The White House says that President Barack Obama will veto the Keystone Pipeline if it passes congress, sending the republican party scurrying to try to come up with enough votes to override the veto. While Obama has been publicly non-commital on the issue up to this point in the hopes that it wouldn’t end up on his desk one way or the other, his definitive stance comes now that it the decision will ultimately be his. And there’s little argument to be made that he’s making anything other than the right choice, as Keystone only benefits China and Canada, and does more harm to the United States than good. Here’s a look at the facts, the (lack of) jobs it’ll create, and its (lack of an) impact on U.S. gas prices.
The key factor in any Keystone Pipeline debate is the fact that none of the oil involved is being drilled by U.S. companies or being delivered or sold to U.S. consumers. Instead, the pipeline runs oil northward across the United States so Canada can sell it to China. So the effect on U.S. oil and gas prices would be literally zero; prices at the pump wouldn’t drop by a single penny. Independent studies reveal that fewer than fifty permanent jobs would be created, less than what you’d get from the opening of a single McDonald’s restaurant, so there’s no ancillary boost to the U.S. economy.
So what would the United States get out of the Keystone Pipeline? One word: headaches. If there is a spill, it would be the responsibility of the parties that built it to clean it up. But the United States would get stuck with the ongoing environmental damage, which can be extraordinarily costly if it seeps into the water supply, or if it does damage to private property whose owners must be financially compensated.
In other words there’s simply nothing to be gained here by the United States. President Obama’s decision to veto is an obvious one, and if he is to be doubted, it’s for his initial reluctance to publicly come out against Keystone sooner. The larger question here may be this: if the Keystone Pipeline will do nothing to benefit America’s gas prices, oil production, jobs, or economy, all while creating a potentially expensive environmental disaster, why are the republicans in congress trying to hard to get it approved – and which foreign corporation or foreign government are the republicans truly answering to?