Exxon's latest oil pipeline breach has provoked lots of negative press for TransCanada and its contentious Keystone XL pipeline proposal. Salon.com neatly encapsulates the issue, juxtaposing a video of the 10,000-barrel mess in Arkansas with the basic reasons I've been laying out for why there is no compelling reason to take on the risk of another tar sands pipeline across South Dakota:
- Keystone XL would not reduce foreign oil dependency. In fact, according to its own presentation to investors, the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline is quite clear most if not all of the extracted tar sands oil would be sent to oversees markets (where oil fetches a higher price).
- Keystone XL would increase domestic oil prices. Again, this comes not from environmental activists but the Keystone XL pipeline company itself. According todocuments produced by TransCanada, the company notes that because new pipeline capacity would allow Midwestern oil reserves to be drained and shipped, the Keystone XL pipeline would have the effect of increasing domestic oil prices in the United States, especially in the Midwest.
- Keystone XL would not create nearly as many jobs as promised. In its early applications for permits, TransCanada said the Keystone XL pipeline would create about 3,500 to 4,200 temporary construction jobs. After all, once the pipeline is built there’s not much work to be done except for cleaning up spills. But when the pipeline hit political roadblocks, TransCanada increased the number of jobs the project would supposedly create to over 20,000 — a number frequently repeated by supporters of the pipeline project. But PolitiFact found these assertions were false. TransCanada is simply inflating the numbers to try and sway public opinion and political support [Sally Kohn, "New Spill Reveals How Horrible Keystone Could Be," Salon.com, 2013.04.01].
The oil goes to China, our prices go up, and the job figures are lies... when will folks like John Thune and Tim Johnson get it?
Economist and oil market analyst Philip Verleger summarizes the No-Keystone-XL argument much more concisely:
"The oil crisis is going away," Verleger says. "We have plenty of oil. We have too much oil" [Tracy Samilton, "EPA's Push For More Ethanol Could Be Too Little, Too Late," NPR, 2013.04.01].
If we don't need Keystone XL's oil, we don't need it's risk. President Obama, shut TransCanada's land grab down.
p.s.: Note that Verleger makes that statement in an argument that we don't need any more government support for ethanol, either. Uh oh!
pp.s.: A new EPA report finds that 58.4% of the rivers and streams in the vast Plains region are in poor condition. Keystone XL won't improve that number.