Groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable say they speak for the country’s business interests.
When it comes to the Keystone XL pipeline, they most definitely do not.
In his “State of American Business speech,” U.S. Chamber president Tom Donohue once again trotted out his fantasy claims about the importance to our economy of this foreign pipeline scheme.
Mr. Donohue painted the pipeline as a savior for America’s economy, saying it would put “20,000 Americans to work right away and up to 250,000 over the life of the project.” Business Roundtable president John Engler is making similarly false claims.
ButTransCanada, the company that wants to build the export line, acknowledges in a CNN interview here it will only create a few hundred permanent jobs in the United States. The State Department’s analysis (see the department’s EIS, p. 3.10-80 here) shows that only 20 -- that’s right, 20 -- full-time U.S. jobs will be created after construction is finished.
Another piece of fantasy that Mr. Donahue advances is that the Keystone Pipeline will provide our country with more energy security, and that we’ll have access to oil from our friendly neighbor to the north.
The truth about this project is that a Canadian company wants to run this pipeline through the heartland of the United States for the purpose of transporting the toxic sludge known as tar sands bitumen to Gulf of Mexico refineries. From there, the majority of this product is destined for the global oil market, where we’ll have no more access to it than we do to oil pumped in the Middle East.
And the cherry on top of this proposition is that for very few jobs and no increased access to oil, we get to assume the liability of this project and its negative impact on our land, water, and atmosphere.
What a deal.
There are other big risks as well. Remaining dependent on oil -- and yes, in this case it is foreign oil -- keeps our economy hostage to other countries. Remember, most of the oil that runs through this pipeline will end up on the world market, where it is just as likely to end up in China as it will in Cleveland. It won’t reduce our gas prices here one bit.
And then there are the lost opportunity costs. As long as we keep supporting ways to prolong our dependence on oil, the farther we fall behind on innovation of new energy sources and on building a more sustainable economy based on clean, renewable energy.
Instead of putting our support behind a Canadian company that just wants the right of way to move its product down through the heart of our country, we should be putting more support behind the innovative U.S. companies that are trying to develop clean, domestic renewable energy that we can harness right here in the United States.
You won’t hear this from the oil lobby, but the renewable energy industry is where the real jobs are. It is the brightest spot in our economy. The number of jobs in the solar industry alone doubled last year and are expected to grow by another 26 percent in the current year. Try to find another industry growing at that rate.
Contrast that with the oil and gas industry. Despite raking in $546 billion in profits in the past five years, the oil and gas industry laid off more than 11,000 American workers -- even while simultaneously charging record prices at the pump.
It’s time to move forward toward real energy security and a cleaner, renewable energy economy in the United States that will foster real American innovation and create real American jobs.
Keystone XL is against the best interest of our country.