The permitting and construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline has become a controversial political issue, and its passage is the top priority of the Republican leadership in the Congress ("The Republican agenda," Jan. 5).
As a scientist and engineer, I have yet to see any persuasive evidence that its construction and operation will yield any economic or environmental benefits to the U.S.
The pipeline is intended to convey oil extracted and liquefied from tar sands in Canada and conveyed through the U.S. for export to foreign markets. None of the product is intended for our domestic market. The result will be cheaper oil in other countries that will then be less likely to import U.S. oil, damaging our export trade.
Oil pipelines are notoriously prone to leaks that can cause significant environmental damage. So we have here a project where the benefits are shipped overseas and the risk of environmental damage is retained in the U.S. Not exactly a good deal for us. To add insult to injury, the extraction and liquefaction of oil from tar sands generates large amounts of greenhouse gas, greatly adding to the threat to us and the entire planet from climate change.
As to job creation, there no doubt will be several thousand construction jobs created over the period of the pipeline construction, lasting perhaps two or three years. After that, the operation of the pipeline will require perhaps only several hundred of workers. All in all, this doesn't look like a deal that merits our support.
Jack Kinstlinger, Towson