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KXL, the Pipeline Paved With Money

MoneyInDCPoliticsViaEcoWatch

Not that this is unusual, it’s the norm in corporate politics, that the KXL pipeline’s approved construction is paved with money. One of the most recent and entirely obvious examples of the kind of political maneuvering related to TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipe line is another U.S. House vote. At Think Progress:

House Attempts To Force Approval Of Keystone Pipeline That Would Create Just 35 Permanent Jobs

In what will likely prove as meaningless a vote as the 34th repeal vote of Obamacare, on Wednesday night 241 members of the House of Representatives voted to approve the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline. H.R. 3 would give Congress the power to approve the pipeline and allow TransCanada to build the northern leg without a cross-border permit.

These legislators support the oil industry’s push for the pipeline, even though it would create far fewer jobs than its supporters claim, would do nothing to make the country more energy independent, and would facilitate a dramatic increase in the production of high carbon polluting tar sands oil.

The 241 members who voted for the bill have taken a collective $39,150,812 in career contributions from the oil and gas industry, compared to $5,094,217 for those who voted no. Even more starkly, in the last election cycle, that split widens to $11,529,335 versus $742,125.

About the jobs thing, proponents of KXL, including Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, have talked about thousands of permanent U.S. jobs. According to Common Dreams, while in New York to promote Keystone last week, Harper claimed the project would produce “40,000 jobs in this country alone over the life of the project.” Now, he didn’t say those were permanent, but he also didn’t qualify the number in any way. I think we know what we’re supposed to think.

Back to Think Progress:

While some conservatives may claim the pipeline would create tens of thousands of jobs, the most recent State Department draft environmental impact statement found that the pipeline would directly create only ‘3,900’ temporary construction jobs. After construction is complete, the operation of the pipeline would only support 35 permanent and 15 temporary jobs, with ‘negligible socioeconomic impacts.’

Along with many others, I’ve frequently stated that with the construction (nearing completion) of the southern section — approved by Obama, in an expedited manner — it seems highly unlikely the State Department and/or Obama administration will not approve the northern section. In practical terms, the southern section serves as a positive signal to the petroleum industry that their campaign donations and lobbying efforts are working. It also serves as the official notice that those in charge — from corporate offices to DC — don’t have a problem with making backyards a petroleum playground. Those unfortunate enough to live along the path of the southern section (from Cushing, Oklahoma, to Houston and Port Arthur, Texas) are the victims, the destruction of their land a kind of collateral damage. Or just a cost of doing business. The use of eminent domain to seize lands in Texas, for example, is reported at OpEdNews.

At TruthOut, Mark Karlin makes the argument that KXL is a done deal, one way or the other.

When Obama approved what is known as the southern leg of the pipeline … the spigot was opened to transport the climate-killing tar sands oil to refineries and ports in Texas — and facilities along the way. The only issue outstanding is whether Obama will approve a northern branch of the Keystone XL Pipeline that will be more profitable and deliver much more volume than the current stitched together pipeline that is nearing completion. …

It is tragically ironic that the extremely crude tar sands oil will flow to Texas just after a new report indicates that ‘the amount of carbon in the atmosphere is on the verge of hitting 400 parts per million, a new milestone.’ …

The pipeline became a flashpoint in the climate justice movement after leading NASA climate scientist James Hansen called the project ‘the fuse to the largest carbon bomb on the planet.’

We won’t know for sure what Obama is going to do until he finally tells us, of course. The multiple organizations opposing KXL continue what they surely know is one part of a long-term, broader effort related to the enormous power of the petroleum industries in the governments of the United States, Canada and beyond. KXL has become a focus because it is both representative of bigger issues, and because of its immediate effects.

One other response I’ll note is from Organizing for America. As reported at Buzzfeed:

Talking points released by the Obama grassroots arm caution members about demands from pipeline opponents. ‘OFA supports and respects the process as it is currently underway.’

You know, that process that cheered on the southern section.

(Money in Politics via EcoWatch)

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