Yoveta Adams 12/14/12 English 1101 9:00 A. M. Essay # 6 The Economy vs. the Environment The unemployment rate is almost nine percent, the value of the American dollar is steadily declining, and the housing market is far from stable. It is undeniable that the American people need jobs. TransCanada, “a leader in North American energy production” (Canadian Business Resource) and its subsidiary, TransCanada Pipelines Limited has a seven billion dollar plan to create jobs by extending the already existing Keystone Pipeline.
The Keystone pipeline harvests oil from the tar sands in Hardesty, Alberta then runs the crude oil to Patoka, Illinois. The plan is to extend the pipeline from Hardesty to run through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma to finally end in Port Arthur, Texas where it can be refined. According to TransCanada, this can potentially create thousands of jobs including: 13,000 Americans to construct the pipeline-pipefitters, welders, mechanics, electricians, heavy equipment operators, among other jobs-in addition to 7,000 manufacturing jobs….
And additionally local businesses along the pipeline route will benefit from the 118,000 spin off jobs Keystone XL will create through increased businesses for local goods and service providers. (TransCanada) That’s a lot of jobs. Not only that, this can help to reduce our dependency on outside sources to supply us with crude oil, according to Chris Sorenson that this “36 inch diameter pipeline could Adams Page 2 Potentially triple the existing pipeline capacity to 1. 3 million barrels per day” That’s great!
Not only will this create over a hundred thousand jobs, it can also help lower the price of gas, considering it won’t be coming from middle east, it will be coming from our neighbors to the north. So why has President Barack Obama, decided to push back the decision to approve or deny the extension until after the 2012 election? Many republicans, including Speaker of the House, John Boehner think this is detrimental to the American economy claiming, “By punting this project, the president has made it clear that campaign politics are driving U. S. policy decisions at the cost of American jobs. (Page 16) Maybe it has something to do with the environment. Like the fact that the already existing Keystone pipeline has been ordered shut down by the United States Department of Transportation, due to a series of leaks and spills. Elisabeth Rosenthal says that in May of 2011 alone, “the Keystone 1 pipeline suffered two leaks…one of which involved over 10,000 gallons of oil. ” (Page 1) In spite of this, TransCanada claims that “pipelines are the safest, most reliable, economical and environmentally favorable way to transport oil and petroleum products.
Leaks are rare and tend to be small. ” I don’t call ten thousand gallons small. Not only that, Rosenthal also states: Environmental experts have raised concerns about the possibility of leaks from Keystone XL, in part because TransCanada has been granted waivers that Adams Page 3 Effectively allow it to use thinner steel that would normally be required in the United States. They add that the company’s pipelines are particularly vulnerable because the oil from tar sands is more corrosive than conventional oil and is pumped under higher pressure and temperatures. Page 1) Still, oil corporations claim that this source of crude oil is ethical, even though the methods used to extract it is devastating to the environment and the ecosystems within. Environmental activist Bill McKibben declares: The biggest machines in the world scrape away the woods and dig down to the oily sand beneath, and so far they got three percent of the oil, but they’ve already moved more soil than the Great Wall of China, the Suez Canal, and the Aswan Dam and Pyramid of Cheops combined… (Page 40) And goes on to add:
Right now, the atmosphere holds 392 parts per million CO2 already dangerously above the 350 ppm scientists say is the maximum level. If you could somehow burn all the tar sands at once… the atmospheric concentration would rise another 150 parts per million. (Page 40) Lee Terry, a republican representative from Nebraska, recently drafted a bill that would allow the Federal Regulatory Commission to grant permits that would allow TransCanada to commence the project within thirty days of getting an application. I know we are desperate for Adams Page 4
Jobs but, how far can this bill go if the decision to build this pipeline was in Barak Obama’s hands alone and he already made the decision to wait until after the next election to decide? As for the thousands of jobs TransCanada claim this will create, the U. S. Department of State predicts the number will be closer to between twenty-five hundred and four thousand. That’s a big difference. Maybe the difference will stem from people that TransCanada will hire to clean up the existing mess that Keystone 1 has already created, and the ones that will happen in the future if they continue to use substandard materials to build the pipeline.
What about reducing our dependency on outside resources for crude oil? I mean that has to have some bearing in all of this. Alexander Cockburn suggests that “from day one of the Keystone XL scheme the oil companies’ plan has been to take the heavy crude from Alberta, refine it in Texas and then ship it in the form of middle distillates-diesel, jet fuel and heating oil-primarily to Europe and Latin America. ”(Page 9) I think this could potentially raise the price of gas in the U. S. considering we will be the ones to ship it.
One should also keep in mind that this is a pipeline, it takes oil from the earth and eventually, it will run out. It seems to me that this is just a short term solution. It certainly isn’t going to get Americans away from using crude oil as a sustainable source of energy, regardless of the amount of jobs this will create. If the Republican Party and TransCanada truly cared about the American economy and job creation, they would come up with a cleaner, more efficient, and less harmful way. The Keystone XL pipeline is a bad idea, and the way I see it the environment is more important than the economy.