The truth about "the truth about Keystone," parts 2 and 3

The biggest factor holding President Obama back from approving the Keystone XL pipeline after a full five years of dithering and delay is the simple reality that well-monied and radical green lobbies as well as a bunch of Democratically-donating celebrities and rich people are so dead set against it. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, one such billionaire named Tom Steyer started up a four-part TV ad campaign to try and turn Americans against the Keystone pipeline, and I’m just going to dive right in to the task of debunking parts two and three in the series — they are only about 90 seconds each, but it really is an impressive amount of distortion, misinformation, and omission to fit into such a short amount of time.

The second ad: “Risk.”

“One thing we know for sure about pipelines: They corrode, they leak, they burst — 300 times a year on average, from Kalamazoo, Michigan to Mayflower, Arkansas.” Yes, thank you, Captain Obvious. Here are a few other things we know for sure about pipelines you forgot to mention: There are already hundreds of thousands of miles of terrestrial pipeline crisscrossing the United States and transporting oil, natural gas, and petroleum every day; pipelines have been used safely and successfully in the U.S. for over a century; and that pipelines are a hugely integral part of our domestic energy infrastructure. With all of that daily volume, they are bound to leak sometimes, but Steyer is trying to imply that the 300 such spills a year are all of the mega-disaster spills ilk he goes on to describe. Hint: They aren’t.

“Each week, we’re visiting places that know what it would mean if TransCanada is allowed to build the Keystone pipeline through America’s heartland.” …Actually the Keystone pipeline is already built through America’s heartland, and largely operational. The pipeline is complete or almost complete throughout most of its southern portions; it is just the construction of the northern XL extension connecting the network to Canada on which TransCanada has been hoping/waiting for approval.

Yes, the Pegasus pipeline rupture in Arkansas last spring was really bad — but such an awful spill is exceedingly rare (and technology is improving all the time) and helps to demonstrate precisely why we need updates and additions to our existing pipeline infrastructure. Moreover, faced with a lack of pipeline, energy companies are increasingly turning to the less efficient, less cost effective, less environmentally friendly, and less safe methods of transport to bring their wares to market.

“So how safe is Keystone? A former TransCanada inspector says, ‘Keystone XL will likely leak.'” Talk about ‘out of context’! Obviously, due to its hugeness and likely longevity, Keystone will likely leak somewhere, at some point; but again, the chances of it being a major catastrophe like that in Mayflower, Arkansas are very slim to none.

“We can’t afford to let foreign oil companies risk our health.” First of all, at least 25 percent of the pipeline’s capacity is going to be reserved for domestically produced oil from North Dakota and etcetera; secondly, Canadian oil has been making its way through the U.S. for years already via existing pipelines and railway; and thirdly, he makes “foreign oil companies” sound like mean, dirty, evil entities — instead of the reality in which we all contribute to a global free market, wherein plenty of supply means lower prices for everybody and free trade is not a zero-sum game.

Phew. Now, for this week’s treat from Steyer: “Priorities.”

“It’s a fact: Clean energy is creating good jobs all across our country.” Yes, please, do let’s just blithely overlook for a moment the many forms of relentless taxpayer subsidization that wind and solar receive and that their actual contributions to our domestic energy scheme are aggressively overestimated. No big.

“Today, America’s energy sector is growing stronger as we diversify, creating hundreds of thousands of clean-energy jobs here at home, while reducing our dependence on foreign oil from abroad.” The tricky little implication here is that our (heavily subsidized) clean-energy growth is somehow responsible for our decreasing dependence on oil from abroad. Wrong. The single biggest factor behind our lately reduced oil imports is simply that we are now producing so much oil and gas ourselves — which also happens to be the saving grace behind President Obama’s otherwise pathetic excuse for an economy. And, I’m sorry — which industry is it creating hundreds and thousands of private-sector jobs annually?

“But here’s what they don’t say: A State Department analysis found that Keystone will create just 35 permanent jobs once the pipeline is built. As a businessman, I don’t devalue any job, but 35 jobs maintaining a foreign-oil pipeline…? That’s not going to grow our economy, and it would undercut the kinds of clean-energy jobs that are re-powering America.” Yes, and here’s what Tom Steyer doesn’t say, just before repeating the mischaracterization of Keystone as a “foreign-oil pipeline” and doubling down on the myth that clean-energy jobs have had anything to do with the self-multiplying strength of the American energy sector: That the State Department report also found that the pipeline would generate 42,100 direct and indirect jobs during a two-year construction phase. What’s more, if America wants to keep up with the growth of its oil and gas sector, it’s going to need a lot more pipeline construction over the coming years to keep it going — and that does grow the economy, whatever Tom Steyer might say.

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