Archive for March 27th, 2013

by lizard

The Editorial Board of the Missoulian—Publisher Jim McGowan, Editor Sherry Devlin, and Opinion Editor Tyler Christensen—want Obama to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

Though I have little doubt Obama’s state department will eventually do just that, it’s worth examining why our local editorial board decided to shill away their paper’s editorial voice supporting this disastrous project:

Eventually, President Barack Obama is going to have to make some sort of decision about the Keystone XL pipeline project. So far he’s managed to put off signing the presidential permit needed to move the project forward – and it looks like he has a little more time still.

But within the next couple of months, the U.S. State Department will complete its review of the environmental impact statement, and all signs point to an official recommendation to approve the pipeline. Obama should be ready to add his support for this important addition to the nation’s energy infrastructure.

First, I may need some help understanding something. How can a pipeline built by a foreign corporation for the ultimate goal of enriching its shareholders be construed as adding to America’s national energy infrastructure? Am I missing something?

Selling this mess to Americans hinges on carefully managing the cost/benefit perceptions of a public mostly removed from the negative impacts of building and maintaining an oil pipeline.

Before the obvious cheerleading about jobs, Baucus and “widespread” support is highlighted. Then, as weakly as possible, the “vocal opposition” is described:

Last Friday, the U.S. Senate made its position clear with a 62-37 vote in favor of the project. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., co-authored the nonbinding budget amendment in an attempt to send a strong message about the proposed pipeline’s significance. The Senate vote reflects widespread support for the project, including in Montana, notwithstanding a good deal of vocal opposition from opponents, including in Montana.

Some famous names have joined the movement to convince Obama to reject the permit application. Many environmentalists are concerned about potential oil spills. Some of them argue that the pipeline would result in increased greenhouse gas emissions. And, of course, in his recent State of the Union address, Obama all but ordered Congress to slow climate change by addressing greenhouse gas emissions.

After this meager effort, it becomes clear the writers of this editorial had to preserve their strength in order to heave out the following bit of salesmanship:

However, it’s a good bet that the majority of Montanans are in favor of the project. Certainly Montana’s entire congressional delegation is on board. They understand that the pipeline project will create thousands of new, good-paying jobs and prefer that the U.S. get its oil from its close neighbor and ally, Canada. They note that TransCanada has agreed to a strict set of conditions designed to avoid any environmental damage. Besides, the State Department has concluded that the project carries no significant risk of environmental harm – or of an increased rate of greenhouse gas emissions, given that development of Canada’s tar sands is expected to happen with or without the new pipeline.

The thousands of good paying new jobs, one of the biggest hyped benefits, are almost all temporary. A report in 2010 estimated that number was around 118,000 jobs. That number has since been cut in half, and the number of permanent jobs? According to a state department report: 35.

The State Department has just this week released a report which actually estimates a far lower number of jobs will be created by the Keystone XL pipeline. The one to two year construction phase of the pipeline will likely only create around 42,100 jobs, and this number would fall to just 35 permanent jobs in order to perform maintenance and inspections along the entire length.

A possible cost of a pipeline is the cost to humans, the environment, and the taxpayer pocketbook if a spill happens. Thank goodness there are “strict conditions” that TransCanada has agreed to. And the state department says “no significant risk of environmental harm”.

That certainly wasn’t what the Governor of Nebraska was saying back in August of 2011.

And then there’s that whole getting our oil fix from a friend instead of a foe. I have a different understanding of who friends and foes are, and for now I’ll just leave it at that, because there’s more editorial to consume.

But if it is approved, the Keystone XL pipeline extension would carry up to 830,000 barrels of crude oil per day from the Port of Morgan on the Montana-Canadian border, through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska to connect to an existing pipeline in Steel City, Neb., and eventually reach the Gulf Coast. This portion of the pipeline would cover nearly 900 miles and cost more than $3 billion.

TransCanada first forwarded the pipeline proposal in 2008; received Canadian approval just two years later. The U.S. portion of the project, meanwhile, is still under debate. Montana and South Dakota have both granted their approval; Nebraska recently signed on as well after TransCanada agreed to route the pipeline around environmentally sensitive areas.

On March 1, the State Department released its supplemental EIS. It is now conducting the 45-day public comment portion of this laborious and time-consuming process. Once this chapter of the Keystone XL pipeline saga has ended, Obama should finally close the book on it. He should go ahead and sign the permit.

Remember folks, TransCanada is going to sell this shit anyway to someone, so Obama should just get it over with. And honestly, he really needs to stop stringing along the hopeless hopefuls hoping Obama won’t do what us cynics now expect him to do, like protect Monsanto.

I guess this is just the fucked up world we live in, a world where a shilling editorial board pimps itself for oil while asshole MT Republicans kill 12,000 jobs and destroy the opportunity to insure 70,000 uninsured Montanans.

Thank the almighty lord I’m getting the hell out of town next week. I need a little vacation.

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