AUGUSTA — A pending legislative resolution to bring the Keystone XL pipeline to Maine is based on the false premise it would create jobs and reduce the price of gasoline here.
Rather, the resolution, prepared by Republican state Sen. Jon Courtney, would help an industry that gets $4 billion in public subsidies, threatens landowner rights, degrades Maine’s precious environment and diverts investment from homegrown energy sources, state Sen. Cynthia Dill said.
“From the impact on Maine property owners, to the environmental degradation from continued dependence on fossil fuels, to the lack of proof of job creation for Maine people, I have deep concern that the state’s lawmaking body is being used further the agenda of multinational oil interests instead of Maine consumers,” said Dill, a leading progressive in the race to succeed U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe. “I will not co-sponsor or support this resolution.
“The project carries no demonstrated economic benefit to Maine,” she said.
Keystone XL is a proposal by TransCanada Corp. to transport crude oil from western Canada to refineries and export terminals in the United States. The president recently announced support for a limited portion of the pipeline that would move U.S.-produced crude oil, not oil from Canadian tar sands, to the Gulf of Mexico.
Courtney’s resolution claims the project would create 120,000 jobs nationwide, but doesn’t back that claim or provide detail on how many jobs would be created here. It also makes the false assumption that moving oil derived from Canada to the U.S. would cut oil prices, which are determined by a multitude of factors.
Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows Americans’ use of fossil fuels has been steadily dropping — from 21 million barrels a day in 2007 to approximately 18 million barrels a day at the end of last year — due to numerous factors, including the recession, greater efficiency and the availability of new, technologically advanced alternatives. In 2011, the country imported 45% of the liquid fuels it used, down from a record 60% in 2005.
Meanwhile, a Cornell University study concluded the project could cost more jobs than it produces. This includes jobs lost due to consumers in the Midwest paying 10 to 20 cents more per gallon of gasoline and diesel, as Keystone XL diverts oil from Midwest refineries.
Lara Skinner, associate director of research at the Cornell Global Labor Institute, said: “The company’s claim that Keystone XL will create 20,000 direct construction and manufacturing jobs in the U.S. is unsubstantiated. There is strong evidence to suggest that a large portion of the primary material input for KXL – steel pipe — will not even be produced in the U.S.”
Dill noted TransCanada has lodged 55 eminent-domain actions against landowners in Texas and South Dakota. “Republicans who usually defend the private property rights are turning their back on Maine’s small landowners who don’t want this in their backyards,” she said.
Enbridge Inc., a major oil producer backing the project, is responsible for hundreds of oil spills in the last decade, including one in Michigan’s Kalamazoo River in 2010 that released 840,000 gallons of sludge. The pipeline would cross several Maine rivers, including the Androscoggin; pass next to Sebago Lake, the source of drinking water for 15% of Maine; and end in Casco Bay, threatening our beloved coast and our fishing and lobster industries.
Dill said Maine generates a larger share of its electricity from non-hydroelectric renewable resources than any other state, and has the highest wood and wood waste power generation capacity in the country. “We can look closer to home for energy solutions that provide Mainers with real energy security and real jobs,” she said. “In fact, with wind, tidal, biomass and hydro, Maine can be a net energy exporter that helps us grow our economy.”
Dill said the project is being heavily lobbied in state legislatures across the country by Koch Industries and the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council.
“I don’t believe Maine needs more crude oil, or an expensive, potentially flawed delivery system to move it through Maine on its way to foreign markets,” Dill said. “Where is the benefit to Mainers from that?
“Maine legislators should be focused on improving Maine’s economy and environment,” Dill said. “With only a few weeks left in this session and huge state issues to resolve, why are we wasting time on corporate-backed matters outside our realm? Let’s do things that benefit Maine consumers, not the Koch Brothers or ALEC.”
Dill asked her supporters to call or write their representatives in the Maine Legislature to express their opposition to the Keystone resolution.
To view the resolution, click here.