Like the old adage, “when a bell rings, an angel gets its wings,” when a TV studio light shines, a right-wing pundit touts the amazing job creating capabilities of the Keystone Pipeline. The pipeline, they say, will solve all our financial woes. Magically, we will have 4% unemployment and complete independence from middle eastern oil.
If only any of that were true. In this video, CNN shows that while the pipeline might create around 20,000 short-term jobs, the long-term jobs will number only in the 100s. There are 12.7 million unemployed people in the US. Even at the 20,000 rate, the singular GOP jobs plan would decrease the number of unemployed by .0016%.
Here’s the video:
The Obama jobs plan, on the other hand, would provide between 1.5 million and 2 million jobs. Obviously, this still isn’t enough, but jobs, unlike tax cuts for the wealthy, actually do trickle down. Every employed person stops being a burden to the taxpayer and starts being a taxpayer, increasing our country’s bottom line. Every employed person buys things, enabling retailers to expand. Our biggest way out of the recession is to put more people back to work, not to say we can’t afford to put people back to work.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe CNN is wrong. Maybe there are some long-term jobs to be found with the Keystone Pipeline. While there isn’t, as of yet, a dollar value placed on the environmental damage the pipeline, extending from Canada to the Gulf Coast, has done or will do, look for it to be significant.
Tar sands oil production has already created more than 50 square miles of toxic waste ponds so massive they are visible from space. Even more important, tar sands oil extraction produces three times more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional oil and gas, putting even greater strain on our atmosphere and oceans, which have little absorptive capacity left.
Closer to home, the pipeline presents an immediate threat to drinking water for millions and to the livelihood of farmers and ranchers. To transport via pipeline, the thick tar sands crude must be mixed with toxic chemicals and then pumped at extreme temperature and pressure. This sets the stage for more pipeline failures and spills that create a highly toxic mess.
The existing Keystone 1 tar sands pipeline has spilled more than 12 times in its first 12 months of operation. In July 2010, a spill of more than 800,000 gallons of toxic tar sands crude from the Enbridge pipeline contaminated more than 30 miles of water and shoreline along the Kalamazoo River in Michigan. This created public health problems, threats to groundwater, widespread fish kills, and destruction of wildlife habitat, contamination that is still being cleaned up at a cost exceeding $700 million. Downstream landowners like me are thinking this is a preview of coming attractions if Keystone XL is built.
Look for toxic waste cleanup to be the next boom industry, should the Keystone XL go forward.
But what about all-important energy independence? The pipeline is also a dud on that front. From Tar Sands Action:
Keystone XL is an export pipeline. According to presentations to investors, Gulf Coast refiners plan to refine the cheap Canadian crude supplied by the pipeline into diesel and other products for export to Europe and Latin America. Proceeds from these exports are earned tax-free. Much of the fuel refined from the pipeline’s heavy crude oil will never reach U.S. drivers’ tanks.
In fact, the pipeline would actually increase the price of gasoline.
It should come as no surprise that the GOP’s only jobs plan, other than more tax cuts, won’t get us out of our unemployment crisis. Their singular goal is not to help the country, it is to see that one more person loses his job, Barack Obama.