House Republicans want to make a Debt Ceiling agreement with Obama conditional on his approving the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Here are some things you may not know about it, as reported by Walter Brasch:
1. In Texas, construction on the Keystone Pipeline has already begun.
2. TransCanada already has legal "authority" under federal and state law to take land from private landowners to build it, without their consent. Yes, "eminent domain" power has been transferred to a foreign corporation: "At least 89 Texas landowners have had their properties condemned and then seized by TransCanada." If the entire pipeline is approved, eminent domain will victimize landowners in five other states.
3. "During the past decade, there were 6,367 pipeline incidents, resulting in 154 deaths, 540 injuries... and $4.7 billion in property damage, according to the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. A report released a year ago by Cornell University's Global Labor Institute concludes that economic damage caused by potential spills from the Keystone pipeline could outweigh the benefits of jobs created by the project. In the past three years, there have already been 14 spills on the operational parts of the Keystone Pipeline."
4. TransCanada and its Canadian government enablers don't exactly exude class. They frequently call environmentalist protestors of the pipeline "terrorists."
5. Not that anyone's property rights should depend on unemployment rates or "economic benefit," but State Department studies suggest 42,000 direct and indirect jobs will be created over a two-year period, but just 35 permanent jobs.
6. While the Canadian tar sand oil will be refined on the Gulf Coast, it won't be sold in the states but rather exported to China. That's because this kind of oil doesn't meet domestic regulations. (Source, a public meeting on the topic two months ago in a Nebraska village.)
7. In the case of a spill, TransCanada will just be responsible for a tiny portion of the cost of cleanup. (Source, same meeting.)
I don't believe the President should rule on issues like this. TransCanada should be free to negotiate a route with willing landowners and assume all the risks of cleanup costs.
Because if they have to rely on thuggish eminent domain laws and sweetheart bailout deals with politicians to get the project moving forward, than it's simply too expensive to build. It's not economical, which means it's wasteful, which almost by definition makes it harmful to the environment.
But an environmental argument against the Keystone Pipeline isn't even needed to oppose it. On its face, the project is eminent domain abuse and corporate welfare run amok. The Keystone Pipeline is a crime.