Republicans appear oblivious to both environmental issues and the economic difficulties of Americans. On Friday December 16, Republicans in Congress decided to play a game of chicken with America by linking the passage of the social security payroll tax-cut extension and employment benefits to the Keystone XL pipeline.
Republicans are also pressuring the President to make a decision about the pipeline in just 60 days. However, the State Department has indicated that 60 days is not enough time to explore the issues involved and make a responsible decision.
Although Republicans seem hell-bent on pushing through the Keystone XL. it is hard to justify increasing fossil fuel exploitation in light of
the irrefutable body of evidence demonstrating the link between
petrochemicals and climate change. We can ill afford to add to more greenhouse gases (GHGs) to the atmosphere. This is
particularly true of tar sands oil which is far more energy and GHG
intensive then conventional oil.
If the Republicans have their way, the Keystone will ferry more than eight hundred thousand barrels of tar sands bitumen from Alberta to the the Gulf coast each day. Some scientists have concluded that the rampant exploitation of the tar sands is “game over” for efforts to combat climate change. Further, an oil spill could have devastating consequences to people and wildlife. It may also endanger the huge Ogallala Aquifer which provides drinking water for millions of Americans.
Republicans commonly exaggerate the benefits of the Keystone XL. While some have suggested it will provide tens of thousands of jobs, it will be lucky to supply more than a few hundred full time jobs. Independent research including a study from Cornell University, suggests that the economic benefits have been wildly overstated. There are more jobs to be had from supporting
alternatives to fossil fuels.
If the issue is weaning America off of
foreign oil, it makes more sense to encourage the
growth of alternatives that would move the nation’s energy infrastructure away from fossil fuels altogether.
Some have argued that if America does not use tar sands oil it will be used by others (ie exported to Asia), but this is a flawed argument. According to a number of different analyses, it will be far harder and more expensive to deliver tar sands oil to overseas markets than it is to ferry it by pipe to the US.
Going forward with the Keystone will only increase American’s mistaken belief that they can continue to
rely on hydrocarbons. Increasing access to fossil fuels will also
diminish the impetus to find cleaner alternatives and enhance efficiency
Perhaps most importantly, building the Keystone XL will expedite the extraction of Alberta’s tar sands and raise GHGs.
Supporting the Keystone XL tar sands project makes no sense and tying it to much needed economic aid amounts to blackmail. Rather than threaten to deprive Americans of financial support, Republicans in Congress should be working on strategies to push for alternatives that will provide jobs and grow the economy without imperiling the environment.
© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.
Tar Sands Day of Action in Washington DC
President Obama and the Fate of the Keystone XL Pipeline
NRDC November 6 Protest Against the Keystone XL in Washington DC
Nebraska’s Special Session to Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline
South Dakota Wants Additional Protections Against Spills from the Keystone XL Pipeline
Safety Measures for the Keystone XL Rejected by Environmentalists in Nebraska
State Department Hearings for the Keystone XL Pipeline
Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline Protest
Cornell University Questions the Economic Benefits of the Keystone XL Pipeline
Keystone XL Protest Ends in Washington
Oil Spills Add to Concerns about the Keystone XL Pipeline
Nobel Prize Laureates Oppose Keystone XL Pipeline
Religious Leaders Join the Protest Against Keystone XL Pipeline
US Protests Against the Tar Sands Oil
Canada on Track to be a Dirty Energy Superpower
Bill McKibben and other Protestors Jailed for their Opposition to the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline
Video: NASA’s Leading Climatologist Addresses Crowd Before he was Arrested at the Keystone XL Tar Sands Protest in Washington