The announcement of President Obama’s decision to defer ruling on the Keystone XL pipeline until after the 2012 election brought jubilation to many MPIRG members this week who are working on campaigns to champion green energy. The proposed pipeline would connect the ecologically-disastrous extraction of so-called tar sands petroleum in Alberta, Canada to refineries along the Gulf coast of Texas, where this crude petroleum would be exported outside of the U.S. and sold in the international market. This proposal has met with both ardent support from entities like the Chamber of Commerce and widespread eclectic opposition ranging from MPIRG and other environmental activists, the New York Times, NASA climate scientists like Dr. James Hansen, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. MPIRG chapters across the state are working on making the public more aware of the consequences that this proposed pipeline will undoubtedly bring.
The decision to construct a pipeline through the United States is controversial because representatives from the TransCanada have claimed that the proposed pipeline will inject 7 billion dollars into the U.S. economy, creating 20,000 permanent jobs and over 120,000 related jobs. However, these numbers are hotly disputed, with the Cornell Global Labor Institute’s recent study on the anticipated benefits of the Keystone XL pipeline providing a very different picture of what impact this pipeline will have for the U.S. The study finds that significantly less than 7 billion dollars will actually be generated and only 2,500 to 4,560 jobs will be created and that the number of related jobs will actually fall closer to 96,000 jobs, the vast majority of which would be created by this project will be non-local and temporary jobs. The study is also quick to report that due to rising energy costs in the Midwest, the Keystone XL pipeline will actually cause a slight dip in employment through those rising costs on consumers and employers. With TransCanada and other groups misleading the American public, it’s clear when unbiased facts come to light that this proposal will in actuality be a detriment to our economy, not to mention a disaster for the environment.
The current Keystone pipeline that runs through Alberta Canada supplies Minnesota with 80% of our energy consumption, as evidenced in the documentary H2Oil by Marty Cobenais. This new XL project is an unwelcome development in Minnesota because we have such readily available alternatives to fossil fuel energy sources that we should be developing. Minnesota boasts a tremendous potential for wind and solar power that is not being utilized. Yet, our tax dollars are sent to Canada to pay for oil developed through extraction of tar sands oil. Rather than exporting our money and jobs to another country, Minnesota should be doing more to grow its renewable energy economy; these green energy jobs cannot be outsourced to another country and it would put people to work in Minnesota’s blooming solar industry. To that end, MPIRG is devoted to lobbying our state congress to encourage the production of small-scale solar energy projects and guarantee a competitive price for solar power on the energy grid by supporting the Solar Skies Initiative introduced by Senator Dibble and Representative Knuth. With MPIRG lobbying for this bill when our state Congress assembles this January, the future of our state’s solar industry couldn't be brighter.
Written by Joe Hartmann
University of Minnesota –Morris MPIRG