The issue of promoting domestic sources of energy in a world where America depends too much on foreign sources of oil has led to the promotion by the Republican Party of the proposed Keystone Pipeline from Canada down to Texas as a major solution that must be approved by the federal government before it can move ahead.
But it is not all that easy and settled that the Keystone Pipeline is a good direction for American energy and the American environment.
Here are the facts:
The Pipeline would go from Alberta, Canada through Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Iowa, and Texas.
The chance of greenhouse gas emissions and oil spills in sensitive areas is worrisome, plus the reality of a seismic zone with earthquake activity as high as 4.3 magnitude in 2002.
The danger to one of the largest water supplies, the Ogallala Aquifer, a major fresh water source, which spans eight states, provides drinking water to 2 million people and $20 billion in agriculture in the major area of the Farm Belt, could devastate the Midwest economy and deny safe drinking water in case of a disaster similar to the Gulf Oil Spill.
The danger to the environment would include harm to migratory birds and other wildlife, and far more devastating damages from tar sands oil which is more polluting than regular petroleum, and could cause long term damage for centuries, all in the name of profit over safety.
The Republican Governor of Nebraska, Dave Heineman, has opposed the project because of concern as to its effect on Nebraska economically and environmentally. He has signed legislation to divert the pipeline away from sensitive areas in the state, because of concern over its long range impact. So it is not just Democrats who are concerned over the project.
The Koch Brothers, deeply involved in conservative causes, are a major influence on convincing the Republicans in Congress to pressure Barack Obama to agree to the project as part of a tax deal extension for the bulk of 2012, which means “blackmail” is being utilized in reality.
The idea of major employment growth is belied by the facts that only a few thousand permanent jobs would be created, having a negligible effect on the unemployment rate.
The effect on the entire energy picture in America would also be negligible, hardly a blip in the entire controversy over becoming less dependent on foreign oil. It is simply an attempt to force the pipeline on America despite its insignificant impact on both jobs and energy supply.
President Obama wants to delay the project decision moving forward to 2013, but it could become a hot political issue in 2012, and is a controversy which needs a lot more exposure and discussion before an agreement that could harm the long range future of the nation.