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Keystone Pipeline is ultimately a pipe dream

Published: Thursday, March 29, 2012

Updated: Thursday, March 29, 2012 00:03

Republican criticisms of President Barack Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline project have been a consistent presence in news articles since January. However, the pipeline is not the answer to lower gas prices.

Earlier this year, TransCanada Corporation requested permission to build a pipeline from the western part of Canada to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. However, Obama denied the request because the path endangered the Ogallala Aquifer in Nebraska, which provides water for much of the Midwest, according to the New York Times.

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a business lobbying organization, the KXL project should create more than 20,000 jobs and provide 830,000 barrels of crude oil every day. Speaker of the House John Boehner faults the president for not pushing domestic production of oil hard enough, according to CBS News, which he said would then decrease current gas prices.

The criticisms sound logical but deserve more attention.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, “76 percent of what we pay for gasoline is determined by world crude oil prices, 12 percent is federal and state taxes.” The price of crude oil is set in the global market, where the president has little influence, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The claim that the project will create 20,000 jobs is simply incorrect. According to a report by Cornell University’s Global Labor Institute, only 2,500-4,650 temporary and non-local construction jobs would be created. The report also states that the jobs will be “temporary in nature and limited to the relatively short duration of pipeline construction without significant long term effect on the surrounding communities.” Though any new job in this economy is welcome, the KXL project isn’t as job abundant as supporters claim.

Contrary to KXL rhetoric, the mere approval of pipeline construction would not affect gas prices. According to the LA Times, industry experts estimate that the project would not provide oil for another decade and that much of the oil would be exported. The only way the pipeline would affect gasoline prices is if it were already in operation and pumping out considerably more than two percent of the world’s supply.

The facts speak for themselves. The current price of gas has nothing to do with the fate of the pipeline, which has become a red herring in this overly politicized debate. Obama cannot be held responsible for what we ultimately pay at the pump.

Joy Camacho is a graduate student studying criminology.

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