The Vermont Cynic

Why we need Keystone XL


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In the waning hours of Nov. 4, it became clear that a runoff election would be needed to determine who would report to Capitol Hill for the upcoming term as the Senator from Louisiana. The current Sen.

Mary Landrieu came up with a simple solution: get the Keystone XL pipeline to be approved by the Democrat-controlled Senate in time to save her seat.

For the first time in a long time, it appears as though Democrats and Republicans are working together.

However, this plan has been met with steady citizen opposition. To nobody’s surprise, there exists a very vocal lobby that opposes the pipeline, and luckily for us they have an active chapter on this campus.

Now, while they readily reiterate that building the pipeline will cause environmental harm on the scale of the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs, I would like to point out a handful of reasons that explain why the pipeline is a good idea.

First, the construction and maintenance of the pipeline itself would have a positive impact, creating many jobs in the U.S.

The pipeline is designed to stretch from Alberta, Canada to Louisiana, a distance of approximately 1,200 miles. Building the pipeline would require a force of approximately 42,000 workers spanning across a variety of professions.

Estimates suggest that their combined earnings would reach $2 billion.  Additionally, the construction of the pipeline would result in permanent job creation.

The pipeline would directly create 500,000 jobs by 2035, according to the Canadian Energy Research Institute. Simply put, building the pipeline is good for both short- and long-term job creation in the eight states that it would run through.

Equally important is the fact that the pipeline constitutes the safest way to ship the crude oil to the refineries used in Louisiana. We all know what happened when the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound.

Similarly, we all remember when the Lac-Mégantic train derailed in Quebec in 2013. In short, the pipeline is safer than both of those options.

Furthermore, it is the most environmentally conscious way to ship crude oil. While water and rail transportation require large amounts of fossil fuels, the Keystone XL pipeline would not come close to needing the same amount of resources.

However, the most important point surrounding the pipeline is not what it will do, but rather what failing to ratify it wouldn’t accomplish. Even if the U.S. Congress does not pass a bill, TransCanada will continue to extract oil from the tar sands.

Not only is the extraction good for investors, but it also has a massive positive impact on the local and regional economies. Over the next 25 years, Albertans are expected to collect approximately $350 billion in royalties and $122 billion in taxes. 

Furthermore, the energy sector in Alberta accounts for 22 percent of the regional GDP.

The GDP has been increasing over the past decade as Alberta slowly becomes a Canadian leader in finance, manufacturing and insurance. 

The development of the tar sands has been the driving force behind this, and it’s hard, if not impossible, to see this being purposefully ended. So strap on your seatbelts UVM, and get ready for safer shipping practices and lower gas prices. Happy driving.

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The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883
Why we need Keystone XL