Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Oil Sands of Time

President Obama accepted State Department advice and killed the Keystone oil sands project, as officially announced Wednesday.  The oil sands of time were running out, thanks to the GOPer congressionals' deadline, so it's bye bye pipeline.

Bill McKibben commented: "this isn’t just the right call, it’s the brave call. The knock on Barack Obama from many quarters has been that he’s too conciliatory. But here, in the face of a naked political threat from Big Oil to exact ‘huge political consequences,’ he’s stood up strong. This is a victory for Americans who testified in record numbers, and who demanded that science get the hearing usually reserved for big money."

GOPers gushing the usual oily bullshit from whichever orifice they use to talk, charge this kills jobs, kills energy independence.  Their inflated figure for how many jobs the pipeline would have created was 20,000.  Actual experts say it would have been closer to 6,000.

But according to the Brookings Institution, the growing clean energy industries already employ some 2.7 million in the U.S., with explosive job growth that outpaced the rest of the economy during and after the Great Recession.  Moreover, "The clean economy offers more opportunities and better pay for low- and middle-skilled workers than the national economy as a whole."

Meanwhile, in one industrial city just north of the U.S. border, a coalition of business, government, environmentalists and labor (including the efforts of one of the most dedicated readers of Captain Future's Dreaming Up Daily--congrats, Cousin Lemuel, otherwise known as Bill Thompson) has brought a major wind turbine manufacturing project to Hamilton, Ontario--with an expected 1900 jobs.  These will be the first offshore wind power assembly facilities in North America.

This is just the beginning, if America would get serious. A new study concludes that a truly serious approach to energy efficiency could alone add up to 2 million new jobs in the next few decades.

So the jobs argument is specious, and is only part of the economic story (if you want to reduce everything to that.)  Opponents to the Keystone pipeline cite tremendous costs to protect water, soil and air against pollution, and even higher costs for accidents and the hidden costs (because families mostly bear them) of bad effects on health.  It's a similar story with clean energy--the health benefits are also economic benefits. 

And of course, there's the economic price of the Climate Crisis--which the Keystone pipeline would hasten to its worst case scenarios---with costs that could include the very concept of "economy" as we know it.

In the transitional meantime, an expanding U.S. oil and gas industry has added some 75,000 jobs since President Obama took office.  There's no truth to even this charge, that the pipeline harms the effort to decrease dependence on foreign oil sources.  But apparently a 13% expansion of these industries isn't enough for some of these fossil fuel hot air billionaires.  They have to own the planet, as they ruin it.

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