On Monday afternoon eight young men and woman illicitly entered and occupied TransCanada’s Westborough offices in order to protest the company’s construction of the Keystone pipeline. After reading the press accounts on the reasoning supporting their actions I find much of it baseless, unbalanced and hypocritical and here’s why:
First, to no one’s shock the process of extracting fossil fuels results in an environmental impact. It is true that oil sands crude contains more sulfur and takes more energy to extract than conventional oil. However, when considering the entire environmental picture, when compared to drilling for crude in the politically unstable and unfriendly middle-east, transporting it to the coastal regions, transferring it onto diesel powered tankers, transporting it halfway around the world over thousands of miles of volatile ocean waters, off-loading it into huge storage tanks and then piping it to our refineries one can visualize that the environmental risk for much of the world’s conventional crude are significantly greater than Canadian-based oil sands crude.
Second, a popular series of baseless allegations are that the Keystone pipeline itself will be an ecological disaster and contribute to global warming. Really? Under what “implausible” scenario? Keystone XL will be a new state-of-the-art pipeline using the most modern flow control technology, employing numerous safety features and offering rigorous spill response procedures. Pipelines are indisputably the safest, most efficient, most economical and most environmental friendly way to transport petroleum products when compared to other methods of transportation. Does anyone think for one split-second that TransCanada is not extremely sensitive to, nor doesn’t fully understand the potential exposure here? Does anyone doubt that they will not do anything and everything to minimize these risks? In fact our very own federal government through the State Department conducted an unprecedented 3-plus year environmental review citing very minimal environmental impacts.
Third, this multi-billion dollar pipeline project is and will continue to create thousands of direct construction and manufacturing jobs to supply the billions of dollars of materials. And certainly you can not ignore the myriad of indirect jobs to support the labor forces used to build the pipeline (such as restaurants, hotels, entertainment, gas stations, etc).
Fourth, the Keystone pipeline capacity will not be exclusive to the Canadian oil-sands. In fact it will likely serve as a key conduit for our burgeoning supplies of US-based crude!
I, like many of us favor of a balanced energy approach. Keystone is huge shovel-ready project which by any measure is one that will play an important role in creating solid benefits for our country such as permanent jobs, adding billions in tax revenues and most importantly linking us to a enormous supply of secure North American energy.
A sensible energy policy that employs all options and seeks to balance energy independence, price stability, economic viability and the environment will serve us very well. I am hopeful that our political leadership will eventually return to their senses and grant approval to the Keystone pipeline. I also look forward to the continued innovation, growth and use of clean, renewable and “economic” energy alternatives.
Finally, as mentioned at the beginning I believe the protesters to be hypocritical. Did anyone bother to ask them how they were transported to the TransCanada offices? I bet they didn’t all pile into a Chevy Volt. And I also wonder how they keep warm during the winter, cool during the summer, how they cook their food, light their homes and power their IPads? Dear protester, if you don't like using fossil fuels then stop using the energy derived from fossil fuels!