FACE OFF: Keystone XL Pipeline is wrong for America
The national debate surrounding the Keystone XL pipeline has obscured the fact that a key purpose of the pipeline is to export Canadian oil to the world market via the U.S. Gulf Coast. Canada isn’t even producing enough oil to fill its existing pipelines, which are running half-empty. So why is Keystone XL such a priority for the oil industry? Because Keystone XL is actually a pipeline that bypasses America in order to maximize Big Oil’s profits.
By skipping over refineries and U.S. consumers in the Midwest, the Keystone XL pipeline would be able to send Canadian crude to the Gulf Coast refineries in tax-free Foreign Trade Zones, where it can be refined and then sold to international buyers at a higher profit to Big Oil.
There are clear alternatives to allowing the United States to be an oil conduit merely to accommodate the growing profits for big oil companies. As American gasoline consumption continues to lessen, the United States can continue its current trajectory to reduce its oil dependency by improving fuel efficiency and clean energy investments. These investments will create tens of thousands more jobs than Keystone XL ever would, and as importantly, without risking a major oil spill. Taking concrete steps to reduce the country’s oil dependence is the only way to increase U.S. energy security.
The Keystone XL pipeline would have transported toxic tar sands from under Canada’s Boreal forest 2,000 miles to the Gulf of Mexico to be refined and exported. Approving the pipeline would bring increased production of one of the dirtiest, most polluting forms of oil over the coming decades.
Tar sands oil is not only difficult, costly and energy-intensive to produce but also dirtier and more corrosive than conventional oil. Leaks and spills threaten rivers, aquifers and communities all along the route.
According to the U.S. State Department the pipeline would create at most 6,500 temporary construction jobs, and would leave only “hundreds” of permanent jobs, according to TransCanada, the Canadian company that wants to build the pipeline. Claims that the pipeline would employ tens or even hundreds of thousands of people are simply not true. A Cornell University study concludes the pipeline would kill more jobs than it would create, by reducing investment in the clean energy economy.
Producing synthetic crude oil from tar sands generates three times the global warming pollution of conventional crude production. Extracting tar sands, a low-grade, high-sulfur crude oil that must be extensively refined to be turned into fuel, uses vast amounts of energy and water.
Keystone XL would have diverted Canadian oil from refineries in the Midwest to the Gulf Coast where it could be refined and exported. Many of these refineries are in Foreign Trade Zones where oil may be exported to international buyers without paying U.S. taxes.
The facts reveal this pipeline was never in America’s national interest. Clean energy and fuel efficiency is the path forward for economic and energy security in America. By rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline, President Obama is helping move America down a cleaner, safer path.
Candace Bouchard is a state representative and city councilor from the city of Concord.