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Pipeline Would Hurt U.S. Long-Term

By       Message John Olen     Permalink
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Opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline have been protesting outside the White House, with many aiming to be arrested. Some proponents of the pipeline say it would be beneficial to an ailing economy, but in reality the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline would only mean the perpetuation of the idea that the solution to our oil problem is more oil.

The pipeline, if approved, would carry oil from tar sands in Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Proponents of the pipeline say that it will create jobs and reduce our dependence on Middle Eastern oil. Opponents of the pipeline say that it creates a hazard to the U.S. given the possibility of spills and encourages the use of an extremely dirty fuel source.

Protestors Outside the White House
(Image by tarsandaction)
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The best estimates for the number of jobs created by the pipeline are in the 100,000 jobs range. This is certainly no small number of jobs, but it is far from a solution to our economic problems. The pipeline would also bring in 510,000 new barrels of oil per day, but this increase would represent only about 2.5 percent of average daily oil usage in the U.S., making it too small of an amount to make a noticeable difference in gas prices

The argument that the pipeline would decrease our dependence on foreign oil from more volatile regions largely falls flat. If the new oil supply were enough to have a measurable impact on U.S. supply, it would drive prices down and consumption would increase, driving demand for more foreign oil. As it is, it looks like the pipeline will provide such a small amount of oil (in relative terms) that we will continue to import huge amounts of oil, increasing our trade deficit.

The real problem with approval of the pipeline is that more infrastructure development for oil is the wrong way to think about energy independence for the United States, and the wrong way to think about jobs in the United States. There is a finite amount of oil, it is going to get increasingly expensive, and the United States doesn't have much of it. Instead of worrying about how to marginally increase our supply from safe sources, we should be focusing on creating true energy independence through green energy initiatives. If the Obama administration approves the extension of the pipeline, it will be a step backwards in promoting new sources of energy, making it both directly and indirectly harmful to our economy and our environment.

Jobs aren't a good excuse for completing the pipeline because, in the long run, dependence on oil costs the U.S. jobs. Oil accounts for half our trade deficit, and money leaving our country means jobs leaving our country. Despite the overwhelming need for jobs, gaining 100,000 jobs to perpetuate a system that is harmful to the U.S. economy hardly seems worth it.


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