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A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?

08 March 2012

The Keystone XL Pipeline Controversy

It’s really sad that there is so much misinformation out there concerning the TransCanada Corporation's Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline. The mainstream and public media really aren’t doing their jobs. For example, there was this article today on Yahoo News:


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate has rejected a Republican bid to speed approval of an oil pipeline from Canada to Texas.

The 56-42 vote Thursday was the latest in a series of partisan skirmishes over the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil derived from tar sands in western Canada to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast. Sixty votes were needed for approval.

President Barack Obama rejected the proposed $7 billion pipeline in January, citing uncertainty over a yet-to-be-settled route that avoids the environmentally sensitive Sandhills region in Nebraska. Obama said there was not enough time for a fair review before a deadline forced on him by Republicans.

Pipeline supporters call it an important job creator. Opponents say it would transport "dirty oil" that requires huge amounts of energy to produce.

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What people fail to realize is that most of this Canadian oil is not bound for the U.S. market. Oh, no. Canada currently has no way of getting this oil to the international market. Thus, the Keystone XL pipeline would merely be their way of doing that. The destination refinery in Texas is 50% owned by the Saudis! When I point this out to people they go, “Yeah but…uhh, more oil on the international market is a good thing and might bring the price of oil down.” Uh-huh. Right. Face reality - oil from the KXL pipeline will not directly do anything for the price of gasoline for you and me.

The other thing people always misquote is the cost of the pipeline – in this case it’s noted as being “$7 billion.” Big, impressive number, right? Well…not exactly. According TransCanada’s permit application, the entire cost of the KXL pipeline is in fact estimated to be $7 billion. And of that $7 billion $1.8 billion has already been spent! That brings us down to $5.2 billion. However, only 77% of the pipeline will be built in the U.S. That leaves only $4 billion left for the U.S. portion. And remember, these are estimates; they’re probably optimistic. More realistically, TransCanada will probably spend $3 to $4 billion on the U.S. portion of KXL. That’s still a lot of money, I get that, but exaggeration and hyperbole seems to abound with regard to this project. Speaking of which…

What about all these wonderful jobs that would be created? Depending on who's doing the talking, the numbers vary from "thousands" to "tens of thousands" to hundreds of thousands! Bullshit. Plain and simple bullshit. TransCanada’s own calculations on their Federal Environmental Impact Study are that the pipeline will generate between 2,500 and 5,000 jobs. The catch is that these are temporary jobs that will move along as does the pipeline. Once the pipeline is completed in that area those jobs go away. Number of permanent jobs created? About 600, at the metering/pumping stations along the way – the refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast already exist. That’s a far cry from the hundreds of thousands! we hear so much about in the news.

People like to use this KXL pipeline as some sort of weapon with which to beat up on the president. They say that he is doing all sorts of bad things by not approving the project, from being a "jobs killer" to keeping the price of gasoline high and not doing a thing about our so-called "dependence on foreign oil." I'd like to point out here that EVERY president since Nixon has said that we must end our “dependence” on foreign oil. Every goddam one of them. But exactly NONE of them has done anything about it. So if you want to criticize Obama, go ahead. But let’s not forget Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton and Bush II. (And it makes me wonder: What do they know that we don't? What aren't they telling us?)

For more information, you can read the report that TransCanada commissioned by a company called the Perryman group, which is where much of the information used by the media and various politicians comes from. And you can read the counter report that Cornell University's Global Labor Institute did on it. They’re both extremely interesting.

For me, the bottom line is this: Supporters of the KXL insist that Canadian oil is “ethical” oil- that is, not sourced from countries run by lunatic dictators (are there any other kind?). But here’s what Cornell University had to say:

...KXL is a global project driven by global oil interests. Tar Sands development has attracted investment capital from oil multinationals—with Chinese corporations’ stake getting bigger all the time. If approved, KXL will be almost certainly be constructed by temporary labor working with steel made in Canada and India. Much of the Tar Sands oil will be refined in Port Arthur, Texas, where the refinery is half-owned by Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil company of Saudi Arabia. And a good portion of the oil that will gush down the KXL will, according to some studies, probably end up being finally consumed beyond the territorial United States. Indeed, the oil industry is also trying to build another pipeline, Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway, to carry Tar Sands oil across British Columbia for export to Asian markets, although this pipeline also faces serious public opposition. Clearly, Tar Sands oil and [U.S.] energy independence really do not belong in the same sentence.

The President and Congress are right to take their time and make sure this project gets done right.



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