Keystone XL Pipeline – An exercise in stupidity

This is an article about a very unimportant piece of legislation. It is about the Keystone XL pipeline. You would think that this was the most important of all time. However, in the large scheme of things, it is exceedingly minor.

The Keystone XL pipeline has once again become an important topic because the Republican party has taken over the Senate. The Keystone XL pipeline was supposed to take dirty tar sands oil from Canada and then send it through pipelines to Texas to be refined. When this first became an issue, it was in 2010, when jobs were desperately needed, oil prices were high, and there was the belief that more oil was needed. (The oil companies didn’t say that it would take a few years before any significant amount of oil would be produced). But the Keystone XL pipeline didn’t get passed and time has passed. It is now 2014 and oil prices are low, and the United States is now the largest producer of oil and gas. In regards to jobs, it has been shown that a new Walmart located in Austin Texas would produce more jobs than the XL pipeline. In fact, only 35 permanent jobs would be created.

In addition, it never made any sense to send the oil all the way to Texas as the United States does not use this type of oil anyway. This oil is strictly for exportation. It would make more sense for the tar sands oil to be sent to British Columbia to be refined and then shipped to China. However, Canada has its share of environmentalists who have blocked this proposal, therefore, the alternative was to bring it to Texas and have the oil refined quietly under the noses of American environmentalists. And this would’ve happened had it not been for one small snag, the oil companies needed permission to cross the international border between Canada and the US from the federal government. And the federal government denied this request.

On the opposite side, the environmentalists have also overblown the consequences of permitting the Keystone XL pipeline to come to fruition. The tar sands oil from Canada is not worse than the coal that we are already burning. Plus, the United States is already crisscrossed by miles and miles of underground oil pipelines. And, sure, some of these pipelines do burst and cause some major environmental damage like the Kalamazoo River. However these leaks are infrequent and not catastrophic.

Regarding the environmental impact of burning tar sands oil, as I mentioned earlier, this type of oil is not used in the United States, it is usually sent overseas to places like China, who then burn the oil. So, the United States is not directly impacted by the burning of the tar sands oil. However a case can be made that all pollution from China does affect the Earth and the United States.

So why is there so much attention and fighting about this very stupid battle? For the oil companies, it is a little bit about the money, but it is more about the power. It is more about winning and not being stopped than anything else. It is another way of saying that it’s all about ego. For the environmentalists it is about making a statement. It is also about hindering one of its greatest enemy any cost.

In conclusion, the whole the Keystone XL pipeline issue is a very minor and pointless battle. However, this has become so important because of personal egos or megalomania. To me, the simplest solution would be that the Democrats give up the Keystone XL pipeline in exchange for the comprehensive immigration bill in its entirety – which everybody really wants passed anyway.

(Addendum 111/13/14: With a tremendous agreement between China and America to decrease greenhouse gases, the Keystone XL Pipeline seems even less important on the “against” side. But on the “pro” side, the Keystone XL pipeline is even less important – the cost of a barrel of oil is down to $74 per barrel, the lowest price in recent memory. Also, there have been several different owners in charge of constructing the pipeline which is quite expensive and with the price of oil being so low, they might not even want to build it. Plus, with the new agreement between China and America, it is quite possible that China might shy away from using this dirty tar sands oil.)

(This has nothing to do with my blog agenda, but I wanted to try out the Dragon program and its microphone – its pretty neat).


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