Skip to content

The Myth of Keystone Jobs Must Give Way To Real Job Opportunities For Canadians & Americans

2012/01/19

Press Release from Citizens Climate Lobby Canada in response to President Obama’s decision yesterday on the Keystone XL Pipeline:

President Obama made the right decision in rejecting approval for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. The constraints imposed by Congress gave insufficient time for a thorough, unbiased review of the pipeline’s environmental impact.

In saying “no” to Keystone, however, Obama now opens himself to election-year attacks from political opponents who frame the pipeline as a jobs issue. Such attacks should be rigorously challenged.

Canadians should be looking closely at climate, energy policy and job creation in the United States because 70% of Canada’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is dependent on trade and the US is our number one trading partner.  Additionally, our federal government is line with current U.S. policies such as rejecting the Kyoto Protocol, adopting the weak Copenhagen Accord and sector-by-sector regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.

Upon closer examination, Keystone XL and Northern Gateway Pipeline are hardly the jobs juggernaut their proponents portray them to be. An executive from TransCanada, builder of the KXL pipeline, admits that permanent jobs in the U.S. would number in the hundreds, not the tens of thousands claimed by supporters. Temporary construction jobs, lasting less than two years, would number between 2,500 and 4,650, according to a study from Cornell University.

Another talking point that should be quickly dismissed is the idea that the making the U.S. less dependent on Middle East Oil, touted by some as ‘unethical oil’. The reason for building Keystone XL is so that bitumen oil from the tar sands of Alberta can be piped to the Gulf of Mexico, loaded onto tankers and shipped to markets overseas. Oil is a global commodity, sold not to whom is deemed ‘ethical’ but the highest bidder. Additionally, the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation is impacted negatively by the unmitigated development of the tar sands. How ethical is this situation for Canada?

If we truly wish to create jobs and have ethical energy for everyone, we must move in a new direction. The International Energy Agency’s 2011 World Energy Outlook stated clearly that the world is at risk of dangerous climate change if low carbon fuels are not rapidly adopted; Canada must transition to an economy that relies less on fossil fuels and more on clean, renewable energy.

Canada can accelerate that transition, and create millions of new jobs and contract opportunities, by putting a price on carbon that shifts massive amounts of investment to clean energy and energy efficiency. The Climate Lobby Canada is working in close partnership with its sister organization in the U.S. because of their countries’ close trade relationship.

How can we put a price on carbon without stifling our economies? Simple: by returning revenue from a carbon tax to citizens in our respective countries. The U.S. has already taken a big step in that direction.

The Save Our Climate Act (H.R. 3242) places a tax on carbon-based fuels – oil, coal and gas – at the first point of sale. The tax, starting at $10 per ton of carbon dioxide, would rise by $10 per ton each year, eventually making clean energy cheaper than fossil fuels. The impact would be immediate, sending a clear, predictable price signal that guarantees investors will make greater profits in solar and wind than in coal and oil. This market-base incentive places less dependence on government subsidies for energy.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA), would also protect American businesses from foreign competitors by imposing tariffs on goods from nations that do not have equivalent carbon-pricing mechanisms. If Canada follows suit, our businesses too would be protected.

It’s time to transform proposal into reality and give serious consideration to H.R. 3242. In creating the incentive for the free market to make the shift to clean energy, we can create the jobs Canadians and Americans need, improve national security, and preserve a livable world for generations to come.

Facts On The Green Economy

Clean energy and energy efficiency are producing jobs at a robust pace, which will only accelerate with a price on carbon:

  • The Solar Foundation reports more than 100,000 Americans are working in U.S. solar industry. Solar businesses added 6,735 new workers in the past year, a 6.8 percent growth rate, while the overall economy grew at a mere 0.7 percent. In Germany, the renewable energy industry continues to be a growing source of jobs, with 370,000 people employed in that sector in 2010, roughly eight per cent more than in 2009, and more than double its 2004 numbers (source: Pembina Institute).
  •  The Brookings Institution recently reported that the ‘Green Economy’ now accounts for 2.7 million jobs. These jobs pay 20 percent more than the national average. The Brookings report said the clean-tech sector – wind, solar and other emerging technologies – experienced job growth at twice the rate of the national average.
  •  The U.S. wind power industry installed 1,100 MW of new capacity in the first quarter of 2011 alone and entered the second quarter with another 5,600 MW under construction, according to a report by the American Wind Energy Association. The under-construction figure is nearly twice the megawatts that the industry reported at this time in both 2009 and 2010.
  •   A recent Pembina Institute analysis found that all renewable energy technology, including energy efficiency, currently generates three to 10 times the number of jobs per hour of energy generated than fossil fuels or nuclear.

THE SCIENCE

  • On May 12, the National Research Council reported that “the significant risks that climate change poses to human society and the environment provide a strong motivation to move ahead with substantial response efforts.”
  • Dr. Richard Muller, UC Berkeley physicist and well-known climate science skeptic has released the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature study, confirming the existence of global warming.
  • From the Vatican, a new report from the Pontifical Academy of Sciences recommends that we “reduce worldwide carbon dioxide emissions without delay, using all means possible to meet ambitious international global warming targets.”

THE ECONOMICS

While some critics claim that putting a price on carbon will hurt the economy and kill jobs, quite the opposite is true. “Building a Green Economy,” a report from Citizens Climate Lobby, shows that the shift away from fossil fuels will produce more jobs and stimulate the economy.

A report from the Brookings Institutions, “Sizing the Green Economy,” looks at the economic potential of the clean tech sector.

THE LEGISLATION

The Province of British Columbia placed a price on carbon in 2008 and has experienced economic growth since then.

U.S. Rep. Pete Stark’s Save Our Climate Act puts a steadily-increasing tax on carbon.

  • FAQs on the Save Our Climate Act.
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: