President Obama should veto Keystone Pipeline XL

The Senate voted 62-36 this week to build the Keystone XL pipeline. The vote represents a big victory for the Republican-run Senate, which was able to gain support from nine Democrats. The bill now heads to the House, where a similar bill passed just last year.

While the Senate bill has several new provisions, it is widely believed that House will pass the bill as quickly as possible in an attempt to pressure President Barack Obama. With these most recent developments, Obama should stand strong against Congress and veto the pipeline.

The main reason that the bill has gained so much support from Republicans is that the pipeline will create jobs. We've heard this ever since the debate began; however this claim is not entirely true. While the pipeline would create the 42,100 jobs during the two-year construction period, the number of permanent jobs created is much lower than expected.

According to most sources, only 35 to 50 permanent workers will be required to run the pipeline. There are higher estimates floating around Washington, D.C., and several Internet sites, but the problem with these supposed numbers is that they are based on the price of oil and gas. With the oil prices at the lowest they've been in years, several of the largest oil companies have had to cut down on costs with Suncor oil cutting 1,000 contract job and Shell Canada being forced to cut its work force by 10 percent. While the initial job growth created by the pipeline would be good for the economy, the current plan is incredibly hind sighted when it comes to permanent and consistent job growth.

The other common argument for the Keystone Pipeline is that the environmental impact would be minimal. Just like the claim that the pipeline will create jobs, this claim is based off the best possible circumstances. Not only that but it ignores several important facts. In the State Department report, the pipeline is estimated to increase greenhouse gas emissions by 1.3 million to 27.4 million metric tons annually. However, according to a newer study the carbon emissions caused by the pipeline could be four times higher than the estimates done by the State Department. Not only would the pipeline not substantially increase job growth, it would also go against the U.S. plan to decrease emissions.

The debate over the Keystone XL pipeline has been going on since 2008. In those seven years a lot of the debate has been lost to political fighting. The topic has shifted to whether you vote conservative or liberal.

Instead of focusing on who is voting on what, the president should only focus on the facts in front of him, that the Keystone pipeline is not the dream solution that the Republicans have made it out to be. Instead, it is a quick solution to building many short-term jobs but very few long-term ones. And beyond just the simple economics of the plan, it continues to build upon a long outdated infrastructure based on limited resources. Obama should veto the pipeline and instead explore a more long-term energy plan.

Reach the columnist at Alec.Grafil@asu.edu or follow @AlecGrafil on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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