Mike McDowell, general manager of Heartland Consumer Power District and my state senator's boss, parrots the corporate line that the TransCanada Keystone pipelines are "good for South Dakota and good for America." McDowell waves dollars and the Hugo Chavez boogeyman in our faces while failing to acknowledge that...
- South Dakotans don't get many jobs from TransCanada;
- Any jobs we get will be offset by jobs Canadians lose: refining jobs move south of the border, and the Canadian oil boom inflates the loonie, hurts Canadian exports, and kills Canadian manufacturing jobs (400,000 lost over the last decade);
- China is buying most of TransCanada's tar sands oil;
- TransCanada acts just as dictatorially and socialistically as Chavez in running roughshod over American landowners with eminent domain;
- Decent American businesses like Walgreens are boycotting the tar sands oil TransCanada wants to sell us;
- TransCanada still wants to build Keystone XL with thinner pipe with steel from Welspun, a company that supplied lots of defective steel to other pipelines;
- Refiners say the tar sands pipeline system is unnecessary;
- We could fully replace the capacity of both Keystone pipelines by fully recycling our motor oil (something I learned from McDowell himself);
- Tar sands oil production and transportation threatens our prairie aquifers through industrial consumption and pollution (see also the Enbridge spill in Michigan);
- Tar sands oil kills ducks (many more than industry data suggest).. and maybe First Nations people.
As McDowell says, the TransCanada pipeline is a big deal... a big bad deal for South Dakotans, for Americans, for Canadians, and for the First Nations people who have to live with the environmental destruction wrought by the tar sands oil a few corporate mouthpieces pretend is so wonderful.
Bonus economic query: McDowell contends that the electricity demands of the Keystone pipelines and pumping stations will strengthen our rural electric cooperatives. But co-ops have to build more infrastructure and generation capacity to handle TransCanada's power demands. Ratepayers and taxpayers are subsidizing some of that construction. Once all that new capacity is installed, TransCanada's electric bills should pay back the investment but if the volatile oil market dips, local ratepayers may end up paying for it. And if TransCanada uses all that power, doesn't that mean the rural electric co-ops will be pushed to peak demand more often, have to use more expensive peak generation, and thus send us all higher electric bills?
But don't worry. As Great Plains Tar Sands Pipelines notes, TransCanada will respond quickly to any spill... if it's not stormy out. And we have keen government oversight from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration... which is run by a former oil company lawyer.