Another day, another delay: Keystone XL Pipeline gets pushed to the back burner


Obama’s done it again. Approval on the impending environmental catastrophe known as the Keystone XL Pipeline has been delayed one more time, this time until after the mid-term elections in November. Depending on whom you talk to, it’s either a victory for the environment or a disaster for America. Both supporters and opponents of the project have criticized the decision as a delaying tactic.
And so it is. It’s also good policy. There simply is no reason to approve this thing. Sure, the supporters claim it will create jobs, lower oil prices and produce a new era of prosperity and wealth for Americans. During the last election, candidates bandied about figures that would make any propagandist proud, claiming anywhere from 600,000 to 3.5 million new jobs. Hogwash. Independent studies have shown the employment “boom” the pipeline would create amounts to less than 10,000.
Not, of course, that those ten thousand people wouldn’t appreciate the work, but it wouldn’t be permanent. And it sure isn’t even close to the hundreds of thousands claimed by some pipeline supporters. Nearly 25 times that were added last month alone, without the help of the KXL.
The other claim, that it will lead to lower oil prices, is also nonsense. The oil companies have been rakin’ it in by the bucketload since the Bush years, largely due to speculative trading and a lax regulatory environment. That’s right, I said ‘lax.’ Don’t forget, the Bush administration, aided and abetted by Republicans in Congress, exempted energy companies from compliance with the Clean Air and Water Acts. So basically, they have a green light to pollute, and there’s not much that can be done to stop them. Obama has tried to correct this mistake but has met resistance at every turn. If I had a dime every time some conservative blathered on about “job killing regulations” I’d be able to retire tomorrow. There’s no truth to that claim, either – corporations will always moan about regulations, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t needed. Rules are there to prevent abuse and punish abusers. If you’re complaining about them, you’re probably the kind of person they were written for.
And as to the notion that the pipeline is safe and will reduce greenhouse gasses, we have only the evidence of recent history to disprove that claim. In the past year alone, there’s hardly been a week gone by that oil hasn’t poisoned the land somewhere in America. Entire communities have been turned into wastelands by oil industry negligence, and there’s no sign of either atonement or correction. Thanks, again, to the Bush administration’s deregulatory fervor.
And reducing greenhouse gasses? Let me get this straight – producing more oil to burn, which contributes to climate change, is supposed to stop climate change. That’s like a doctor prescribing meth to a speed freak to get them off the drug. And the production effort in Canada’s tar sands (excuse me, the Canadian conservative government would like us to call them “oil sands”) is hardly a clean operation. Millions of square acres have been transformed into a toxic hell thanks to our addiction to oil. That’s neither clean nor green.
But what about oil prices? Supporters claim it will bring down the price of gas to pre-recession levels. I say that’s more propaganda. The oil companies have been raking it in for the past ten years or more. If you really think they’re going to give that up, just because of one new pipeline, I have some ocean-front property in Arizona to sell you.
At the end of the day, the only permanent jobs the KXL will create will be for cleanup crews, respiratory therapists and oncologists. And while I’m sure doctors who treat cancer patients love their work, I’m equally sure the last thing they want is more business. Delaying the KXL is the right move. Killing it permanently would be a better one. The last thing we need is another oil spill on American soil.