Monday, December 12, 2011

Keystone Tar Sands Pipeline: an analysis by Louise Stonington

What you need to know about the Keystone Tar Sands Pipeline, by Louise Stonington

First, there is a matter of belief involved here, a belief that American ingenuity, industry, and entrepreneurship can lead the world to a better life.
Global investment in renewable power and fuels increased 32% between 2009 and 2010 according to Renewable Energy World. Solar and wind energy industries are now competitive and able to provide electricity at the same cost as electricity from conventional electric plants in many regions, according to Bloomberg New Energy Reports. The price of solar modules has dropped almost 60% since 2008.
Oil will only get more expensive. The light sweet crude that was easy to pump out and cheap to refine is gone. Instead we are digging up sandy soil and boiling it with water and separating out the oil from mountains of sludge. With a very low energy return on investment, making tar sands and shale oil more expensive, this should not be the basis of American energy.
All solar, wind and geothermal need is to scale up, and they will be so much less expensive that the tar sands and shale oil will not be able to compete. Look at the speed with which cell phones and computers have developed. Clean energy will do the same. Efficiency technology and processes can reduce US energy needs by a third, simplifying the transition.
A Brookings study in July 2011 shows that “the clean economy employs more workers than the fossil fuel industry.” The clean economy added half a million jobs between 2003 and 2010.” More of those jobs are in manufacturing, 25% versus 10% of jobs in the economy as a whole.
In its last project, Keystone only employed 15% locally. The State Department estimates that 6000 temporary jobs may be created, so the local jobs offered may be as low as 900. Investment in turbine and solar PV factories would employ many more people in long term jobs.
China is buying up oil reserves around the world, and also importing coal. The more the US subsidizes and permits oil and coal development, the more value we give to China. If instead, we develop American manufactured solar, wind, geothermal, battery and other alternative technology, we will reduce the value of their fuel holdings and sell them competitive export products that they can use to meet their energy needs without burning oil or coal.
As long as we continue to pay over $300 billion a year for foreign oil, that money is not working for America. That is why the pipeline should be opposed.
As for the environmentalists, the evidence is very strong that carbon emissions from burning coal oil and gas was a factor in the continuing increase in record breaking extreme weather event, $60 billion damages in the US this year from tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, droughts and fires. In addition, acid from carbon dioxide in the oceans is threatening the seafood industry.
A Center for Naval Analyses report, describes America's reliance on imported oil as a “significant national security threat.” Let’s have American business step up to the plate and win this one.
Climate Capitalism by Hunter Lovins
Making Healthy Places by Andrew Dannenberg
Sustainable Industries, the Business Source for Leaders of the New Economy