Keystone XL pipeline
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The building of a 1,700-mile pipeline through the heartland of the United States has been at the center of the debate on the economy for many months now. Much has been written by those who both support and oppose its construction. And much has also been written about just how important the pipeline would be to the U.S. economy if it were actually to be built.
With the deadline for the Obama administration’s decision on construction coming up fast (2/21), many have already made up their minds. But have they done so on the basis of accurate figures?
It might be pretty difficult to do so, given that various estimates put the number of jobs created though the construction of the pipeline at anywhere between 20 and 350,000. So where have all these different estimates come from, and which one (if any) is actually accurate?
The first difficulty that arises from trying to find an accurate estimate is that most of the numbers from the upper echelons of the estimates come from the company who are hoping to build the pipeline: TransCanada.
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While citizens across the United States have been demanding President Obama deny the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, Canadians and First Nations folks have been organizing as well.
One question I’ve been asked repeatedly during the Tar Sands organizing is: “If we stop the mining and oil company from building a pipeline from Alberta to Texas, won’t they just a build one from Alberta to the Pacific and ship the oil to China?”
The companies were only too happy to have us buy their logic. But the truth was that our job in the U.S. was to keep the pipeline out of our backyard, and trust that the Canadian movement would do the same. Well, it turns out they have. First Nations folks pledged to block construction with their bodies and widespread public concern has forced the Harper government to review environmental concerns.
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President Obama said he’d make a decision on the Keystone pipeline after the election.
The decision to not decide until later was a victory for environmental activists, as the pipeline would be a serious threat to the ecosystems it passes through should it spring a leak (TransCanada has already had 12 oil spills in 2011 alone. That’s 12 too many, by the way.)