For the last two election cycles voters across the nation have been deluged with statements about the XL pipeline both pro and con. The campaign babble battle has been financed by foreign and domestic oil interests and the environmental concerns industry and been delivered by partisan candidates. If you can’t trust this cast of characters, who, pray tell, can you?
We have been told ad nauseam by Republican and Democratic candidates alike that the XL Pipeline would provide jobs, economic growth and national security. The professional environmentalists and their cadre of plagiarizing followers have told us that the extraction and processing of the tar sands would be the tipping point in their battle against climate change.
Environmentalists who repeat over and over that the tar sands oil the XL would carry is the dirtiest of dirty oil and therefore should remain in the ground did not find favor with the two-cars-in-every-garage public. The highest number I could find is that the pollution from tar sands oil is up to 20 percent greater than typical oil deposits. That is indicative of the hype-over-fact that has dominated this discussion. Environmentalists could have won this argument if they had relied on truth rather than their favorite fund-raising clichés.
The winning argument is that the XL will provide jobs and energy security. Republican strategists advanced the jobs argument hoping to attract the elusive Reagan Democrats.
The jobs numbers come from the State Department’s analysis and are controversial because so many have nothing to do with the construction of the pipeline. The manufacturing components and service industry jobs already exist but are counted in the analysis.
The defendable job numbers are 4,000 workers working for several months. By proposed union contract, half of these may be Canadians working in the U.S. Because the contract calls for a rollback of the last two union contracts, many of the union workers would be offered less than $18 per hour so many would be union workers from Mexico (Outpost, June 6, 2013). It is universally agreed that the permanent jobs would be 40 to 50.
The largest component of ancillary jobs would be those making the 1,600 miles of pipe. Sixty percent of the pipe will be made by Welspun Corp. LTD, based in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. Twenty-four percent would be made in Regina, Saskatchewan, and 16 percent would be made in Italy. While there will be some jobs at the Little Rock, Ark., plant of Welspun, all the profits will be taken by foreign national corporations.
After testifying before Congress that the steel in the pipes would be manufactured in the United States, TransCanada later admitted that all of the steel used to make the pipe will be made in foreign countries.
As recently as last week, Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., stated that support for the XL pipeline was about jobs and the national security achieved through energy independence.
President Obama observed, “Understand what this project is: It is providing the ability of Canada to pump their oil, send it through our land, down to the Gulf, where it will be sold everywhere else. It doesn’t have an impact on U.S. gas prices.”
President Obama would have been totally correct if he had said that the XL will not have a “positive” impact on U.S. gasoline prices. Most of the crude delivered through the XL will be delivered to the Motiva Complex and the Valero refinery in Port Arthur, Texas. Valero is responsible for 25 percent of U.S. exports of refined oil products.
The Motiva Complex is the largest refinery in the United States and is owned jointly by the Royal Dutch Family and the Royal Saudi Family. It was retrofitted at a cost of $10 billion to handle the caustic tar sands and refine it into diesel fuel to ship to Central and South America.
We import 6 million to 7 million barrels of oil per day to fuel the United States. But we export 3.2 million barrels of petroleum products per day.
During the October debate between U.S. Senate candidates Steve Daines, a Republican, and Democrat Amanda Curtis, Curtis stated that we should not build the XL to ship crude oil to foreign countries but rather to deliver the crude to U.S. refineries to serve the U.S. economy.
Daines admonished that it is against the law to export U.S. crude and has been since the 1973 Arab oil embargo. Daines is and was correct. But in June 2014 the Department of Commerce reclassified the liquid coming out of wellheads of shale oil plays from “crude oil” to “condensates” so it could be exported.
How the proponents of the XL can continue to claim support for the XL on account of energy independence and jobs, without even a smile, is a mystery. Lorne Stockman, writing for Oil Change International, observed that this is “not a pipeline to America but rather a pipeline through America.” He summarized it best when he said that it is now even more abundantly clear that the pipeline has nothing to do with the U.S. national interest, which is the criterion for State Department approval.
Brad Molnar is a former state legislator and member of the Montana Public Service Commission. Next week his final installment on the XL pipeline will appear in the Outpost.
Last Updated on Thursday, 22 January 2015 15:13