By Sabina Kahn
by Think Progress
If you're concerned with air quality, low fuel prices, preserving natural resources, catastrophic climate change, encouraging renewable energy development, or the abuse of corporate power, then you may well be wondering why President Obama is poised to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. If you are not concerned, you should be. Let's itemize a few reasons to be alarmed every time you hear your government revisiting the Keystone XL Pipeline proposal:
- Spokesman, Terry Cunha has admitted that the Midwest is oversupplied with Canadian oil, which has kept crude prices low. An increase of $3/barrel on Canadian heavy crude oil is expected in the Midwest once the pipeline is approved, resulting in higher fuel prices. TransCanada will boost its earnings by 1 billion dollars annually with the completion of Keystone XL.
- Using the proposed detection system, pipeline spills will not be caught until they reach an alarming rate of 12,000 barrels/day. Leaks happen, as evidenced by a massive toxic waste spill from an oil project site in Alberta covered more than 1,000 acres in early June.
- Alberta's Energy Resources Conservation Board found TransCanada failed to clean up the "vast and expanding" toxic waste ponds leftover from tar sands mining, which kill about 7,000 ducks and geese every year. Keystone's waste ponds would be on US soil.
- Oil from tar sands is 15 to 20 percent dirtier than conventional petroleum, and the process of extracting and refining it is more difficult and resource-intensive.
- British Columbia recently rejected a proposed tar sand pipeline through their own pristine territory by citing safety concerns.
In addition to the negative effects which accompany the Keystone XL proposal, there have been many positive developments in other fields which raise even more questions as to why anyone would support the project. Solar panel prices are down 80% since 2008. Wind turbine prices are down 29% since 2008. Electric vehicle batteries have dropped 37% in the last 2 years. Electric vehicles, without subsidies, are now expected to be cost competitive to fuel vehicles by 2018. The US has been a leader in renewable energy and the TransCanada pipeline would represent a giant step backwards.
Since 2005, Americans are driving less each year and are driving more fuel-efficient vehicles. Even in the absence of a comprehensive energy policy, we're becoming less dependent on fossil fuels. If we weigh all all the risks, and account for our promising renewable energy sector and lower demand on fossil fuels, we are led to to an obvious conclusion: The 35 permanent jobs that would be created by approving the Keystone XL line are not near enough justification for our support.
There are numerous significant reasons not to go forward with this project, so why it is still being considered? Large transnational corporations have far too much influence in our political system and use their clout to induce elected officials to ignore the better interests of their constituents and the communities in which they live.
It's not too late to add your voice to the growing chorus of groups who are actively working to ensure our country continues to pursue wise energy policies. But, the most significant action you can take to stop abuses of corporate power is to join the Move To Amend Coalition, which is working to abolish the Supreme Court created doctrines that artificial entities, like corporations, are people entitled to inherent rights under our Constitution and that money is protected political speech. Until we pass the We the People Amendment, corporations will continue to run roughshod over our political system, our communities, and our environment.
Sabina Khan, a Pakistan native has a master's degree in Conflict Resolution from the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California. She is a regular Op-ed contributor to Express Tribune newspaper in Pakistan, an affiliate of the International Herald Tribune. Sabina served as a Move to Amend intern in the Spring 2013 rotation.