Keystone Pipeline is not the answer

Gas Pipeline

by Anthony Giancatarino

The policy debate over the Keystone Pipeline is continuing to look more like an episode of the Keystone Cops. Unfortunately, the pipeline is no joke. And if it gets built, we will not be laughing.

We desperately need jobs in America. Many are supporting the Pipeline as a job creation strategy, even President Obama who endorsed a partial expansion of the Pipeline this week. But studies have shown that the pipeline will not be a major source for jobs in the US. At best, these jobs will be temporary with about 2,500-4,650 temporary direct construction jobs for two years. Additionally, there is strong evidence to suggest that a large portion of the primary material input for the Keystone Pipeline—steel pipe—will not even be produced in the United States.

Further, it is unclear who will actually benefit from these jobs , as past TransCanada projects did not use local labor, or provide fair wages. However, what is clear is that we will get: dirty water, destroyed habitats, and more greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.

For sure, we need real solutions for people who need jobs and a system that ensures we have the energy we need to power our future. But we also need solutions that we can live with, so that we aren’t making our people and our environment sick.

It’s possible.

Communities across the country are already showing us that community-based solutions like geothermal, wind and solar are not “pipe dreams.” They are achievable right now.

But for renewable solutions to make real impact, we need an “all hands on deck” approach, where everyone is part of the solution, especially communities of color – the fastest growing population in the United States. These communities are critical innovators and valuable assets in a renewable energy economy.

Today, groups like, Sierra Club, NRDC, and Tar Sands Action are fighting against dirty energy that will quicken the pace of climate change. This is critical work. But we also need to work toward solutions that will help us build a green energy future that is inclusive of everyone.

If we start creating policies that transform our renewable energy policy from one of exclusion to inclusion, from dirty oil to renewable resources, we can start building a true energy democracy today.

We can:

  • Expand production tax credits to support renewable energy projects in local communities.
  • Create Energy Improvement Districts (EIDs), which would designate tracts of land as special areas for rezoning to support green energy initiatives
  • Support Sustainable Energy Utilities (SEUs), which would provide up-front costs for renewable energy projects in credit-starved communities.

Read about these policies in our new report: Energy Democracy: Supporting Community Innovation.

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The Race to Democracy Blog is the news, analysis, and media center for the Center for Social Inclusion (CSI). CSI is a national policy strategy organization that works to transform structural inequity into structural fairness and inclusion. We work with community groups and national organizations to develop policy ideas, foster effective leadership, and develop communications tools for an opportunity-rich world in which we all will thrive.

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