Promoting Tar Sands Myths, CNN’s Steve Hargreaves Bets Keystone XL Pipeline Will Be Approved

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"Promoting Tar Sands Myths, CNN’s Steve Hargreaves Bets Keystone XL Pipeline Will Be Approved"

CNN's Steve Hargreaves

After months and even years of grassroots protests against the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, national media are starting to take notice. CNN’s Randi Kaye featured the controversial pipeline as an “undercovered” story, in a segment with CNNMoney.com’s Steve Hargreaves. Hargreaves portrayed the battle over the foreign pipeline as one of “hopes for the economy” versus “fears for the environment.” Tar sands crude is “a little bit dirtier” than conventional oil, Hargreaves conceded, but he said that the economic benefits of building a pipeline to pump tar sands crude from Canada to Texas refineries will win out:

Ultimately it is an election year and it will create a lot of jobs and it will be a lot of money and Americans are concerned about energy, they’re concerned about energy independence, they’re concerned about high gasoline prices. So to vote — to limit the amount of oil coming in to this country especially coming into it from a place like Canada would be a very difficult thing for Obama to do while facing what’s going to be a tough re-election. So most analysts, yes, they do expect it will be built.

Watch it:

Independent analysts whose work wasn’t paid for by the oil industry believe that the claims Hargreaves made are likely false. The tar sands pipeline will be as bad for the American economy as it is for the environment:

Keystone XL Could Kill American Jobs. TransCanada and the American Petroleum Institute cite a study by the Perryman Group, commissioned by TransCanada, that claims the pipeline’s construction will generate 20,000 American jobs. The U.S. State Department’s analysis, drafted by Cardno Entrix and also commissioned by TransCanada, estimates that the construction will only involve 5,000 to 6,000 workers, including non-American employees.

The only study independent of TransCanada influence, by the Cornell Global Labor Institute, finds that even the State Department’s employment figures are too rosy. In the first stages of the pipeline project, steel from Canada and India was used, and only 11 percent of workers were local hires. The pipeline will reduce air quality in both Canada and the U.S., increasing health care costs and thus killing jobs, for decades after the brief construction period of the pipeline.

Keystone XL Will Increase Gasoline Prices. Gasoline prices are expected to rise in 15 Midwest states, because the pipeline will allow Canadian oil producers to bypass that market and reach Texas refineries for export to China and the rest of the global market. In Canada, TransCanada says that one of the benefits of the pipeline is that it will raise the price of heavy crude oil in the Midwest.

Keystone XL Will Threaten Energy Independence. Canadian tar sands oil won’t reduce American dependence on foreign oil. The Keystone XL pipeline is designed to feed the global market, instead of U.S. demand. Its primary effect on American energy policy will be to increase the profits and thus the political influence of oil industry players like Exxon Mobil and Koch Industries, while accelerating the threats of global warming. Climate change, the greatest threat to global security, could reach a point of no return if Canada’s tar sands are fully exploited.

The Keystone XL debate is not economy versus environment — it’s a battle between dirty energy and clean energy.

CNN, whose campaign coverage has been sponsored for years by the coal and oil industry, has a shoddy track record of promoting dirty, risky, and expensive fossil fuel technologies, from “clean coal” to Arctic drilling.

Transcript:

KAYE: It is 1,700 miles long on paper anyway, and three feet wide. It would bisect the nation already split between economic hopes and environmental fears. as big and controversial as it is, the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline is “undercovered.” Here’s the plan: connect the oil sands of Alberta, Canada with the oil refineries of southeast Texas. In between are millions of acres of farms, forests, rivers and streams which no one wants to see covered in oil. But there are also millions of Americans who need jobs and TransCanada, the project’s owner, says Keystone XL will put 20,000 Americans to work. You may have seen pictures of the anti-pipeline protests. This one got Darryl Hannah arrested outside the White House. If President Obama missed them, he certainly knows that there is a backlash. Here he is yesterday in Denver trying to talk student loans.

OBAMA: All right. Thank you, guys. We’re looking at it right now. No decision has been made and I know your deep concern about it so we will address it.

KAYE: Since the pipeline would cross U.S. borders, addressing it is up to Hillary Clinton. State Department gets the final say after a series of public hearings and an environmental impact study that pipeline opponents say was fixed. That’s because TransCanada picked the firm and a TransCanada lobbyist is a former campaign aide to Clinton. See how this works? I’m joined by senior writer for CNNMoney.com, Steve Hargreaves. Steve, this story certainly isn’t “undercovered” by you. What would the pipeline mean for U.S. imports?

HARGREAVES: It would mean a lot of new oil, doubling imports coming from Canada’s oil sands into the U.S. Right now we consume about 1 million barrels a day. Pipeline would add 700,000 to that so it is a lot of oil.

KAYE: In terms of environmental concerns, these concerns go beyond the potential leaks in a pipeline. Right? We’re talking about something called tar sands here. Can you shed some light on that?

HARGREAVES: Yeah, correct. the oil comes from — in Alberta they have oil sands or tar sands and it is a heavier form of oil and it is basically like a tar mixed with a sand. In order to extract it you either have to mine it like a big open pit mine, or you have to use traditional oil drilling techniques but with the addition of heat. So what it all means is that they’re a little bit dirtier than a traditional form of oil. Estimates are that they produce anywhere from 5% to 30% more greenhouse gases on a well-to-wheel basis than traditional oil does. So that’s what has a lot of people concerned. They don’t like the additional pollution that would be associated with expanding production from these oil sands.

KAYE: And I’m sure that in your reporting you’ve probably talked with many analysts about this. Do they think that this pipeline will get U.S. approval?

HARGREAVES: Well, yeah. Ultimately it is an election year and it will create a lot of jobs and it will be a lot of money and Americans are concerned about energy, they’re concerned about energy independence, they’re concerned about high gasoline prices. So to vote — to limit the amount of oil coming in to this country especially coming into it from a place like Canada would be a very difficult thing for Obama to do while facing what’s going to be a tough re-election. So most analysts, yes, they do expect it will be built.

KAYE: When will we have that final decision, do you think?

HARGREAVES: Well, it is a long process. The State Department just finished up some public hearings on it. They have a few more hearings to do. I think a decision is expected by the end of the year.

KAYE: All right, Steve Hargreaves, appreciate your reporting on that, what we think is an “undercovered” issue. Thank you.

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