Nel's New Day

January 10, 2015

Power Only GOP Reason for Passing Keystone Pipeline

Filed under: Environment — trp2011 @ 9:33 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

The GOP has started its 2015 war on the president with a House bill to support the Canadian economy. For the 10th time, the Republican House members, with the help of 28 Democrats, has sent a bill to the Senate to build the Keystone XL Pipeline. The non-veto proof vote was 266 to 153. There had been some stalling until the Nebraska Supreme Court determined whether decision for the KXL route through the state is constitutional. Only four of the necessary five votes maintained the unconstitutionality of the decision taking land from the farmers.

President Obama has said that the project takes oil from Canada and ships it across the United States to the Gulf of Mexico so that it can be sent overseas. He’s right: industries benefiting from the KXL under dispute are Canadian companies such as Suncor Energy, Imperial Oil, and Canadian Natural Resources.

Republicans are well-paid to support KXL.  The fossil fuels industry has paid at least $721 million into forward its agenda put a lot of money into forwarding its agenda in the Congress not counting hundreds of millions more through outside groups.

One argument has been lowering gas prices, despite the fact that no one in the U.S. will be getting the oil. During less than a year, oil prices have dropped over 50 percent–before one drop of oil passed through the KXL. The pipeline could actually increase prices because the oil is sent overseas.

Another claim that the pipeline will have no negative impact on the environment is equally false. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) stated that sending the thick, gooey stuff in leaky pipelines is safer than by train or truck. Oil pipelines, however, leak and spill at least an average of 97,376 barrels (4.1 million gallons) of petroleum and related hazardous fluids every year. Federal regulators buried a report that TransCanada was cited “for ‘inadequate’ field inspections and ‘ineffective’ management.” Its pipeline in Canada had a rupture rate five times higher than the national average and was discovered to be 95 percent corroded after it burst in 2009. TransCanada fixed 125 sags and dents in the southern leg of the pipeline within the first ten months.

Supporters use an old report from the U.S. State Department, prepared by people from the oil industry, that claims the pipeline is safe. If it leaks, however, TransCanada is not on the hook for cleanup costs because tar sands oil is not covered by the mandated insurance for pipelines.

The GOP’s primary argument is that the KXL creates jobs. If that were true, they’d try to open one Denny’s restaurant; its jobs would be equal to the 35 permanent jobs of the KXL. The claim of 42,000 temporary jobs is “cooked”: the total is really about 1,950 Full Time Equivalent jobs because the GOP total doubles the number for a person working two years and doesn’t consider part-time jobs. Meanwhile, the GOP ignores the federal highway bill and other infrastructure endeavors that could help people in this country.

Clean energy had at least double the number of temporary KXL jobs in 2013. Wind power needs a 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour federal production tax credit (PTC) to start projects. Every time Congress waffles about the PTC, the industry loses jobs; renewal creates a job spike. In contrast, fossil fuel companies automatically get billions of dollars in subsidies and federal tax breaks every year. Part of the millions that these companies spend is devoted to killing off clean energy.

A national renewable electricity standard, first discussed in 2009, could create 297,000 new jobs in manufacturing, construction, operations, maintenance, agriculture, forestry, and other industries if there were a mandate of 25 percent renewable by 2025.

Scotland is beginning construction of the world’s largest power plan that will power 175,000 homes. By last year, wind turbines in the country provided 98 percent of required electricity in Scottish homes. When the wind went down, homes used solar panels—100 percent of necessary electricity in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Inverness during June and July and 60 percent in the same cities during March, April, May, August, and September.

Solar energy would be more popular in the United States without opposition from big businesses. Every three minutes a new rooftop solar system is installed in the United States, up from one every 80 minutes before Barack Obama became president. The Koch brothers and the heirs of the Walmart fortune are struggling to stamp out these solar projects by lobbying for exorbitant fees for anyone who dares put these panels on their roofs.

The fear is that all these people creating their own electricity will break the utility monopolies. The Waltons of Walmart want their own big company that uses solar panels to sell to customers instead of letting people install their own panels. They’d probably like to tax personal vegetable gardens so that more people would have to buy Walmart vegetables. Opposition started in Arizona, Kansas, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Washington. With fees in some of these states, installations are dropping as much as 40 percent. Big energy companies can’t buy out individual homeowners so they buy the congressional representatives instead.

In addition to voting to pass the KXL for the tenth time, the 114th Congress added to its 50 attacks on the Affordable Care Act and embarked on its anti-abortion campaign. Yet nothing has been said about authorizing any offensive in the Middle East. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) blames the White House for sending nothing to the House about military force to defeat terrorist enemies. President Obama has welcomed congressional authorization and asked legislators to address the issue, but Boehner wants the president to write the resolution’s text and lobby for its passage. Congress has taken long vacations since the ISIL crisis last summer, but the return of the legislators led only to saber-rattling about wiping out the current president.

Despite bitter complaints from the GOP that the president won’t treat Congress as a co-equal branch of government, Republicans want the president to do their work. When President Clinton used military force in Kosovo, GOP members of Congress wrote and voted on a resolution. A congressional resolution came from lawmakers when President Reagan sent U.S. troops to Lebanon. The same thing happened when President Obama launched strikes in Libya—another U.S. military resolution from Congress. There’s no history for the GOP sitting around, waiting for the president to write their resolutions.

Building the KXL seems to be the current GOP ideological symbol of power. Ignoring facts and evidence, Republicans pass a bill to improve the economy in Alberta, Canada. The more opposition directed at the KXL, the more conservatives believe in the importance of the project. Because Republicans have neither a jobs program nor an economic vision, they use the KXL in an attempt to prove that they are working for “the people.” After all the money spent in the elections last year, the GOP puts up the Keystone XL Pipeline as their most important issue. Trying to show that they are boldly sallying forth, the House continues its huge fights over minor issues.

Now the bill goes to the Senate where it will face amendments that the House prevented. Democrats plan at least three amendments that would actually provide jobs: no export of oil shipped through the pipeline, mandated manufacture of pipeline steel in the U.S., and additional financial incentives for renewable energy.

Even A CEO from one of the largest oil producers in North Dakota, Continental Resources, has called the pipeline “irrelevant.” Harold Hamm and Roger Kelley, director of regulatory affairs for the company, agreed that they’re “successfully transporting crude by rail.” Even if built, the pipeline would carry less than ten percent of the state’s daily shipments.

Production costs for tar sands oil are between $85 and $110 per barrel. Today the cost went below $49. Companies already lost $30.9 billion between 2010 and 2013 because of loss of oil markets and competition from lower-priced light crude. Tar sands oil has become a risky investment. Land rights of Canada’s indigenous groups, leading opposition to the pipeline, were strengthened last June, causing the Canadian government to back off. Gas sales are down in the United States because of electric cars, hybrids, more efficient fuel use, and greater access to clean energy. China, considered by Canada as a prime market, announced its program to cut carbon emissions.

Here are sites for petitions against the Keystone XL Pipeline, one for the president and the other for the Senate. Googling “Keystone petition” will have other sources.


1 Comment »

  1. The daily zinger hidden among the vast amounts of research: “They’d probably like to tax personal vegetable gardens so that more people would have to buy Walmart vegetables.” You’re likely right.


    Comment by Lee Lynch — January 10, 2015 @ 11:09 PM | Reply

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