OpEd

Story published: 03-19-2013 • Print ArticleE-mail Story to a Friend

Roe’s ‘no brainer’ needs investigating

By Frances Lamberts

The latest newsletter by U.S. Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) announces that the “Keystone Pipeline Should Be a No-Brainer.”

I fully agree, except in the opposite direction from the Congressman’s call.

There are important reasons why a Canadian oil company’s plans to lay 1,700 miles of pipe across U.S. farmlands and aquifers, for export of tar sands from the Gulf coast, should be rejected.

Roe cites job creation — 15,000 good-paying jobs — among his reason for supporting the pipeline.

True, he no longer gives earlier oil-firm estimates of “more than 100,000 jobs,” as Sen. Lamar Alexander did in a December 2011 newsletter.

The highly inflated figures were quickly debunked. A Washington Post fact check explained that the actual number of people employed by the pipeline would be much closer to 10,000, with most disappearing upon its completion.

Most jobs wouldn’t even be for locals. Only 10-15 percent of them, it quoted the State Department in 2011, “can be filled with workers from communities in the pipeline’s path.”

Nor would most of the pipe, some 150,000 pieces, be manufactured in the U.S. but “in Canada, Italy, and India.”

A study by Cornell University’s Global Labor Institute found that, not only were the job claims by the oil company unsubstantiated but “the pipeline could actually kill more jobs than it creates.”

The State Department’s current estimate sets permanent jobs, in inspection and maintenance after the construction period of one to two years, at 35.

Roe’s other arguments for the Keystone pipeline are equally unconvincing, if not misleading.

He states that, since former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “deemed the project to to be in national interest” [sic], the President should already have approved it.

Yet the revelation of inappropriate involvement in public hearings and the environmental assessment required under the law by a lobbyist for the oil firm involved, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s appraisal of dangers from this pipeline to U.S. land and waters had made approval delay and further review necessary and fitting.

The newsletter provides no support for the assertion that this pipeline would lower gas prices in the U.S. and “help ease pain at the pump.”

The evidence, in fact, contradicts it.

Despite record levels of oil and gas produced here in recent years, the price at the pump remains as high, and fluctuates due to international control of the oil market, as it did during most of the previous decade.

The U.S. Energy Department’s assessment that the pipeline would little affect U.S. oil consumption or price is plainly underscored by the fact that the Alaska tar sands oil which it would transport to the Gulf is slated for export on the open world market, primarily to Asian countries.

What is left unsaid by Roe is highly revealing. The pipeline is opposed by millions of Americans, especially its youth, because of the “Game Over” consequences for climate stabilization it would unleash. This makes its denial, not its approval, a “No-Brainer” indeed.