The OC Register’s editorial pages continue to promote the free market approach to everything and carried this editorial on the vast reserves of domestic fossil fuel in North America which surpasses the oil reserves in the Middle East.
According to the editorial:
The nonprofit Institute for Energy Research says there are more than 1.7 trillion barrels of recoverable oil in North America, compared with Saudi Arabia’s 260 billion barrels. “This is more than the world has used since the first oil well was drilled over 150 years ago,” says the institute’s report, North American Energy Inventory. U.S. reserves alone could provide the domestic need of 7 billion barrels a year for about 250 years.
The editorial goes on to blame the federal government for failing to use these domestic energy reserves while promoting expensive clean/green energy alternatives and uses the failure of Solyndra as an example. But blaming the failure of one company in a promising industry as an excuse to dismiss the entire industry defies logic. Yes, Solyndra failed but there are hundreds of success stories in the Clean and Green energy industry that will eventually create high paying jobs here in the US while breaking our reliance on foreign energy sources.
But a little digging into the Institute for Energy Research reveals a connection to Koch Industries, and the Koch brothers, those people who helped fund the Tea Party in 2010. The Wikipedia website says this of IER:
The IER maintains that freely-functioning energy markets provide the most financially inexpensive solutions to today’s global energy and environmental challenges and, as such, are critical to the financial well-being of individuals and society. The IER was founded in 1989 from a predecessor organization. The IER conducts research and analysis on the functions, operations, and government regulation of global energy markets. The group promotes free-market energy solutions.
IER is a tax-exempt public foundation and is funded entirely by tax deductible contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations. No financial support is sought for or accepted from the government. According to the liberal watchdog group, Media Matters, since 1996, $110,000 of IER’s funding has come from the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, a trust set up by private energy company Koch Industries. IER also received over $300,000 in funding from ExxonMobil, but has not given to IER since 2007.
The Institute’s CEO, Robert L. Bradley, Jr., was formerly a director of policy analysis at Enron, where he wrote speeches for Kenneth Lay. Robert Bradley has written books with titles like, “Capitalism at Work” and “Edison to Enron.”
Back to the Register’s editorial for a second: “As we went to press, the president faced a decision on signing Congress’ latest temporary spending bill, which House Republicans promised will include authorization for quick construction of the 1,700-mile XL Keystone oil pipeline from Canada to Texas. He had vowed to veto the bill, rather than expedite the pipeline.”
Hmmm. The HuffingtonPost reports that Koch Industries has a vested interest in the development of the XL Keystone pipeline. A concern for residents in the construction zone is the danger to the water supply that provides fresh water to millions of people in several states in the event of a pipeline leak.
From the HuffPo story: “Everything the Kochs touched — from disbanding the federal reserve and resurrecting the gold standard, to repealing the 14th amendment had been featured in the mainstream media — except for one small item: the proposed TransCanada Pipeline. Hidden from public sight like an illegitimate pregnancy on the Brady Bunch, the tar sands pipeline is in the process of gaining regulatory approval from the US government.
Project developer TransCanada seeks approval from US government agencies to build the new ‘tar sands’ pipeline from Alberta, Canada through the midwest United States to Texas as part of a proposed fossil fuel super-highway.
Koch Industries would be a big winner if this pipeline is approved. Presently, Koch imports to the U.S. close to 25% of all oil sands crude. Koch Industries includes a facility in Calgary, Alberta called the Flint Hills Resources Canada LP, which supplies roughly 250,000 barrels of tar sands crude daily to the ‘heavy oil’ refinery Koch owns in Minnesota. Additionally, Flint Hills operates a ‘crude oil terminal’ situated right at the Keystone XL Pipeline starting point in Hardisty, Alberta.
The Koch brothers have been busy — and thanks to the Citizens United decision, are able to flood political campaigns with unlimited cash. The Los Angeles Times reported that Koch Industries and its ’employees’ constituted the largest single donor to members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, including the coffers of Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the new committee chair.
Better known as the Keystone XL — this project would travel through multiple states including the midwest ‘bread-belt’ — slicing through the northeastern quadrant of the Ogallala aquifer in Nebraska. The plan is to build that section of the Keystone UNDER the aquifer. TransCanada is confident that history won’t repeat itself and the Keystone won’t suffer the same fate as the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster of last year. The stakes are high — as the Ogallala aquifer is considered one of the largest sources of fresh groundwater on Earth — cutting through eight midwestern states.
Additionally, various parts of Ogallala in Nebraska are part of an active earthquake zone — with the last quake reported at 4.3 magnitude in 2002. It gets worse — a report from the Nebraska Wildlife Federation cited the fact that …”some portions of the aquifer are so close to the surface that ANY pipeline leak would almost immediately contaminate a large portion of the water.”
Republicans in favor of the XL Keystone pipeline are touting the jobs it will create, but other data suggest these claims are overstated. Actor/director and environmental activist Robert Redford, in this HuffingtonPost post, lays out the facts that the jobs the XL Keystone might create are also a bit of a pipedream.
Is there anything more cynical, then, than Big Oil and its Washington allies playing on heartland hardship by pretending a dangerous tar sands pipeline can put folks back to work?
That’s precisely what continues to happen over the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. It would carry the dirtiest oil on the planet from the Canadian tar sands across our country to ports and refineries along the Texas Gulf coast. From there it could be exported anywhere in the world.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) became the latest source of misinformation on this. He said Thursday that the Keystone XL “will put tens of thousands of Americans to work immediately.”
That’s just not true.
The project would provide, at most, 6,000 temporary construction jobs, very few of which would be local hires, according to an analysis performed by the U.S. State Department.
“The construction work force would consist of approximately 5,000 to 6,000 workers, including Keystone employees, contractor employees, and construction and environmental inspection staff,” the State Department concluded in the executive summary of the final Environmental Impact Statement it published in August. Even that may be pushing it.
Cornell University’s Global Labor Institute did its own evaluation, concluding that the project would employ between 2,500 and 4,650 construction workers. “Most jobs created will be temporary and non-local,” the institute concluded in its report, appropriately titled, “Pipe Dreams?”
Local hires hover below 15 percent, the institute calculated, based on data provide by TransCanada, as much of this work requires special skills and the workers capable of performing sophisticated pipeline tasks would likely be brought in from outside the region.
“KXL will not be a major source of U.S. jobs, nor will it play any substantial role at all in putting Americans back to work,” the Cornell report states.
Even TransCanada, the Canadian pipeline company that wants to build the pipeline, has said it would create “hundreds” of permanent jobs. That’s what TransCanada’s vice president for pipelines, Robert Jones, told CNN a few weeks ago.
Overall, Cornell economists found the project would be a job killer, because it would kick down the road the investment we need to drive renewable energy and efficiency gains. That’s where the real jobs are: jobs for carpenters weatherizing homes in Ohio, steelworkers building wind turbines in Indiana, tool and die makers manufacturing parts for electric cars in Michigan, and on and on from coast to coast. And these are the careers of the future for the workers of tomorrow, in trades and professions that already employ some 2.7 million Americans.
It all sort of goes back to the notion of “follow the money.” And in the case of the Register editorial, domestic energy production at the expense of the environment should have taken a closer look at where the statistic came from.