Has President Obama read his own State Department’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS)?
From his interview over the weekend in the New York Times it doesn’t look like it. If he had he would know that his State Department found – after almost five years of review and numerous studies – that Keystone XL would be a big job creator (supporting 42,100 jobs); that gas prices would not increase due to the pipeline (in fact because of more supply they will likely decrease); and that greenhouse gas emissions will not significantly increase with Keystone XL.
State Department Says Keystone XL Will Support 42,100 New Jobs
In the New York Times interview, President Obama repeated opponents’ absurd claims that Keystone XL would only create 2,000 jobs during construction, calling it a “blip relative to the need.”
Well, President Obama is already wrong on that point: the southern leg of Keystone XL which only runs from Cushing, Oklahoma to the Gulf has already created 4,000 jobs, as the AP reported earlier this year. So if just the southern leg, only a small portion of Keystone XL, has managed to create 4,000 direct new jobs, the longest portion which stretches hundreds of miles from Canada to Cushing will only create 2,000? This simply doesn’t make sense.
So how many jobs will it actually create? As the State Department put it:
“Including direct, indirect, and induced effects, the proposed Project would potentially support approximately 42,100 average annual jobs across the United States over a 1-to 2-year construction period.” (ES-13)
Um…that’s a little more than a blip. President Obama also could have consulted the many labor union members across the country who need those jobs and have held rallies in support of Keystone XL across the nation. As our May 8th OSFC video and blog post shows, labor doesn’t see those jobs as a blip – and the argument about temporary jobs is moot. As Sean McGarvey President of the Building and Construction Trades Department at AFL-CIO said at a rally just down from the White House, “The interstate highway system was a temporary job; Mount Rushmore was a temporary job. If they knew anything about the construction industry they’d understand that we work ourselves out of jobs and we go from job to job to job.”
Yes, there would be some temporary jobs, but there will be more permanent ones, too. The Canadian Energy Research Institute (CERI) predicts that Keystone XL will create 117,000 new U.S. jobs over the next 15 years due to oil sands development linked to the project. But this is not surprising considering that for every two jobs created in Canada for oil sands development, approximately one is created in the United States. How can we have extensive North American resources being transported, developed and refined without creating thousands of jobs, not only in the industries directly related, but in the industries that feed, clothe and support all these new workers and a growing economy?
State Department Report Shows Gas Price and Export Claims Are False
Perhaps President Obama was recently in touch with some of his top donors because he repeated verbatim billionaire Keystone XL opponent Tom Steyer’s claim that gas prices would increase because of Keystone XL.
Opponents have been trying this argument for years but it’s never been a winning one because they’re asking us to believe that continuing to rely on unstable regions of the world is the answer to high gas prices. As we addressed in a post on July 16 the State Department has already found this claim by opponents to be bogus. From our post:
As page 65 of the ‘market analysis’ section of the draft State Department Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) clearly states:
“Midwest product prices are derived from Gulf Coast prices, both of which are in turn driven by international (rather than U.S. inland) crude oil prices. Enabling (additional volumes of) WCSB crudes to flow to the Gulf Coast would not change this dynamic.”
Opponents of Keystone XL have also repeatedly claimed that oil sands coming into Gulf Coast refineries would simply be exported. First of all, for the United States to export crude a license from the Department of Commerce is required. Second, the State Department has found Steyer’s claim to be false. From page 16 of the ‘market analysis’ of SDEIS:
“In addition to the concerns expressed about exports of refined products, there is a question of whether the oil sands/Western Canadian Select (WCS) crude oil transported into Gulf Coast markets via the proposed Project may be simply “passed through” the market and loaded onto vessels for ultimate sale in markets such as Asia or Europe. Under the current market outlooks, such an option is unlikely to be economically justified primarily due to transportation costs. Once the WCSB crude oil arrives at the Gulf Coast, the refiners there have a significant competitive advantage in processing it compared to foreign refiners because the foreign refiners would have to incur additional transportation charges to have the crude oil delivered from the Gulf Coast to their location.”
Also let’s not forget that in his speech supporting the southern leg of Keystone XL in 2012 in Cushing, Oklahoma, President Obama clearly stated:
The price of oil will still be set by the global market. And that means every time there’s tensions that rise in the Middle East — which is what’s happening right now — so will the price of gas. The main reason the gas prices are high right now is because people are worried about what’s happening with Iran. It doesn’t have to do with domestic oil production. It has to do with the oil markets looking and saying, you know what, if something happens there could be trouble and so we’re going to price oil higher just in case.
Yet they are arguing for fewer North American resources because of gas prices?
State Department Finds that Keystone XL Will Not Have a Significant Impact on Climate
We’ve already covered at length the many times that the State Department has found that Keystone XL will not significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions because Canada will still develop its oil sands “with or without the project…approval or denial of the proposed project is unlikely to have a substantial impact on the rate of development in the oil sands, or on the amount of heavy crude oil refined in the Gulf Coast area.”
And if that’s not enough, there are quite a few more experts and scientists that agree (for a long list click here).
The President should listen to those who have studied the project for nearly five years rather than activists whose mission is to end oil production
As the Guardian reported today, “Obama has been under growing pressure from campaigners, party donors, and Democrats in Congress to reject the pipeline […] He adopted some of their arguments in his comments on Saturday.”
But those who have examined the issue closely over the past four and a half years strongly support the project, including an overwhelming majority in Congress, editorial boards across the country, and the American public. Recent polls show that Keystone XL is not a partisan issue either. Democratic support is at 56%, and former President Bill Clinton, former Obama National Security advisor Jim Jones, and a long list of Democratic Senators and Representatives have come out in strong support of Keystone XL.
If President Obama truly believes that “every time there’s tensions that rise in the Middle East…so will the price of gas” as he said in Cushing, then he should approve Keystone XL; if President Obama truly believes, as he said in Cushing, that “we don’t have enough pipeline capacity to transport all of [our oil] to where it needs to go — both to refineries, and then, eventually, all across the country and around the world” then he should approve Keystone XL; if President Obama is truly serious about his claim in Cushing that “As long as I’m President, we’re going to keep on encouraging oil development and infrastructure and we’re going to do it in a way that protects the health and safety of the American people” then he should approve Keystone XL.
President Obama should rely on the data from the experts at the State Department who have been studying this project for nearly five years instead of opponents whose goal in life is to shut down the energy development that creates thousands of jobs, fuels our economy, and keeps gas prices low.