The Obama Administration recently delayed a decision on building the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline indefinitely, a move that will likely take the Pipeline off the table for the 2014 Midterm Elections and quite possibly kill the Pipeline all together.
In February the Nebraska Supreme Court invalidated the route though its state, throwing into question where the project would be built and giving the Administration the excuse it needed to put off a decision, as 14 days remained in the 90-day decision extension that was agreed upon previously.
Obama supports environmental policy yet has had to walk a fine line on this issue for numerous reasons. For one, the American people support the pipeline’s construction, his base dramatically does not. While he is not up for election, the 2014 Midterm elections could sweep in a bunch of Tea Party idiots to the Senate and House making the rest of his term useless. His party also really wants to hold the Senate and make gains in the House. The Obamacare issue has already got his moderates in Mid-Western and Southern swing districts very nervous. His DINO (Democrat in Name Only) wing, Democrats like Mary Landrieu of Louisiana staunchly support the pipeline and even reasonable moderate Democrats in states both impacted and not impacted at all by the Pipeline, like Mike Warner of Virginia have come out in favor of it. Even progressives like Ed Schultz have toyed with supporting it, before deriding it now.
Canada’s Prime Minister says: “this project will create tens of thousands of jobs on both sides of the border,”
Remember when Fox News (Eric Bolling in 2011) claimed that the Keystone XL would be up to a million jobs? That number has really come down in recent years. Now we are splitting up around 20,000 between Canada (because if it was 30,000 or higher, that is what they would say, not TENS of thousands). Oh and that IS what the oil company, TransCanada is claiming, 13,000 total construction jobs and 7,000 manufacturing jobs split among several countries. The link above is to their propaganda site so you know something is amiss here.
Oh and wait, what’s that last one? Several countries? Which countries? Turns out that 50% of the pipeline construction will come from Canada, Italy and INDIA! Oh and they used math trickery, the way they count a “job year” to wildly inflate the number. According to Politifact, the number is realistically in the 10,000 job range, again split between numerous countries.
And according to the State Department, the job will create only 50 jobs once the 2 year construction ends. That’s right, 35 permanent jobs and 15 temporary contractors, totally 50.
35 permanent jobs doesn’t seem worth the potential to cause irreparable harm to the Ogallala Aquifer, which if damaged, could destroy farmers, which would destroy meat packing as well, and other jobs that use water in the Great Plains, which is pretty much, all of them.
Oh and there is the little matter of drinking water too. No water, no town, but hey, at least you’re paying a tenth of a cent less for gas! Well actually, that is wishful thinking in the first place according to pro-business CNBC, oh and also see below, it could even make it worse!
Which brings me to the environmental impact. The State Department claims that shipping oil by train or truck well end up with the same result of carbon emissions, despite the highly questionable nature of the report and the teams of scientists that protested how misleading the logic was.
Think Progress outlined 7 facts left out of the report that were very interesting. Read the report for the details, these are the bullet points:
Keystone XL, Not Rail, Is the Only Feasible Option
KXL’s ‘Alternative,’ Shipping Oil by Pipeline or Rail, Is Dangerous
KXL’s Tar Sands Oil Is Really Dirty
Oil From KXL Is Not Guaranteed to Stay In America
The Pipeline Could Increase Oil Spills
Gas Prices Will Rise Thanks To Keystone XL
‘Keystone XL Will Have Permanent Impacts on Wildlife’
Take a look at number 6. Yes the pipeline would bring more oil to Texas, bypassing the Midwest and reducing supply, not to mention, the whole concept of the pipeline is to ship this dirty oil to China through the Gulf Coast, it is about profits, of course, not increasing supply. That would reduce the price, therefore, profits. How stupid can we be to have ever think that multinational oil companies would have American interests at heart?
Then another report came out, from the The Carbon Tracker Initiative that completely contradicted the State Department report that suggests the impact would be significantly higher. The environmental devastation will be very significant at best, unthinkable at worst. We’ve seen what happened when an Exxon pipeline leaked. It was pretty awful. Imagine this gunk getting into the Ogallala Aquifer, the source of water for millions of Mid-Westerners. Imagine how many businesses would be devastated if they suddenly only had a toxic water supply? They create the feed that fills the bellies of cattle and pigs, that fills the bellies of most Americans. Imagine that! This has the potential to hurt us all for a measly few thousand temporary jobs.
As the public support for the pipeline is falling it is still at 62%. This is a tricky situation. The Ogallala Lakota Indian Nation is holding protests against the Pipeline, activists have marched on Washington and the public is really just starting to even know that the Pipeline even exists. Though 14 days were remaining for a decision to be made, not enough time to change the American people. A decision to build the stupid thing would hurt the base though help the party, a decision against would be vice-versa.
Easiest thing to do is punt until TransCanada gives up, though so far, with all of their threats to leave, all of their anger at today’s decision, my guess is they will still be there ready to turn environmental disaster into more money for the very few. So in either case, it is politically smart to push this past the election. A few thousand of potential temporary workers may be pissed and a few of the swing districts may be hurt sightly, though my guess is that the construction of the pipeline will not be the driving issue this November, if anyone remembers it exists at all. Running a campaign ad against a Democrat in a swing district that says the guy who publicly supports the pipeline didn’t do enough to prevent the decision from being delayed doesn’t really have a ring to it. Yet the anger that could potentially come from the base, who now can remain cynical with a twinge of hope in the back of their minds, will still turn up on Election Day to stop the Tea Baggers from ruining this country any further. Plus time could shift the public sentiment against the Pipeline.
It is ugly, though it is politics. Obama has proved today once more, he knows what he is doing, even announcing the decision on a Friday so it will be forgotten by Monday. Idealism has no place in politics, this is about pragmatism, about protecting our children from potential environmental and economic devastation for a nominal gain. So if you really want Obama to kill the pipeline, you’re gonna have to do a lot more than sit on your ass and hope he will make a decision that will hurt is party and is against the polls. You need to get involved!
For those who have said and done nothing though are against the Pipeline. You know have a second chance to help shape the public view.