I'd like to know what an intelligent discussion about the Keystone XL pipeline would sound like, and I'm serious about this. I asked an industry friend what he thought about the pipeline controversy, and his response was "they should just approve it so we can have a new way to move product to market." There are arguments about how the pipeline will create jobs, but there are also people who say the jobs estimates are being horrifically exaggerated by oil company shills like John Hoeven. There are folks arguing that it will help to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, but they forget Canada is a foreign -- socialist, for that matter -- country.
So I'm serious when I say I'd like to hear or read a serious, fact-driven conversation about the Keystone XL.
I'm going to take a shot at starting that discussion. First, I'd like to talk about some of the facts Keystone XL advocates NEVER talk about:
Does the Keystone XL cross through North Dakota? No. The Keystone XL does not cross through the Bakken in North Dakota. (Some people have suggested to me that it does.) It's the red dashes on the map. It just doesn't pass through North Dakota. It starts up in Canada, south of Edmonton, Alberta, cuts through Montana, just misses the southwest corner of North Dakota, goes through a bunch of South Dakota, cuts through the sandhill region of Nebraska -- home to the Ogallala Aquifer that provides drinking water to parts of 8 states -- and connects to the main Keystone pipeline (drawn in solid red on the map) near Steele City, Nebraska. The project also includes an extension of the line from Cushing, Oklahoma, to points along the Gulf Coast in Texas.
How many U.S. jobs will be created by the project? Reasonable estimates suggest it'll be somewhere between 2,500 and 9,500 temporary, non-local jobs. The U.S. Department of State has estimated the project will create somewhere between 5,500 jobs and 9,500 jobs. A company hired to advocate for the project claims it will create 118,935 jobs. For an explanation of the discrepancy, click here. Cornell University did an independent study and estimates that the project may create between 2,500 and 4,650 jobs but may ultimately cost the U.S. jobs in the long run. "Most jobs will be temporary and non-local" according to the Cornell study. The conclusion of the Cornell report is that "employment potential from KXL is little or not; decision should be based on other factors." So why are the Johns -- Hoeven and Boehner -- on Fox News misinforming the public about how it will create "200,000" jobs? A real journalist would have asked him what orafice he pulled that number out of.
Because they are Republicans and prone to making stuff up, I guess.
How much of the steel for the project will come from American steel factories? None. Not a single piece of steel for the project will come from U.S. factories. That's one reason why the jobs estimate from Cornell is so low. (It's in the report. Look it up.)
Will the KXL Pipeline mean more and better paying jobs in North Dakota? I'm not aware of anybody actually making a cogent argument that the project will create one job in North Dakota. Not even John Hoeven or Rick Berg. They're simply shilling for the Canadian oil companies and trying to score political points with stupid people.
If the Canadians already have a pipeline running from Alberta to Cushing, why do they want another one? They want to be able to increase capacity and also want to get this additional oil all they way to the Gulf Coast, so it can be exported to foreign markets, bypassing Midwest refineries like the one in Mandan, ND.
How will the pipeline impact oil production in North Dakota? Good question. First, since -- as noted above -- the KXL doesn't actually pass through North Dakota, North Dakota oil would still need to get to the pipe. There wll apparently be an "inlet" to the pipe near Baker, Montana. But if both the Keystone pipes are full of Canadian tar sands oil, there won't be any room for American oil. If the pipes are not full, either North Dakota oil will need to be trucked to Baker, or new pipelines will need to be approved and laid down through the places like the badlands and the National Grasslands. Or there will need to be an increase in truck traffic between the oil field and Baker, MT. And that's just what we need in North Dakota, right? More truck traffic in the oil field.
Will gas be cheaper if the Keystone XL is approved? No. Gas prices are guaranteed to increase in North Dakota and surrounding states because Canadian oil will no longer be available to North Dakota's refinery and others in the region. By advocating for the Keystone XL pipeline, John Hoeven, Rick Berg and all the Republican oil company puppets are advocating for higher gas prices for North Dakotans. How do we know this is true?!? The company proposing the pipeline openly admits it -- even brags about it -- in Canada. "According to TransCanada, KXL will increase the price of heavy crude oil in the Midwest by almost $2 to $4 billion annually, and escalating for several years. (Click here) It will do this by diverting major volumes of Tar Sands oil now supplying the Midwest refineries, so it can be sold at higher prices to the Gulf Coast and export markets. As a result, consumers in the Midwest could be paying 10 to 20 cents more per gallon for gasoline and diesel fuel, adding up to $5 billion to the annual US fuel bill. (Click here, go to page 27, for source)
Do pipelines like this ever leak? Yes. "Between 2000 and 2009, pipeline accidents were responsible for 2,794 significant incidents and 161 fatalities in the United States. In 2010 alone, Enbridge pipelines spilled over 1 million gallons of oil from Canada’s tar sands into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River; 275,000 gallons in a suburb of Chicago; and 126,000 gallons near Neche, North Dakota. And within a few months of beginning operation, TransCanada’s recently completed Keystone pipeline had leaked at least three times in South Dakota." (Click here and go to pages 2-3.)
Has NorthDecoder.com covered all the negative impacts of building the Keystone XL Pipeline? No. For these and several other bullet points, click here. Among other things, if you click through to that, you'll learn that Canadians are happy to report that the KXL will create a $3.9 billion drag on the U.S. economy. The main goal of the pipeline is to get Canadian oil to China. It's bad for the long-term U.S. environmental policy. Etc. It's also important to note that the pipeline crosses both the Yellowstone River and the Missouri River upstream from Lake Sakakawea. What could possibly go wrong, right?
Why haven't I read or heard anything about these facts in North Dakota's newspapers or on TV or radio here? That's easy. Because we don't have any real journalists here.
Why are Republicans like John Hoeven and Rick Berg advocating so aggressively -- even lying on Fox News -- for something that really doesn't have any positive impact for America? Beats the shit out of me.
Sorry. That got a little sassy there at the end. That's been known to happen.
Okay, so seriously... So knowing these things to be true, who can give me "the other side" to the argument. If there is one.