The Keystone XL (the KXL) has caused quite a stir – Republicans are weeping and wringing their hands that 20,000 jobs have been lost and that we will never free ourselves from our dependence on foreign energy. What a misguided fallacy the Republicans and TransCanada – the Canadian energy company seeking to construct the pipeline – are pulling on the public. The KXL will not create steady employment, and it will not “cut” our dependence on foreign oil.
Job creation will be temporary with estimates ranging between 7,000 to 20,000 jobs depending on the source. Earlier this year, a lawsuit was filed against TransCanada alleging it mislead its investors by inflating job numbers. Even if benefit is given to a higher number of jobs, those jobs would disappear once the pipeline was completed. Only a minimal number of jobs would be permanent. But job creation is not the only factor that has been fudged.
Big oil and its toadies know full well the oil will be transported to the oil refineries of the Gulf Coast with nary a stop in between. Once snuggled in the bowels of the Texas refineries, the tar sands will gobble up huge amounts of energy to turn the sticky mess into oil to be shipped overseas via a widened, improved Panama Canal.
The United States has already made some headway in increasing production of oil in the field. And, it should be making progress given it leases roughly 41,000,000 onshore acres and 38,000,000 offshore acres with only 18,500,000 acres total currently producing. But big oil is still crying foul that it has been thwarted in its efforts to bully its way into the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and additional offshore sites.
With access to ANWR pretty much a dead issue – at least for now – the Republican “Friends of Oil” swear that the tar sands oil is needed to ease dependence on foreign oil. But, if that were the case, why not refine the oil in the Midwest? The Midwest is home to about 20 oil refineries capable of processing oil and tar sands oil at that.
But the 20 odd oil refineries sprinkled throughout the Midwest pale in comparison to the 28 in Texas alone. Once transported to Texas, the oil will be refined at a great environmental cost - two tons of tar sands are required to obtain one barrel of oil using a much more complicated process than simply pumping oil from the ground. In addition to the enormous amount of tar sands needed, three barrels of water are needed to extract one barrel of oil. Water is minimally used in the typical extraction of oil, thus a significant amount of unrecoverable resources are used to extract tar sands oil.
But the KXL is not the only project on the horizon. It is happening in tandem with another major construction project – one of which most Americans have little awareness. The widening of the Panama Canal has been planned for years and is now coming to fruition. While its planning predated the KXL, the two projects intertwine in that they were to be completed at about the same time – the Panama widening in 2014, and the KXL in 2014. How convenient!
The master plan should be clear. Construct the KXL based on false and fictitious numbers, ship the environmentally harmful tar sands oil straight through the heart of America and over one of the world’s largest and most critical aquifers, refine the tar sands in Texas, and place it on ships headed to a widened Panama Canal throughway to head overseas for sale.
Enormous job creation? Freedom from foreign oil dependence? Not on your life. That is the fallacy of the Keystone XL.