Today – the Senate rejected a bill to extend the frequently touted Keystone XL Pipeline failing to receive the 60 votes necessary to end a Democratic filibuster. In total – 11 Democrats voted to extend the Pipeline, but President Obama is said to have lobbied vigorously to ensure Dems maintained enough “nay” votes to continue blocking the bill in the Senate.
Now the way that you hear some people talking about the Keystone XL Pipeline – you would think that it’s going to solve all of the world’s energy problems and create a nearly unlimited amount of jobs right here in America….oil prices would drop to $.99 a gallon and everyone would get a free toaster. Unfortunately – I’m sorry to tell you this…but I must forewarn you the Keystone Pipeline does none of those things.
The American Petroleum Institute claims:
Approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, now in its fourth year of review, could also create 20,000 construction jobs over the life of the project. Projects like this, along with additional investment in oil sands development in Canada and expansion of pipelines and refineries in the U.S. make it possible to realize an additional 500,000 U.S. jobs in 2035.
Source: American Petroleum Institute
And the tobacco industry will tell you that cigarettes don’t cause cancer. As NPR explains – politicians who parrot these rosy job estimates are receiving their data from none other than TransCanada – the corporation lobbying to build the pipeline:
House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, described Keystone XL as being “as close to a shovel-ready project as you’re ever going to see.”
Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman said it would create “more than 100,000 American jobs.”
And earlier Wednesday on the Senate floor, Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas said the project “promises 20,000 immediate jobs and 118,000 spin-off jobs.”
They all appear to be getting their numbers from the same source: TransCanada Corporation, the company behind the project.
But here’s what an independent analysis from Cornell found:
- 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.
- KXL will divert Tar Sands oil now supplying Midwest refineries, so it can be sold at higher prices to the Gulf Coast and export markets. As a result, consumers in the Midwest could be paying 10 to 20 cents more per gallon for gasoline and diesel fuel. These additional costs (estimated to total $2–4 billion) will suppress other spending and will therefore cost jobs.
- Pipeline spills incur costs and therefore kill jobs. Clean-up operations and permanent pipeline spill damage will divert public and private funds away from productive economic activity. In 2010 US pipeline spills and explosions killed 22 people, released over 170,000 barrels of petroleum into the environment, and caused $1 billion dollars worth of damage in the United States.
- Based on data provided by TransCanada to the State Department, only between 506 and 1,387 workers would be hired locally.17 A state-by-state breakdown indicates that KXL will create between 93 and 257 jobs for residents in Montana; 121-333 jobs in South Dakota; 90-248 jobs in Nebraska; 6-18 jobs in Kansas; 41-113 jobs in Oklahoma; and 156-470 jobs in Texas 18.
But – a portion of the Keystone Pipeline – from Houston, TX to Cushing, OK is moving forward:
With President Barack Obama facing fire from Republicans over the rising cost of gasoline, the White House moved quickly Monday to trumpet a Canadian company’s decision to build a section of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline from Cushing, Okla., to Houston after Obama blocked a longer path last month.
Press Secretary Jay Carney hailed TransCanada’s announcement and used it to counter Republican criticism that the administration has stifled oil and gas production. He said that the Oklahoma to Texas section of the pipeline would “help address the bottleneck of oil in Cushing that has resulted in large part from increased domestic oil production, currently at an eight-year high.”
And while there is great consternation from the Republican party regarding the development of the Keystone XL pipeline – it is very important to note – a pipeline from Cushing, OK to Canada ALREADY EXISTS…it’s called the Keystone pipeline. But sometimes the facts don’t always translate and then it becomes a battle of “messaging”. If the average person hears enough positive things about a particular piece of legislation…they’ll be much more likely to support it even if the legislation claimed to do things that are exaggerated in nature. Republicans continue to sell this notion that the only way to resolve energy independence issues and create jobs is through the Keystone XL pipeline…not through the Keystone pipeline that already exists – get it? And just as the following chart demonstrates – there are a LOT Of ways to move oil from Canada down to Houston:
Source: United States Government
But the battle rages on because of the politics of this issue. According to PEW - just from a political perspective – 66% of Americans think that the Keystone XL pipeline should be approved compared to 23%. For Republicans – this is a perfect wedge issue; it relates to energy dependency, jobs, and benefits the oil industry which funds the GOP by significant margins.
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