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 Political and Social Commentary By Dave Satre
The Keystone XL Pipeline Project

The Keystone XL pipeline is a $7 billion project to transport tar-sand oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast for refining and distribution. The question is, whether we, as the people of this nation, would really benefit from this scar slashing across the midsection of our country.

And, if not, who actually does benefit from this project?

The arguments in favor of the project include reducing our country's dependency on foreign oil through a pact with Canada and promises of lower fuel prices for American citizens. The pipeline is expected to transport 830,000 million barrels a day,

Estimates of the number of jobs created by the Keystone pipeline range from a low of just 100 to over a million proclaimed by Texas governor Rick Perry. TransCanada estimates the pipeline would create 20,000 jobs: 13,000 temporary jobs in construction and 7,000 in manufacturing. The U.S. State Department estimates that only 5,000 to 6,000 construction jobs will be created. This is only the equivalent of employing a couple of small midwestern towns. Developing a clean energy economy would create many more jobs.

Arguments against the pipeline include potentially devastating pollution considerations associated with the technologies involved in Fracking oil. These include air quality and potable water concerns related to faulty wells, leaky ponds and spills. Well-casing failures have already contaminated aquifers that North Dakota towns rely on for potable water. The Sierra Club considers these environmental concerns serious enough to break its cardinal rule against public protests in support of a cause.

The Fracking process begins by drilling a well almost two miles deep then running a horizontal pipe into rock containing oil. Over two million gallons of water, over 350 barrels of chemicals, many of them toxic, and four million pounds of proppant are pumped at high pressure to fracture the rock and release the oil. Only 20 percent of the water is recycled.

But, the primary question should be: What Are The Costs To American Taxpayers? The answer to the eternally evaded questions related to the funding for this monstrous project is: Not one single nickle should be charged to the American Tax Payers!

This project comes at a time when our government is cutting down on vital services and still squandering vast sums supporting countries all over the world, while abandoning funding for the services necessary to a vital democracy in our own country.

We need to improve our educational systems and healthcare services. We must secure Social Security for future generations and focus on the rebuilding of our long-abandoned infrastructure. These projects will provide far more jobs than the pipeline and the country and its people will actually benefit from them.

Who actually benefits from the pipeline? Big Oil! Definitely not American citizens. The oil companies are historically the most profitable companies in the world. If there ever was an industry totally capable of operating successfully without the need for any government funding, it would be the oil industry.

Refineries that are linked to the pipeline as committed shippers will reportedly receive between $1 billion and $1.8 billion in tax breaks. The largest of these refineries, Motiva, will receive between $680 million and $1.1 billion in U.S. taxpayer support. Oil companies in Canada, refineries in Wood River and Patoka, Illinois, distributors, shipping services and refineries in Texas will all benefit from the pipeline.

Why Oil refineries in Texas? The real plan, generally understated or undeclared in the related rhetoric, is to ship the tar sands oil to foreign countries and to exploit those markets for profit, not to lower prices for Americans. The final destination is Port Arthur, Texas, which has several refineries and a nearby port for shipping oil overseas.

The oil industry continues to pitch this project as a path toward lowering fuel prices in the country, but this is highly unlikely in an industry that is accustomed to raising its prices at will. Before our Congress squanders any government funds on the project they need to demand something in return. For example:

A guaranteed lowering of gas and fuel prices to a level that is adequate for lower incomes.
And a tie to the annual inflation rate for all future increases in prices.
So, who is paying for the pipeline and who owns it? TransCanada is the company promoting the pipeline. The company recently received regulatory approval to purchase ConocoPhillips' interest in the project and is currently the sole owner of the Keystone Pipeline System.

A pipeline to West Coast ports would actually be shorter and much cheaper for TransCanada. It would also provide access to Far Eastern markets, including China, and the south seas. And tankers can ship crude oil to California refineries, as well as barge, rail and existing pipelines into the USA.

The environmental concerns override the need for increased profits for Big Oil. It would be much better for our government, our industries and the American people to focus on the development of renewable energy sources for our future.

The Keystone Pipeline will only serve to extend the current market for pollution producing fuels.



Bill Moyers


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