Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Keystone XL Pipeline: Debunking Four Cardinal Lies

There are a number of widely circulated factually inaccurate views associated with the Keystone XL. Here is a review of several prominent misrepresentations in the areas of jobs, energy independence, decreased costs and the idea that tar sands oil will be expanded whether or not the northern leg of the pipeline is built.

1. Jobs

There are wild numbers that are thrown around regarding the number of jobs that will be created by the pipeline. Some of the estimates suggest that tens of thousands of jobs will be created by the pipeline. The truth is that independent estimates suggest far fewer jobs will be created. The President himself indicated that there will only be a few dozen permanent jobs created by the Keystone. The most realistic estimates, said the president, show that KXL “might create maybe 2,000 jobs during the construction of the pipeline, which might take a year or two.” And after that, “we’re talking about somewhere between 50 and 100 jobs in an economy of 150 million working people.”

2. Energy Independence

According to the logic of some people,  increasing the flow of tar sands oil from Canada will make the US more energy independent. The truth is that most of this oil will be processed in the US and shipped abroad.

3. Decreased Costs

Some have suggested that the cost of oil can be decreased by increasing the amount of oil in the US. However, according to the Bank of Canada, even if North American production adds an additional 3.4 million barrels per day to global supply over the next three years, this would result in a 13 percent reduction in global oil prices by the end of 2015.

4. It Will be Exploited Anyway

Another argument suggests that tar sands oil production will increase whether or not the US approves the Keystone XL. This is simply not true. Expansion is directly related to markets. At present there are no viable means of getting the tar sands to foreign markets. Alternative pipelines like the Northern Gateway that would ferry the oil to the West Coast have been stymied. Even if a pipeline were built to either the West or East coasts, the tar sands bitumen being shipped would still require significant refining infrastructure.

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