The Obama administration, with the recommendation of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, has rejected the Keystone XL Pipeline, an allegedly $7 billion project to link the tar sands mining project in Alberta to the Texas refineries on the Gulf of Mexico.
Canada says that it will take the oil to British Columbia and ship it to China.
Let’s back this up a couple of steps. The whole thing might be a moot issue. There are major environmental challenges being raised in Canada for both routes by the First Nations through whose land these pipelines are proposed and on whose land the tar sands are leaking toxic waste into the ground water.
Next step backwards, this pipeline will not create any 20,000 jobs, not by a bloody longshot. The whole TransCanada energy company has functioned for years with less than 5,000 employees for a network of pipelines that spreads across all of Canada. The most accurate estimate is that building the pipeline will create around 4,000 TEMPORARY construction jobs, and less than a thousand jobs across eight states to maintain it. Now, you can make an argument that any job is better than no job, even if it is temporary, but it is necessary to weigh the benefits of those temp jobs against the environmental sensitivity of the area through North Dakota that the pipeline would go through.
The administration has offered to let Keystone reapply after they come up with a less dangerous route. They decided to get nasty and say – we’ll go to China instead.
So, that brings us to the most important thing about this pipeline…it is not American oil There is no such thing as American oil, and this is even less American than what is pulled out of the Gulf of Mexico or out of the ground in one of our states. This oil would go to the international oil market, as all the oil extracted north of the Rio Grande is.
We lease land, or sea bottom, to oil companies, almost all of which are international. They do or do not drill for oil on that land. Many hundreds of thousands of acres of leased land are not drilled but used as tax deductions. The government gets the lease payment and a royalty on the oil which is extracted. That’s it. Billions of dollars of oil are extracted from American soil and we don’t get a dime out of the oil itself, beyond very minor royalty fees which are wiped out by the tax deductions and subsidies that we give to these oil companies. And, we don’t get to keep the oil. It goes into the international market. It is sold wherever Exxon or BP feels like selling it.
Then, there’s John Boehner. He owns stock in a total of seven companies that would benefit directly from the pipeline deal. That’s called insider trading. Boehner’s “defense” is that he personally doesn’t pick what companies he is invested in, an investment firm does it for him. Yup, and he never, ever in his entire adult life has reviewed his portfolio and made recommendations to his stockbroker.
Killing the Keystone XL pipeline is neither a job killer nor a giving away of American oil. It’s not our oil and the Republicans have greatly inflated the job creation potential for this project. The entire concept of oil sands is extremely controversial within Canada. It is as desperate a move as fracking to keep us dependent on fossil fuels, and is proof that oil is a finite resource.
Have you ever seen the oil drilling map of the Gulf of Mexico? There are over 30,000 holes in Gulf for extracting oil. One of the things we should have considered during the BP crisis was what it means when so much oil is taken from the sea bed. Have we ever seen an expert’s opinion about what could happen if these Swiss cheese holes should collapse?
Once upon a time, the world wore beaver hats, until we have harvested beavers to the brink of extinction. Once upon a time, the world ran on whale oil, until we had hunted whales to the brink. Now, we are pushing fossil fuels to the brink, mining coal and extracting oil and gas from more and more dangerous sources. It was President Carter who first suggested that we needed to start replacing oil as our primary source of energy. He was elected in 1976. That was 35 years ago. Instead of making solid progress at replacing fossil fuels, we have decided to squeeze the very last micron of coal or drop of oil from the earth in the most environmentally unsafe ways possible. If saying no to the Keystone XL project helps us focus on the entirety of this debate, this decision is godsend.
In the meantime, watch the Republican PAC machine turn this decision into an indictment of the President’s job record.
In support of SOPA and PIPA protests, we are providing no links to this story. Original story material gathered from MSNBC, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, multiple newspapers and websites.