OK, we all love top 10 lists, right? Obama’s decision to shut down the permitting process for the Keystone XL oil pipeline was a good one… I’m sorry, a great one! Here are 10 top reasons why:
10. The pipeline has received extremely little actual government oversight. “[T]he Department of State allowed a contractor with a financial arrangement with TransCanada, which seeks to build the Keystone XL pipeline, to conduct the Department’s environmental review mandated under federal law as part of its consideration of TransCanada’s proposed pipeline,” a 2011 investigation discovered. And as I mentioned in a long, November post on that investigation and other matters, “for years, the State Department’s Keystone XL review body was only one, junior-level staffer. This is a $7-billion-dollar project! One staffer?”
9. Oil pipelines leak. And this one could leak all over the U.S. “One tar sands pipeline operated by the same company behind the Keystone XL project experienced 35 leaks in the U.S. and Canada its first year of operation and had to be temporarily shut down by the U.S. Department of Transportation,” France Beinecke of the NRDC writes.
8. Did I mention that oil pipelines leak and are risky. Well, from someone who supports oil pipelines in general, an oil pipeline inspector and engineer, said this one should not be built. “Mike Klink is a former inspector for Bechtel, one of the major contractors working on TransCanada’s original Keystone pipeline, completed in 2010. Klink says he raised numerous concerns about shoddy materials and poor craftsmanship during construction of the pipeline, which brings tar sands crude from Canada to Midwestern refineries in the U.S. Instead of actually addressing the problems, Klink claims he was fired by Bechtel in retaliation…. Klink, who says he’s speaking as an engineer and not an environmentalist, has just published a scathing op-ed in the Lincoln Journal Star criticizing Keystone XL….’As an inspector, my job was to monitor the construction of the first Keystone pipeline. I oversaw construction at the pump stations that have been such a problem on that line, which has already spilled more than a dozen times. I am coming forward because my kids encouraged me to tell the truth about what was done and covered up…. Let’s be clear — I am an engineer; I am not telling you we shouldn’t build pipelines. We just should not build this one.’” (Much more from Klink via the links above.)
7. The oil isn’t even for the U.S.! “Here in the United States, oil companies trumpet false job claims and promise a secure supply of oil. But in the Canadian press, oil companies talk freely about using the pipeline to export oil to Asian markets and charge more money for the oil they do sell in the U.S.,” France Beinecke writes. “In Congressional testimony, TransCanada refused to support a condition that the oil in Keystone XL would be used in the United States…. Claims that the pipeline would have delivered a secure supply of oil to America were also wildly overblown. The Keystone XL pipeline would have been an export pipeline. By rerouting tar sands oil out of the Midwest and into the “Foreign Trade Zone” in Port Arthur, Texas, companies could ship it anywhere in the world. Indeed, companies get incentives to export from there.”
6. Jobs schmobs! While the oil industry and its bought politicians and media lie to us repeatedly by telling us that the pipeline would create tens of thousands of jobs, the company developing the pipeline, TransCanada, stated (when on record) that it would only create “hundreds” of permanent jobs. Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department had that number at 20. And, a thorough, independent analysis from researchers at Cornell said it could even cost the U.S. jobs in the long term!
5. We don’t create energy independence by focusing our efforts and money on further oil production. We get much more bang for the buck by putting all of that into clean energy vehicles and clean power options. Bottom line.
4. Obama is listening to and supporting citizens (i.e. doing his job). Over 10,000 people got off their couches and encircled the White House in November to oppose this project. Over 1,000 got arrested last summer in opposition to it. This tremendous show of concern and passion came about for a reason — the project was bad for the American people.
3. Republicans in congress and the oil industry tried to bully Obama into approving the pipeline without even adequately reviewing its environmental impacts (even sending a public email to him stating that rejecting the pipeline would result in “huge political consequences.”). That’s plain stupid (unless you know that a good review will result in pipeline rejection and all your money is on the pipeline going through). Standing up for the millions or even billions of people who rely on clean water and a livable climate by not rushing a full review is the right thing to do.
2. Tar sands development and the Keystone XL pipeline that would enable a ton of that was essentially “the fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet.” Tar sands oil is 3 times worse for the global climate than conventional crude oil. Goodbye, livable climate, in other words.
1. The U.S. would get practically nothing from the project. On the other hand, it would face numerous risks and problems. Additionally, the world would suffer tremendously from it. In other words, all of the above.