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People, Politics, and the Pipeline

J. Mijin Cha

This week, Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute -- the largest oil and gas industry trade group -- claimed that not approving the Keystone XL pipeline would be against the wishes of the “vast majority” of Americans. Gerard went on to threaten President Obama with “serious political consequences” if the pipeline was not approved and claimed the issue was about jobs and national security. ”

Contrary to having support of the “vast majority” of Americans, widespread opposition to the pipeline resulted in moving from what seemed to be an inevitable approval to a delay on the decision until 2013. And, it was not the demand of a vast majority of Americans that brings the pipeline back into play. It was the House Republicans demanding a decision on the pipeline in exchange for extending the payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits -- policies which overwhelming benefit lower and middle class Americans.

In fact, support for the pipeline is slipping and will likely continue to slip as more evidence emerges showing how bad the Keystone XL pipeline will be for workers and for the environment. We’ve written about the dangers of the pipeline and now, a former engineer and inspector for TransCanada, the company behind the pipeline, exposes how TransCanada continually chose profit over safety and the cover-up of the environmental damage caused by the first Keystone XL pipeline, which included fourteen spills and siting facilities on wetlands.

And, if Gerard was really concerned about jobs and national security, he would be throwing his support behind renewable energy development. As we’ve pointed out, the job creation projections from Keystone are a myth. The job creation numbers for renewable energy, however, are not only real but are increasing. As for national security, there is no guarantee that the oil refined from the pipeline would stay in the U.S., particularly since it is being sold as an “export” pipeline, which would mean no reduction in our dependence on foreign oil. Investing in renewables and, more importantly energy conservation, are the best way to keep our energy supply secure.

Perhaps recognizing the slipping support for Keystone, the American Petroleum Institute launched a campaign called “Vote4Energy,” to promote the pipeline and fossil fuel use in general. Ironically, the website breaks from the post-truth movement with a title page that claims, “polluting the future.” Maybe the truth was just too clear for them to try to hide?