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“Keystone” For the Future

While driving home from the store last month on April 24th, I came across a significant traffic jam not too far away from my home.  Upon inching closer to the intersection I noticed there were many police officers trying to keep order to what seemed to be about 200 people with signs, shouting through blow horns. While peaceful, the protestors were shouting “Say no to Tar Sands” while their signs not only referenced tar sands, but “Keystone XL.”

Source: treehugger.com

Source: treehugger.com

After finally arriving home yet still curious as to what I just witnessed, I researched Tar Sands to learn they consist of heavy crude oil mixed with clay and bitumen.  The tar sands are located in the Canadian forest near the eastern foothills of the Rocky Mountains.)  Tar sands are relevant to certain environmentalist groups opposing oil production.  Extracting the crude oil from the tar sands produces three times the greenhouse gas emissions of conventionally produced oil because of the energy required to extract and process the oil (Rainforest Action Network). I further learned that the term “Keystone XL” refers to the Keystone Pipeline. What does all this information have to do with a protest in Dallas on April 24th? Well, It turns out that the opening ceremony for the George W. Bush Presidential Center was scheduled for April 25th.  Since the protest site was near Love Field, I can only assume that the protest site was located on the route one or more of the living Presidents may have taken from the airport to their hotel.The Keystone Pipeline is a proposed 1,179 mile crude oil pipeline originating in Alberta Canada and extending through the United States, depending on the final route, from Montana to Texas.From a macroeconomic standpoint, and considering the current state of our economy in the United States, the pros far outweigh the cons.  For example, the pipeline will carry 830,000 barrels of oil per day thus reducing our dependence on foreign oil by up to 40 percent.  This increase of supply of oil, coupled with the reduction in transportation costs would definitely reduce the cost of goods to consumers.  In addition, our country would be less dependent on foreign oil, thus reducing our need to be so involved in the Middle East from a military and economic aid standpoint.  From a jobs standpoint, it is estimated that the pipeline would require 9,000 skilled American workers such as welders, mechanics, electricians, pipefitters, laborers, safety coordinators and heavy equipment operators.  In addition to the construction jobs, an estimated 7,000 jobs would be created to manufacture the pipe, steel fittings, pump and control devices for the project.  Also, the pipeline would generate an estimated $20 billion including $99 million in local government revenues and $486 million in state and government revenues during construction.  Finally, an estimated $5 billion is expected in additional property taxes during the life of the pipeline (TransCanada). In other words, the Keystone Pipeline would have a positive effect on many macroeconomic factors in our country including GDP and accelerate economic expansion during the business cycle.

KeystoneXLOilPipeline_updateWhile there are many environmental factors that must be considered with the Keystone Pipeline, the most pressing is the amount of additional greenhouse gasses that the project will produce.  In Joe Nocera’s article entitled “An environmentalists case for Keystone”, he writes, “According to a study by IHS Cera, a leading energy research firm, the oil from the tar sands emits only 6 percent more greenhouse gases than other, lighter forms of oil. (Environmental groups have tried to poke holes in the study, but even they don’t come up with the kind of increase that would doom the planet.) What’s more, there is plenty of oil being produced today with the same greenhouse gas consequences as the oil from the tar sands” (Nocera). Given the current state of the economy, our reliance on foreign oil and the positive economic impact, it makes sense for President Obama to support the Keystone Pipeline as a means to fulfill his campaign promise of repairing the United States Economy.

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