Quantcast
Energy

Why 'that Pipeline from Canada' Won’t Deliver the Energy Policy America Needs

NRDC Action Fund

By Liz Barratt-Brown

In last night’s town hall debate, Governor Romney suggested that the President was wrong in rejecting “that pipeline from Canada.” Governor Romney was referring to the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline that benefits the oil industry by linking tar sands to the deepwater ports of the Gulf Coast while putting our climate, fresh water and lands at risk. But it was the governor who was wrong in equating this tar sands pipeline to attaining North American energy independence. 

Putting energy use in the rest of North America aside, the reality is that neither this tar sands pipeline, nor drilling on our public and private lands and off our coasts, is going to deliver the U.S. “energy independence.” As the president rightly said the path to energy independence is found in reducing our demand for fossil fuels. Only by reducing our demand for fossil fuels—using energy efficiently—and growing our use of clean, homegrown energy can we come closer to energy independence. Relying on a dirty tar sands oil pipeline from Canada is nothing but a pipedream. And here’s why:

1) Keystone XL and tar sands oil will not make the U.S. more energy independent:  Governor Romney implied that bringing the tar sands pipeline down from Canada will make us more energy independent. But the reality is that, as long as we are dependent on oil, we will be vulnerable to the price and political volatility of this globally traded commodity. That is why military leaders, like Retired General Steven Anderson, General Petraeus’ right hand in Iraq, have said that this pipeline will do nothing to increase U.S. energy security. Additionally, it will allow, for the first time, large quantities of tar sands oil to reach the global market through the Gulf of Mexico. Once it reaches the Gulf, the oil industry has made its desire clear to export tar sands all over the world, undercutting the argument that this as a new source of oil for the U.S.

2) Keystone XL will not provide the nation-wide jobs essential to a sustained recovery:  Governor Romney referred to “energy independence” as a key piece of his plan for economic recovery. The reality is that for this pipeline project he is using highly inflated job figures. The pipeline company itself has estimated that there would be 6,000 jobs created in building the pipeline and only a few hundred in maintaining it. And even those numbers are overstated. Studies by Cornell University found that there would be 2500-4650 jobs created in construction (many of which have already been created in laying the pipe and other preparations) and that the risks of spills could wipe out many more jobs in agriculture, tourism and other sectors. Orders of magnitude more jobs are being created in clean energy—The Peri Institute at U. Mass estimates 2 million jobs can be created with programs to boost private and public investment in retrofitting buildings, improving energy efficiency, expanding mass transit and freight rail, constructing ‘smart’ electrical grid transmission systems, and investing in wind, solar and next-generation biofuels.

3) Keystone XL will not lower gas prices and may even increase them:  Governor Romney implied that the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would bring our gas prices down. But analysts like Michael Levi of the Council on Foreign Relations has repeatedly stated that the pipeline will do nothing to change the global price of oil or our gas prices. The reality is that the price of oil is set on the global market.  When gas prices spike, Canada does not give the U.S. a break on the price of oil. So relying on a pipeline from Canada to reduce gas prices makes little sense. In fact, leading oil economists predict that the pipeline will actually increase gas prices by diverting oil from the Midwest to the Gulf.  Tar sands oil sells for less than lighter crudes in the Midwest because of the cost of refining it. By moving it to the Gulf,  gas prices will actually increase in the Midwest. And once it gets to an international port in the Gulf, the price will be determined by the highest bidder. In other words, savings in the pockets of Midwesterners today will be profits in the pockets of the oil industry tomorrow.

The president made it clear last night that the issue isn’t about building one more pipeline, saying we’ve built enough pipelines to wrap around the entire earth once. He said the real focus should be on the kind of energy policy makes us more secure and that helps create high paying jobs in the manufacturing sector—referring to the thousands of jobs building wind turbines in Colorado and Iowa. The president underscored that this is an energy future we need to win.

Building “that pipeline from Canada,” as Governor Romney has promised to approve on day one, won’t deliver the 21st century energy policy we need, it will take us dangerously backwards, putting that energy future we need to win at risk.

Visit EcoWatch’s KEYSTONE XL page for more related news on this topic.

 

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
TAFE SA TONSLEY / Flickr

Worldwide Clean Energy Investments Hit $333.5 Billion Last Year

Global investment in renewable energy hit $333.5 billion in 2018, the second-highest on record, according to a new analysis from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

That's a 3 percent jump from 2016 and 7 percent short of the $360 billion record set in 2015.

Keep reading... Show less
Renewable Energy

How Blockchain Could Boost Clean Energy

By Jeremy Deaton

Bitcoin, the much-hyped cryptocurrency, made headlines recently for driving a surge in power use. Around the globe, digital entrepreneurs are 'mining' bitcoins by solving complex math problems, using supercomputers to get the job done. Those supercomputers use a ton of power, which largely comes from coal- and gas-fired power plants spewing gobs of carbon pollution.

But while hackers wreak havoc on the climate, blockchain, the bleeding-edge technology behind bitcoin, could one day help clean up the mess. Climate wonks say blockchain has a role to play in the clean-energy economy, helping homeowners sell electricity, allowing businesses to trade carbon credits, and making it easier for governments to track greenhouse gas emissions.

Keep reading... Show less
Abdallah Issa / Flickr

Post-Fire Landslide Problems Likely to Worsen: What Can Be Done?

By Lee MacDonald

Several weeks after a series of wildfires blackened nearly 500 square miles in Southern California, a large winter storm rolled in from the Pacific. In most places the rainfall was welcomed and did not cause any major flooding from burned or unburned hillslopes.

But in the town of Montecito, a coastal community in Santa Barbara County that lies at the foot of the mountains blackened by the Thomas Fire, a devastating set of sediment-laden flows killed at least 20 people and damaged or destroyed more than 500 homes. In the popular press these flows were termed "mudslides," but with some rocks as large as cars these are more accurately described as hyperconcentrated flows or debris flows, depending on the amount of sediment mixed with the water.

Keep reading... Show less
The most notable observation from the count was DeMartino's sighting of the golden crowned kinglet, but in general volunteers found the same species they normally do. (Photo above is of a golden crowned kinglet, but not the one DeMartino spotted.) Melissa McMasters

Birders Get a First Look at How 2017 California Wildfires Affected Wildlife

By Matt Blois

A neighbor knocked on Rick Burgess's door at about 9:30 p.m. to tell him a fire was coming towards his home in Ventura, California. When he looked outside he saw a column of smoke, and the hills were already starting to turn orange. He loaded up his truck with a collection of native plants he was using to write a countywide plant guide, and barely had enough time to get out.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
A learning garden from Kimbal Musk's nonprofit called Big Green. The Kitchen Community

Elon Musk's Brother Wants to Bring #RealFood to 100,000 Schools Across America

Kimbal Musk's nonprofit organization, The Kitchen Community, is expanding into a new, national nonprofit called Big Green, to build hundreds of outdoor Learning Garden classrooms across America.

Learning Gardens teach children an understanding of food, healthy eating and garden skills through experiential learning and garden-based education that tie into existing school curriculum, such as math, science and literacy.

Keep reading... Show less
Drilling fluids spilled into Ohio wetlands during construction of the Rover Pipeline in April. Sierra Club

Rover Pipeline Spills Another 150,000 Gallons of Drilling Fluid Into Ohio Wetlands

Energy Transfer Partners' troubled $4.2 billion Rover pipeline has spilled nearly 150,000 gallons of drilling fluid into wetlands near the Tuscarawas River in Stark County, Ohio—the same site where it released 2 million gallons in April.

The 713-mile pipeline, which will carry fracked gas across Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and Michigan and Canada, is currently under construction by the same Dallas-based company that built the controversial Dakota Access pipeline.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

Large Dams Fail on Climate Change and Indigenous Rights

Brazil has flooded large swaths of the Amazon for hydro dams, despite opposition from Indigenous Peoples, environmentalists and others. The country gets 70 percent of its electricity from hydropower. Brazil's government had plans to expand development, opening half the Amazon basin to hydro. But a surprising announcement could halt that.

Keep reading... Show less
Jim Henderson / Wikimedia Commons

World's Largest Money Manager: Companies Must Respond to Social and Climate Challenges

The world's largest publicly traded companies must take a more active role in solving social issues or face blowback from investors, the CEO of BlackRock said Tuesday.

"To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society," Laurence Fink wrote in his annual letter to CEOs of companies in which BlackRock invests. BlackRock is the world's largest money manager, with more than $6 trillion in assets.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!