groupies will argue that the free market, not the needs of the people, should determine how money is spent and on what. We are moving into an era of scarce resources. Money should be spent to improve our roads, bridges, and public utilities, not to provide more oil to people who are currently wasting what they have. What is more, profits from the oil will go back to the same wastrels and environmental hogs that brought us the Keystone Pipeline in the first place.

We need to stop the chain of stupidity that is making climate change worse by the moment. Stopping the Keystone Pipeline is a good place to start.

More information on Keystone and oil tar profiteering is available here, and here, and here.

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