Share This Page

A plea for Obama to build the pipeline

| Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014,

What are we waiting for? The Keystone Pipeline issue couldn't be clearer. Build it! Build it yesterday.

Forty-two thousand jobs are waiting in the wings, including 9,000 in construction. That's $2 billion in personal incomes and at least that much more in sales of steel pipe, valves, pumps and related gear, plus tax revenues for dozens of counties along the route and a guesstimated $3.4 billion boost to Gross Domestic Product.

All this and popularity too. Poll after poll shows 65-odd percent of Americans in favor of this big inch-step toward energy independence.

Should be an easy stroke of the pen for President Obama, you'd think.

But despite frustration with years of studying the country's largest impending infrastructure project, the forces in favor, including labor unions, can't seem to work up the passion of the forces against.

Environmentalists see Keystone as a milestone on Doomsday Road. It will leak and poison groundwater, they say, and at the least encourage driving with notably “dirty” oil, spewing greenhouse gases that warm the Earth and intensify weather disasters.

Weren't 280 candlelight vigils recently held in 49 states as if the planet's very life or death hung in the balance?

All this to head off economic temptation: 875 miles of rolled and welded steel to carry crude from the oil sands of western Canada to a spot on the map in Nebraska. From there it's hundreds of miles more, but in pipe already laid, to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast. A 1,700-mile project all told.

The president is on record to approve if Keystone doesn't “significantly exacerbate” Earth's climate problem.

The State Department gave him perfect case-closed on Jan. 31.

It issued a huge report (11 volumes) which, boiled down, said we can live with this heavy oil, though it does emit more carbon than average. But somebody somewhere is going to buy it and burn it. (China, anyone?) Consuming the pipeline's 800,000 daily barrels might equate to adding six coal-fired electric plants to the nation's power grid. Environmentalists immediately jumped on the report's methodology and integrity. Secretary of State John Kerry hasn't spoken yet; then the president, and, well, it's also a congressional election year.

Some pundits predict the thing will never be built. If Obama dares sign on, Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune said in an interview, “it will be the Vietnam of his presidency.”

Ah capitalism, 21st Century style.

Here's a job-creator vetted through 15,000 pages of earlier environmental studies, says New York Stock Exchange-listed pipeline builder TransCanada Corp. It cites contracts with 50 U.S. suppliers, promises that 59 “special conditions” will make Keystone a pipeline fit for anybody's backyard. Safer than trains of oil tankers anyway, of which some big ones have crashed lately and fatally.

Let's go with this pipeline, Mr. President.

Jack Markowitz is a columnist for Trib Total Media. Email jmarkowitz@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.