Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Just the facts, please

Because I'm tired of reading everyone argue on Facebook about things that they don't know about, I decided to start posting some facts that you might want to know before you get into arguments with very little editorializing from me. This first edition is about the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Keystone edition

Canada provides us with more than a third of our oil:  According to the U.S. Energy Information Association, we imported 101 million barrels of oil from Canada in May of 2014.  We receive more oil from Canada, currently, than any other country in the world.  In fact, all of the OPEC countries barely provide us with more barrels than Canada does by itself.  The OPEC countries provided us with 102 million barrels in May of 2014.  True fact, we get more oil from Canada than we do from the entire Persian Gulf (53 million).  We get nearly three times as many barrels of oil from Canada as we do Saudi Arabia (38 million, although Canada typically only gives us twice as much as we get from Saudi Arabia).  Guess what? 

There’s room for more: According to a study written by EnSys Energy & systems Inc. for the U.S. State Department, the current pipelines in existence from Canada to the United States have the capacity to bring in more than 1 million barrels per day.  The Keystone XL Pipeline is projected to bring in 830,000 barrels of oil per day. 

But the jobz1!: The U.S. State Department says that 3,900 would be employed directly in building the pipeline if it lasts one year and 1,950 if the construction lasts two ears.  TransCanada (who is proposing the pipeline) says that 9,000 construction jobs would be directly. With any economic analysis for jobs, there are indirect jobs.  The U.S. State Department says that there will be 42,100 jobs indirectly created.   Here’s TransCanada accepting that job number claim.   TransCanada also states that the majority of the jobs created will be during the construction process.   The State Department also notes that there will be about 50 permanent jobs.  Some people are claiming it will create over a 100,000 jobs but that was based off of the original Canada-to-Texas project that has already been completed and was running beginning January of this years.
It’s not safe: An average of 97,376 barrels of petroleum and hazardous liquids are spilled each year in pipeline incidents over the last decade.    Additionally, these spills kill about two lives per year and exceed $250 million in property damage each year. TransCanada has promised to make the pipeline the safest pipeline ever constructed.  So, there’s that.

Gas prices won’t be affected:  Even TransCanada understands this, they do not claim that gas prices will be affected on their website.  The Keystone Pipeline will have little impact on gas prices according to the U.S. State department  and many experts.  Curt Launer, managing director at Deutsche Bank told CNBC that “there’s no real reason to suspect that direct economic benefits shared by Transcanada, Canadian oil producers and U.S. oil refiners would be passed on to individual gasoline consumers.”

But teh oil will go to CHINA!!!!!1!1!!1!1!!!: While Republican lawmakers have been saying that if Keystone XL is not built, the oil from the tar sands of Alberta will go to China or any number of other countries.  Former Massachusetts Congressman (now Senator of Massachusetts) Ed Markey was critical of these statements because the oil going through Keystone XL is going to Port Arthur, Texas, a foreign trade zone that allows tax-free transactions according to Markey.  At a Congressional hearing, Markey asked the president of TransCanada if he would agree to keep the oil and other products that go through Keystone in the United States, the President of TransCanada said no.  Markey proposed an amendment to the Northern Route Approval Act which would keep oil and other refined products going through the Keystone Pipeline in the United States.  To be fair, the Energy Department produced an analysis noting that very little of the oil would be exported.  Republicans in the House of Representatives do not believe it is an issue anyway.  Republican Congressman Ed Whitfield (KY-1) said to Politico, “even if [we do export oil from the pipeline], why is that a problem?  We’ve got a big huge trade deficit and we need to try to reduce that trade deficit and this is one way to do it.” 

Republican John Shimkus of Illinois said, “even if you accept [Markey’s] premise, more oil going on the world market is a good thing.”  It is hard to reconcile the opinions of Republican lawmakers with those who are commenting on the law.  Many conservative pundits have fearmongered about the tar sand oil being exported around the world instead of being in the United States.  It’s important to note that Markey’s amendment failed in committee.  There is not language in the bill that guarantees that the oil transported through Keystone will stay in the United States.  

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