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No KXL; a Non-Environmental Point of View

Mark Piazzalunga

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All over the world people are protesting against what I call the stupidest project of the moment: Keystone XL. We shouldn’t use oil so why should people just accept the damages this pipeline will bring? “The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere averaged more than 400 parts per million throughout April, the first time the planet’s monthly average has surpassed that threshold.” When I read this on Bloomberg I immediately thought to oil and then Keystone. It’s unbelievable the disrespect of some governments to the CO2 limits. While UN are shouting CO2 emissions must immediately stop some governments think to pipelines and coal plans.

But apparently some people are bored in front of an environmental accusation so I will analyze this pipeline from a non-environmental point of view.

First point: jobs. TransCanada (the company that should build the pipeline) CEO says the project will put 20,000 U.S. workers to work investing $7 billion in the economy. Although Cornell ILR Global Labor Institute found that Keystone XL construction would result in 2,500 to 4,650 temporary construction jobs. President Obama also stated "The most realistic estimates are this might create maybe 2,000 jobs during the construction of the pipeline, which might take a year or two, and then after that we're talking about somewhere between 50 and 100 jobs in an economy of 150 million working people." We have to consider also the loss of jobs. After completion of the Keystone XL line, oil pipelines to the U.S. may run nearly half-empty, so there won’t be new jobs, just a swing from one line to the other.

Second point: cost. Canadian government spent $9 million by May, 2012 and $16.5 million by May, 2013 to promote Keystone XL. To promote it. Not to build it. And I really think that’s all for this point. One more thing: the original Keystone Pipeline cost $5.2 billion but with the expansion slated to cost approximately $7 billion.

Third point: local population. Many Native Americans and Indigenous Canadians are opposed to the Keystone XL project for various reasons, including possible damage to sacred sites, pollution, and water contamination, which could lead to health risks among their communities. Who has the authority to destroy the land of a people?

Fourth point: any profit? No. In fact with Keystone gas prices won’t be cheaper. From a Cornell University study: KXL will divert Tar Sands oil now supplying Midwest refineries, so it can be sold at higher prices to the Gulf Coast and export markets. As a result, consumers in the Midwest could be paying 10 to 20 cents more per gallon for gasoline and diesel fuel. These additional costs (estimated to total $2–4 billion) will suppress other spending and will therefore cost jobs.

If this isn’t enough please go to see the environmental consequences. You can find them everywhere. The last controversy is about the major safety than trains transporting oil. I will repeat again: the cleverest thing to do is stop using oil. I’m sure that one day we’ll stop fighting on how to transport oil and dedicate our energy to new greener sources.


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