If you’ve been following the controversy over the Keystone XL oil pipeline, recent events will either encourage you, disappoint you, or both.
For a market that’s yet to be determined, this much ballyhooed project would transport hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil daily from Canadian tar sands compounds to the U.S. Gulf Coast for refining. What we do know is that the pipeline would dramatically increase the volume of climate change-causing greenhouse gas emissions, erasing what little progress North America has made in reducing its carbon footprint.
The State Department—which has final say in whether Keystone XL gets built—recently admitted as much in a highly publicized (and heavily criticized) preliminary draft of its environmental impact study. State acknowledged the climate-change risks but then argued that rejecting the project wouldn’t reduce the amount of emissions flowing into our atmosphere because Canada would still burn the tar sands and pipeline the oil elsewhere.
Since the State Department report dropped, Republicans and Democrats in both houses of Congress have been pressuring the Obama administration to approve the controversial pipeline, which is four years in the making. Similarly, AFL-CIO, one of the nation’s largest labor unions, all but endorsed the contentious project citing the jobs it would create. A recent budget proposal from Paul Ryan also trumpeted a high level of job creation. (President Obama recently said the jobs numbers have been exaggerated.)
Despite the growing drumbeat of support from oil-connected D.C., Indigenous and First Nation activists from the “Idle No More” movement continue to resist Keystone XL construction. They say the pipeline will destroy ecosystems vital to their treaty rights. Citing environmental justice concerns, Latino and African American activists in Texas have also joined Idle No More in their opposition to the project.
Now, in what may be the final days before the State Department makes an official decision, keep the following labor and environmental justice stats in mind.