The White House recently announced that President Obama is planning to veto a bill that would authorize the construction of the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline. Understandably, this has reignited the fierce debates, and this matter will be the first high-profile confrontation between the President and the country’s new, Republican-dominated Congress.
With the nation’s eye on this issue, it seems like a fitting time to revisit the fundamental ideas that support both sides. Grossly simplified, it boils down to generating more jobs versus protecting the environment. How valid are these points?
An Environmental Disaster Waiting to Happen?
Detractors claim that the pipeline poses an enormous risk to the environment. But on close inspection, it seems like most of these points are hysterically exaggerated. Oil sands production is far from the world’s worst fossil fuel, and its GHG emissions pale in comparison to the U.S. coal industry. Putting things into perspective, the drawbacks don’t even compare to the benefits.
What about those making an outcry, claiming that corrosion or cracks in the pipeline will devastate the local areas? It’s an overblown issue when you understand how many safeguards there are against it, and that TransCanada even voluntarily added 59 additional safety measures.Throughout America, there are also companies that can inspect pipelines to prevent or fix such problems. With these factors, it is highly unlikely that the Keystone XL Pipeline will ever break down to such an extent.
Finally, it’s indisputable that transporting the oil over pipeline is far safer and less environmentally taxing than through conventional options. Since it will deliver 830,000 barrels of oil per day at peak capacity, this fact isn’t anything to sneeze at.
Or a Valuable Source of Energy and Employment?
Now, let’s look at the benefits of the pipeline. First is the energy independence, as we will finally be able to source more of our oil from Canada. As several Senate Democrats said in their letter to the President, Keystone XL Pipeline will greatly reduce our reliance on unstable and unfriendly countries like Venezuela. It puts in a much stronger position and improves our relationship with Canada.
If that’s not enough, the economic benefits are staggering. This project will end up supporting over 42,000 direct and indirect jobs in North America, across many different industries. Few projects can make this much of a difference, leave alone one that boosts one of our most vital industries.
While the pipeline does have its disadvantages, the benefits it provides far outweigh these. It would be wise for the White House to reconsider its position, not just to foster a spirit of cooperation with Capitol Hill, but for the good of the nation as well.