Originally published in La Plaza Press
By ISAAC MEJIA
Paying for gas is a common task for the average American. As teenagers acquire their license, paying for gas will become a major part of their driving experience and journey to becoming an independent adult; likewise, they will also have to deal with inflating gas prices that will drain their pockets dry. In order for the United States to keep gas prices low, the country needs to import and produce oil, a source of energy, at a low price.
In 2017 Former President Donald J. Trump approved the completion of the Keystone Pipeline which served as a possible solution to supply the United States with its energy needs. However, because the construction of the Keystone Pipeline could threaten environmental health, many environmentalists and legislatures have opposed its construction.
What is the Keystone Pipeline?
The Keystone Pipeline is a pipeline designed to carry tar sand oil from Canada, throughout the United States, and into Texas. It would transport oil more efficiently and less expensively to the U.S. than by railroad or truck.
According to Pbs, if completed “the pipeline would transport up to 83,000 barrels of oil (35 million gallons) per day” to refineries on the Gulf of Texas. By contributing to already existing oil reservoirs, the pipeline would help the U.S. maintain a steady supply of oil. Maintaining a steady supply of this resource is crucial in keeping the price of gas stable.
According to Kenneth Carpenter, the Citrus Valley High School Advanced Placement Economics teacher, “The price of most goods is heavily influenced by the cost of production, which includes resources used in that production, in this case crude oil used to make gasoline.” Although it is not definitive, Mr. Carpenter states that it is theoretically possible that “increasing the supply of oil can in turn reduce the price of oil, which can reduce the cost of producing gasoline, which could translate to lower gas prices for consumers.”
However, on his first day in office, President Biden signed an executive order that revokes the permits for the construction of the Keystone Pipeline. Biden revoked the permits on the basis that pipeline construction is harmful to the environment.
The Keystone Pipeline would transfer tar sand oil which is very acidic and coercive. Because of its properties, there is a greater likelihood of oil leaking from the pipeline. According to NDRC an original pipeline incident in “North Dakota sent a 60-foot, 21,000-gallon geyser of tar sands oil spewing into the air.” Pipeline leaks do occur, and potential leaks expose many agricultural assets that the pipeline would run across to toxic chemicals.
In addition to concerns over oil leaks, the completion of the pipeline would result in more oil mining. The increased production of oil will lead to greater greenhouse gas emissions which essentially undermines the many procedures in place to diminish global warming.
According to Jason Rice, the AP Environmental teacher at Redlands East Valley High School, “There has always been a greenhouse layer of gases; without this layer we would have a planet that would be too cold for most life forms. The problem today is that we have record levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. As the layer of gases thickens, it becomes more effective at trapping heat and is now causing oceans to rise in temperature which is leading to death of coral reefs.”
As stated by NDRC, the number of emissions that would be produced if the pipeline was completed is equivalent to “38.5 million passenger vehicles or 45.8 coal-fired power plants.” The additional amount of gas emissions could jeopardize climate security and leave it in a vulnerable position.
However, there is another important factor that needs to be taken into consideration… Jobs. TC Energy, a Canadian company that owns the pipeline, “estimated that 1,000 people” will directly lose their jobs from Biden’s executive order. The company also specified that “the total number of American union workers constructing Keystone XL in 2021 will exceed 8,000 and $900 million in gross wages.” They further stated that “in total, Keystone XL is expected to employ more than 11,000 Americans in 2021, creating more than $1.6 billion in gross wages.”
Since Biden’s executive order stopped the pipeline’s assembly, several blue-collar workers are denied employment opportunities; opportunities that are financially beneficial and invaluable to sustaining their financial status. The harsh reality for many workers facing unemployment is that a lost job causes a loss of monthly income. This is another difficulty that must be resolved if they are going to support themselves and provide for their families.
Since the global pandemic, unemployment rates have increased dramatically reaching 14% in April of 2020. Although those numbers have decreased, it is still pivotal for Americans that are struggling to make ends meet that jobs are created not destroyed; however, Biden’s executive order is responsible for doing the opposite.
Ultimately, now that the Keystone Pipeline is no longer under development, economic issues such as gas prices and unemployment still negatively affect the nation’s citizens. As President Biden continues to remain steadfast in his agenda to minimize environmental safety hazards, he hopes that his clean energy plan will resolve many of these problems.