The Keystone XL Pipeline has been catapulted back in the spotlight of the House of Representatives this week, with Republicans continuing to waste taxpayer dollars rehashing who has the power to approve the project. Meanwhile, the State Department will be hosting a public hearing in Nebraska today to give residents a chance to comment on the pipeline that will disrupt their local communities.
Earlier this week, both the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power and the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved the Northern Route Approval Act (H.R.3), which would usurp the State Department’s right to decide on Keystone and allow TransCanada Corp. to build the northern leg without a cross-border permit. Republicans in both hearings regurgitated typical Big Oil talking points, claiming Keystone would create thousands of jobs for American workers while providing a boost in U.S. energy security.
During his opening statement on Tuesday’s Subcommittee hearing, Representative Ed Whitfield (R-KY) said:
At this point we are all familiar with the benefits of this project that would bring more Canadian oil to Midwestern and Gulf Coast refineries. The estimated 20,000 direct and 100,000 indirect jobs alone would likely make it a more successful jobs program than any project in the $800 billion dollar stimulus package or any other job creating effort the president currently has in the works.
In reality, Keystone would create 3,900 temporary jobs and only 35 permanent, while providing “negligible socioeconomic impacts,” according to a report by the State Department. While Republicans may try to blame the administration for the less than ideal jobs numbers, the report was actually written by a private consulting firm with links to the pipeline’s owner, TransCanada Corp., as well as Exxon Mobil, BP and the Koch brothers.
Multiple other GOP members made reference to the supposed boost in national security the pipeline will supply, but the State Department’s report made clear that at least some of the Keystone oil will be refined and then exported in response “to lower domestic gasoline demand and continued higher demand and prices in overseas markets.” This means Keystone adds nothing to U.S. energy security and that the pipeline is a way for the industry to get access to steeper oil prices in foreign markets.
Once again, analysis has discovered that Big Oil has paid to secure their yea votes on Keystone, with members of the Energy and Commerce Committee who voted to approve H.R.3 having received eight times more in career contributions from the oil and gas industries. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, members voting to approve the pipeline received $8,686,427 while members voting against received only $1,020,631.
Nebraskans will have a chance to express how they feel about Big Oil buying votes today, with a public hearing held by the State Department beginning at 12pm in Grand Island, Nebraska. The All Risk, No Reward Coalition and other environmental groups have released ads reminding Nebraskans that oil will spill frequently as it is pumped through the U.S. on its way to be exported out of the country.
Tiffany Germain is a Senior Climate/Energy Researcher in the Think Progress War Room.