Article by Kyle Paradise
On January 18th, President Barack Obama denied TransCanada (TRP) a permit allowing them to construct a pipeline, known as the Keystone XL. According to Bloomberg, TransCanada claims that the 1,661-mile project would “carry 700,000 barrels of crude a day from Alberta’s oil sands to refineries on the U.S. Gulf of Mexico coast, crossing six states and creating an estimated 20,000 jobs.” His decision on the project was hailed as a victory for the environmental community but was derided by Republicans, as well as the labor industry.
In an election year, where job creation has become a top issue, Obama’s decision has him taking fire. According to the “Washington Post,” Mitt Romney, the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, said the Keystone decision “shows a president who once again has put politics ahead of sound policy.” However, the actual benefits of such a pipeline are also under question.
Whereas the U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimated about 250,000 jobs would be created during the Keystone’s construction, the State Department’s report said the total number of jobs created would only be about 5000-6000, lasting only two years. An independent study by Cornell University has it listed as even less, only about 2500-4650, most of which are temporary construction jobs, according to CNBC.
Aside from the job issue, there are also environmental concerns. The proposed Keystone XL route runs right through the Ogallala Aquifer, a huge underground water reservoir that irrigates the country’s heartland, provides drinking water for 87% of the surrounding populace and is home to a diverse range of wildlife.
Congress had put a deadline of Feb. 21 on the official ruling of the Keystone XL in a tax code that was passed late last year. Mr. Obama’s ruling was said to have been a reaction to this. “This announcement is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline, but the arbitrary nature of a deadline that prevented the State Department from gathering the information necessary to approve the project and protect the American people,” the president said in a statement.
After his ruling, a nonpartisan group, the Congressional Research Service (CRS), conducted a study into Congress’ power to overturn the executive order. “If Congress chose to assert its authority in the area of border-crossing facilities, this would likely be considered within its constitutionally enumerated authority to regulate foreign commerce,” the study said. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper told President Obama he was “profoundly disappointed” with the decision. HACC student, and member of the Environmental Science club, Hannah Lerew supports the decision. “I agree that making jobs is important,” she said, “but we only get one environment and it’s important to protect it. Environmental awareness is increasing so as we get better and better, more jobs will open that way. As far as weighing it against any economic reasons, it seems a little silly. I personally agree with Obama, at least to take more time to consider it.” When asked for his thoughts about the pipeline project, Geremea Fioradanti, a biology instructor here at HACC said, “It’s not a great idea because it’s further reliance on fossil fuels. It would create some jobs and with our perceived economic conditions, jobs are very important. You’re seeing forces that understand that we need to progress economically, and they are butting up against conservationists. My side is that we need to get ourselves off of fossil fuels as soon as possible. When you do that you can take all the subsidies you put into fossil fuel use and you can apply them to alternative energy sources and race to a future that is more sustainable.”