Canceling Keystone Does More Environmental Harm than Good | Opinion

In President Joe Biden's first week in office, with little more than the stroke of his pen, he took steps to revoke the permit of the Keystone XL pipeline. Of course, this policy doesn't significantly protect the environment—the oil will still be transported—it was a virtue signal to climate change activists.

President Biden has been on the record stating that he wants to end fracking, as well as drilling and exploration for oil and natural gas. What Biden knows, but probably doesn't care about, is that we actually need oil for most things in our daily lives. Things that may actually surprise you.

We need oil to make affordable clothes, cleaning products, soap, toothbrushes, shampoo, perfumes, nail polish, furniture, footballs, computers, cell phones, fertilizers, insecticides, car seats, heart valves, aspirin—even the plexiglass dividers that Biden wants restaurants to put up to maintain social distancing.

Crude oil, or oil in its unrefined state, is toxic to humans and animals, and destructive to the environment when spilled on land or in bodies of water. After crude oil is obtained, it must be transported safely and carefully to refineries to be chemically processed so that it can be used. It can be easily transported in one of three ways: by truck, by train or by pipeline.

Truck transportation accounts for just under 30 percent of transport emissions. It has a higher fatality rate than any other mode of transportation, and the average spill volume of petroleum shipped by trucks is 13,707 gallons per billion ton-miles. In 2013, the Association of American Railroads found that the rate of hazardous-material spills by railroad is about 2.7 times higher than by pipelines. That same year, an oil train from North Dakota derailed and exploded in Alabama, spilling an estimated 749,000 gallons onto land. That was just one of several rail incidents over the last decade.

Though no mode of oil transport is perfect, pipelines have proven to be the safest and most environmentally friendly way to carry oil. More than 80 percent of pipeline accidents don't happen in the actual pipe, but in facilities. According to the Fraser Institute, from 2003 to 2013, 99 percent of such accidents did not damage the environment.

Keystone protest
Opponents of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines hold a rally as they protest US President Donald Trump's executive orders advancing their construction, at Lafayette Park next to the White House in Washington, DC, on January 24, 2017. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty

The Keystone XL Pipeline project was proposed to transport crude oil to refineries in the American Midwest and along the Gulf Coast. The pipeline would have created 60,000 direct and indirect jobs, generated $1.6 billion in gross wages, and would have been the safest and fastest way to transport hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil per day from Alberta to the U.S while only contributing to 0.3 percent of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions.

Canada's energy regulator has projected that the production of crude oil will steadily increase between now and 2040, with or without the completion of Keystone XL. This means that without the pipeline, railroad capacity will grow, safety will decline, environmental impact will worsen and economic costs will be higher.

In response to the job loss, the Biden administration contends that a shift from carbon to green energy would create better-paying jobs, but did not clarify what the necessary qualifications for these jobs would be, or even when they would be created. In the meantime, White House climate czar John Kerry flippantly suggested that the laid-off oil workers should make solar panels, most of which are already made in China. Even Washington Post fact checkers called out how ridiculous this argument is—there aren't nearly enough solar jobs to replace those that would be lost, nor do they pay as well.

Even some of Biden's most ardent backers, including the president of the AFL-CIO labor union, Richard Trumka, criticized the move, saying it would kill thousands of union jobs. Is disrespecting hard-working Americans by destroying their livelihoods "unifying?" Does Biden have a reasonable explanation for revoking Keystone's permit other than pandering to job-killing ideologues masquerading as climate change warriors? Has he acknowledged the "science" or the data behind this move, or was it truly the giant virtue signal it appears to be?

The truth is, most politicians don't care about or acknowledge the effects of their decisions because they don't have to suffer the consequences. After all, it's not their job that just got eliminated. It's not their family who might default on a mortgage. They just know that if they can pander to the right voters, they can stay in power. It seems that President Biden doesn't want to acknowledge the loss of American jobs, the wellbeing of American families, or what's actually safe for workers and the environment.

So far, Biden has reigned by executive fiat, fawning for the favor of those too ignorant or too blinded by their activism to see the real-world impact of his disastrous policies. If the Biden administration's small sample size is any indication, we'll only see more of the same progressive job-killing edicts from "moderate" Joe.

Charlie Kirk is the founder and president of Turning Point USA and host of the nationally syndicated radio show and podcast, The Charlie Kirk Show.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.