Letter writer sorely mistaken on Keystone XL

The letters section of the Albuquerque Journal is often good for a laugh. One example was a letter on the Keystone XL pipeline (which is waiting approval from the Obama Administration) that ran in last Wednesday’s edition of the paper, John Spar (who happens to be on the Board of Wild Earth Guardians) made numerous claims in opposition, but cites no sources to back up his opinion.

Here are the facts. Though Spar seems to think that Canada’s development of its oil sands hinges on KeystoneXL, Canada has made it clear that it will proceed with or without America’s approval of KeystoneXL. China and other Asian countries want Canada’s oil.
One of America’s greatest competitors for Canada’s energy resources, China has already invested tens of billions of dollars in Canada’s oil sands resources, some of that just recently.

If the KeystoneXL pipeline is not approved, pipelines will be built to Canada’s coast, which brings us to Spar’s environmental claims.

Obama’s own State Department released a statement in August 2011 and earlier this year finding that Keystone wouldn’t have a significant impact on the environment. But if Obama rejects the pipeline, the reality is that it would likely increase greenhouse gas emissions. Transporting the oil by tanker to Asia would almost certainly create more emissions than moving it by pipeline to closer U.S. Markets. A single pipeline transporting 150,000 barrels per day moves a volume equivalent to 750 tanker trucks, or a train of seventy-five rail tank cars. Plus there are more opportunities for tankers to have a mishap as they move about than a single, well-controlled and monitored pipeline.

According to an article in the Washington Post, greenhouse gases from oil sands are exaggerated. Production technologies are also steadily reducing environmental side effects, including greenhouse gas emissions.

As for jobs, TransCanada puts the initial construction and manufacturing jobs at 20,000. A Canadian Energy Research Institute study from June 2011 estimates up to 80,000 jobs by 2019 and 179,000 by 2035. Other estimates run as high as 340,000.
In light of the recent Associated Press story noting that four out of five American adults now struggle with poverty and more than 55 straight months of over 7.5% unemployment, it seems contrary to the nation’s interests to hold up this beneficial project.