Politicians who lack factual data to make their point on an issue often use fallacies as a rhetorical tool, and they can be used purposefully to win arguments because they appeal to emotion and not reason. Devoid of facts to back up their arguments, Republicans have little option but appealing to emotions, but instead of fallacies, they intentionally deliver false statements and the payoff is nearly always not in the public’s best interest. For the past year, the GOP has lied to the American people about the benefits of the Keystone XL pipeline, and as the President and Congress work to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, there is little mystery that Republicans will use the pipeline’s approval as a bargaining chip to give the oil industry greater subsidies even as they attempt to cut their taxes. The President and Democrats could protect the environment and Americans’ health if they informed the people that Canadian tar sand is not coming to America, but through it on its way to China and Europe.
As organizations such as the World Bank, the United Nations, World Meteorological Organization, and an alliance of the world’s largest investors appealed to governments to boost clean-energy investment and ramp up action on climate change, Republicans and some Democrats are pressuring President Obama to approve the Keystone XL pipeline without regard for global warming. Ignoring reports that greenhouse gas levels reached a new record, the pipeline’s proponents concern for big oil’s profits supersede their disregard for the environment and the population’s health. The potential for an ecological disaster is so great that a single spill could have devastating consequences for generations, and a University of Nebraska at Lincoln analysis of the pipeline finds that it could have 91 major spills in 50 years. A tar sands leak in Michigan two years ago has cost taxpayers over $800 million so far, and engineers still are unsure how to clean up tar sand crude that sinks making cleanup all the more difficult; if possible at all.
TransCanada, the pipeline’s owner, has been exposed by a former TransCanada engineer who raised alarms about lax inspections and shoddy work that prompted the Canadian government to send an open letter admonishing TransCanada that an investigation was launched for noncompliance and that future lapses will not be tolerated. Canada’s energy regulator announced a sweeping audit of TransCanada’s operations after a long series of accidents, shutdowns and pipeline safety infractions that plagued the pipeline after TransCanada was forced to shut its leak-prone Keystone I tar sands pipeline down for four days after finding cracks, corrosion and other defects that lead to ruptures. TransCanada has a sordid history as a pipeline operator, but congressional representatives loyal to the oil industry are desperate to approve construction of the pipeline between Canada and Texas to enrich the oil industry.
There are myriad reasons to deny TransCanada’s application to build a certain ecological disaster through the center of the nation, but proponents are ill-inclined to tell the public the truth about Keystone XL. One of the advertised benefits of the pipeline is that it will bring gas prices down, but TransCanada and industry experts agree that Keystone XL tar sands will increase domestic gas prices. When John Boehner touted the pipeline’s construction creating hundreds-of-thousands of jobs, it turned out that TransCanada gave U.S. officials a job number that was 67 times higher than number they used in Canada, and it was revealed that Boehner invested in 7 tar sand companies the previous year leading the SEC to consider an investigation of share price manipulation and to bolster his portfolio’s worth. Besides only creating 2,500 temporary and 50 permanent jobs, industry professionals agree that clean energy jobs far outweigh the potential for temporary dirty oil jobs.
President Obama has been an advocate for reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and emphasized the importance of climate change and renewable energy and he made it a part of his campaign, but approving Keystone XL is a step in the wrong direction. To be fair, there are benefits associated with building the pipeline, but they are the hundreds-of-millions of dollars flowing to oil companies like ConocoPhillips and Valero Energy for selling the refined tar sand to Asia. Every other aspect of the pipeline is a detriment including poisoning a crucial natural resource, Nebraska’s Ogallala Aquifer, which is the country’s largest source of freshwater for drinking and irrigation for millions of Americans throughout the country. Add to that the devastation to agriculture, and besides dehydrating millions of Americans, the food supply would be adversely impacted for decades, if not longer.
The task for President Obama is incredibly easy, and he can garner major support for denying TransCanada a permit to begin construction of the pipeline if he dispenses with rhetoric and tells the American people there is no value in building the pipeline. Americans will hardly support jeopardizing precious clean drinking water and a stable food supply if they realize that the pipeline will exist to enrich a couple of oil companies, Speaker of the House John Boehner, and provide a steady supply of gasoline to China.