The Keystone XL pipeline extension is a 1,664-mile bad idea that would carry almost 1 million barrels of crude oil a day from Canada’s oil sands to Texas. Putting environmental issues aside, the possibility of the Keystone XL pipeline fuels a heated debate. Proponents of the pipeline, namely oil companies, the Canadian government, and many Republicans, argue that the Keystone XL pipeline would generate thousands of jobs. Whereas opponents, namely environmentalists and landowners along the route, argue that the Keystone XL pipeline will make it harder for the U.S. to shift away from fossil fuels in addition to the environmental harm from such a monumental project.
As Paul Krugman explains in an op-ed for The New York Times, the Keystone XL pipeline “is a sick joke coming from people who have done all they can to destroy American jobs.” The Keystone XL pipeline is the first move from the new Republican Senate. Republican support should come as no surprise considering the oil and gas industry gave 87% of its 2014 campaign contributions to the G.O.P. Consider the Keystone XL pipeline support a thank you for the oil and gas industry’s generous contributions. In order to successfully gain support, Republicans decisively choose their slogan of increasing jobs. While there is some truth behind this allegation, the number of jobs mobilized is only for a temporary period. Once the pipeline construction is complete, the number of remaining jobs would be less than one hundred. In addition, the jobs gained from the pipeline would still only be less than 5% of the jobs that were lost from the sequestration. The same amount of government spending could be used for roads, bridges, and schools – not only a more stable form of employment, but less controversial as well.
Employment issues aside, environmental issues continue to fuel the debate. A proponent of a pipeline, Senator Tim Kaine agrees that the Keystone XL pipeline project cannot move forward. Kaine’s argument stems from the difference between tar sands and conventional petroleum. Tar sands, which would be the main oil source for the pipeline, is not only dirtier than conventional petroleum, but also the process of extracting the oil grows more difficult. There is an abundance of safer and cleaner alternatives that resorting to tar sands as a fuel source is not necessary and far from ideal. As NASA climate scientist James E. Hansen said, “if all the oil was extracted from the oil sands it would be ‘game over’ when it came to effort to stabilize the climate.”