Saturday, November 15, 2014

Keystone XL Quiz

I really don't like tackling subjects like the Keystone XL pipeline because it so drenched in political misinformation that no matter how honest you are about the issue you'll be labeled a partisan hack by someone.

Since, my posts at NY21Poli are already gaining traction I guess my readers are smart enough to understand when I'm trying to just shine some light on an issue.

So here goes:

1) How many permanent jobs will be created by Keystone XL?

A) 120,000
B) 42,000
C) 1,900-9,000
D) 50-100

Answer: Okay, it's a bit of a trick question.  We'll start with the agreed upon information: The State Department and Transcanada say that there will be somewhere between 1,900 (State Dept's number) and 9,000 construction jobs tied to the 1 year construction of the pipeline.  These are long-term, temporary jobs that will begin and end with this job.  Is it better than a sharp stick in the eye? Yes, but would it even register as anything other than a rounding error in an economy with 150 million jobs, probably not.

The 42,000 jobs number includes the high estimate of construction jobs (9,000) plus and assumption that these jobs will create more demand at local coffee shops, hotel, etc.  This is a very big stretch and most people think this is a wild overestimate of jobs created.  The 120,000 jobs number is one tossed around by House Republicans and the pipeline builder doesn't support this estimate.

The real answer is D.

Yup, everyone from the White House to the company building the pipeline all agree that the supposed grand savior of our economy that we need to bring jobs back to America will yield a grand total of 50 to 100 permanent jobs.

Unfortunately, that's not a popular part of the story so you NEVER hear anyone say this.  50-100 jobs, that's what all of this clamor is about.

2) US Energy Independence will increase as a result of Keystone XL

True or False?

Answer: Well, this is clearly the claim but is it true?  Occasionally, you'll hear the more accurate North American Energy Independence, but over time some people get lazy with their bullet points and North American becomes American which becomes US :).

This is Canadian Tar Sands oil that we're talking about and the honest truth is that most of this is making it to the US as it stands today.  Most of this oil travels by rail car and is currently being refined in the US so we're really talking about the transportation of the same oil.

In theory, if more oil is able to be moved to US refineries we could reduce imports from the Middle East and oil from Venezuela. Since Canada is obviously a more stable trading partner, I'd say that this is about 60% true.

3) Keystone XL will lower the price I pay at the pump

True or False?

Answer: Again, since much of this oil is already processed in the US there would not be a material impact on prices.  Two different reviews of the pipeline came to the same conclusion that if there were any cost savings as a result of the pipeline they would benefit the refiners not consumers.

So, False.

4) Keystone XL will destroy the environment

True or False?

I hate to keep coming back to this point but this oil is already in the system so the pipeline won't put more or less of it in the system.  While it is true that tar sand oil contains 15-20% more greenhouse gases than other sources, the reality is that we are already refining this oil in the US and Canada so the method by which it gets to the refinery doesn't add any additional greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.  There is some concern about the pressures needed to run the oil through the pipeline and the risk of ruptures, but when compared to shipping this oil by rail (remember the Quebec town leveled last year in railcar explosion?) pipelines are considered to be safer.

So, mostly false.

If you read this before the Sunday talk shows keep this guide handy and listen to how many times you'll hear a Senator or Congressman talking about all of the jobs it would create (false), how it will lower gas prices (false) or how it will increase our energy independence (like 60% true).  Also, listen for people claiming that it's environmentally unsound to build this pipeline (mostly, false).


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