Oil Industry Co-Opts Occupy Movement to Sell the Keystone XL Pipeline

Thu, 2011-11-03 20:14Emma Pullman
Emma Pullman's picture

Oil Industry Co-Opts Occupy Movement to Sell the Keystone XL Pipeline

The AFL-CIO's America's Building Trades Unions and Oil and Natural Gas Industry Labor-Management Committee are attempting to co-opt the Occupy movement with a new initiative to try to get the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline approved. Jobs for the 99% likens the growing celebrity support against the Keystone XL pipeline to an occupation of sorts. “Celebrities are taking over DC” the website says, and “Hollywood’s elite 1% should stop flying to DC and speaking out against jobs that help the other 99% of America!” 

Pitting celebrity support of anti-Keystone efforts against average Americans, “Jobs for the 99%” tells us that wealthy celebrities are killing valuable jobs, and that by telling the White House to support Keystone XL, “we” can act in solidarity with the 99%. 

You gotta hand it to them, it's a bold move. But here's why it's misleading and you shouldn't buy it. Hijacking the occupy movement to create a climate killing pipeline is a boon to the 1% who will harvest the profits. The 99% only get a few short term jobs (or not), not long term sustainable employment. That's why oil and gas companies, some of the largest and most notoriously corrupt corporations in the world, are backing this astroturf campaign with some serious funding.

And they're handing down the public health and environmental costs associated with a potential spill - and the “game over” climate change that expanding tar sands production will cause - back to the 99%.

Jobs for the 99% reads a lot like a TransCanada advertisement. It details favourable industry information on Keystone and proposed Keystone XL pipelines and urges viewers to 'have their voice heard' by calling the White House directly through the website to urge Obama to support the pipeline.  
 
But Jobs for the 99 have their facts wrong in major ways. 
 
A “facts page” about Keystone XL lists the supposed benefits, including “20,000 immediate private sector jobs”, economic growth, and local tax revenue benefits of the pipeline. Actually, it will not create nearly the number that the oil industry suggests, and while a TransCanada-financed study says the project will create 20,000 temporary jobs, the State Department's analysis says the pipeline will realistically create only 5,000-6,000 temporary construction jobs for three years. And a Cornell study [PDF] suggests the Keystone XL project may actually cost more jobs than it creates by driving up the cost of gasoline.
 
The “Jobs for the 99%” website also maintains that the pipeline will be built with “safety and quality construction”. But if we judge by TransCanada's spill record, we shouldn't be convinced. Since its Keystone I pipeline came online in June of 2010, it suffered a dozen spills - more than any other first-year pipeline in U.S. history. That is particularly troubling since the Keystone XL would cross one of the largest aquifers in the world – the Ogallala – which supplies drinking water to millions of mid-Westerners and provides 30% of the nation’s groundwater used for irrigation.
 
The website boldly claims that the pipeline will “help reduce our dependency on oil from the Middle East”. But TransCanada’s own research demonstrates the folly of this claim. The Keystone XL pipeline was never meant to decrease our reliance on foreign oil, just to keep Gulf Coast refineries at capacity and enable exports to overseas markets. Global demand for oil keeps going up, and a marginal shift in Canadian and US consumption will be offset by growing demand from other countries, keeping prices high. 
 
The viewer is told that if the pipeline is not approved, Canada will simply sell its oil to Europe or Asia. But research shows that much of the oil is actually destined for foreign markets anyway. Plus oil goes to the global marketplace, not directly into the gas tanks of Americans.
 
The Oil and Natural Gas Industry Labor-Management Committee website is “under construction,” but their Facebook page links to http://energytomorrow.org, an American Petroleum Institute site. API represents the interests of the 1%. 
 
People certainly need jobs and are looking for them. But let's be clear: if we want to create a lot of jobs, we should work to create a a clean energy economy that will create lasting jobs and a sustainable future, not more short-term profits for rich oil executives.  

Comments

Corporations trying to identify with the OWS protests are crazy. These people don’t want jobs, they want to congregate in big groups and not have jobs.

For a month the media has been trying to identify goals and exit stategies of the protesters.

Their goal isn’t about getting jobs or changing the tax code or even bringing about socialism. Their goal is to protest, to demonstrate, to congregate - to occupy. Thats the beginning and the end of it.

Corporations need to see that and keep a distance from the whole mess.

http://a3.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/390185_195226923888249_159928490751426_428382_849277307_n.jpg

Wow…and you know all this how?  Indepth personal interviews with each protester?

You’ll realize that it has nothing to do with the occupy movement.  Its just a PR campaign grafted on top pretending to represent their interests.

Clearly the protestors concerns aren’t being considered.  Although I would guess that a few could be swayed by it.  Guys looking for heavy construction or other manual labour would be overjoyed.  The lack on any real meaningful permanent jobs though is a bigger concern IMO.

In any crowd there are individuals with a variety of purposes and motivation but I think we both see what’s going on here. A normal protest lasts an hour or two but a tent city that lasts indefinetely is something else. If it happens in Africa, it’s a refugee camp and the people are running away from being killed. If it happens all over the place in western society, bored self righteous nuts are trying to be a part of something that roughly equates to Woodstock, the proudest moment of hippiedom where a whole bunch of people sat around in the mud and listened to advice to avoid the brown acid.

(I’m a 1%er if you must know.)

This isn’t a protest.  Its a movement, and like many previous movements, its starting with an aimless wandering.

Many of these folks have been sold a future that never materialized.  In the old days, it was a slam dunk.  Get an education, get a job, get a mortgage, enjoy your life.  These days its not quite the case. 

Where I live in Alberta we’ve got some occupiers (not many), but for the life of me I cannot understand what they are upset about.  We have an extremely low unemployment rate, and obviously the future in Alberta is pretty clear.  Oil.

Watch that video I posted previously.  Again, I’m no marxist but it made a lot of sense.  We’ve squeezed our workers to the point where their futures are uncertain, and their wages are low.  Its vicious circle because companies want people to buy things (keeping the economy going), all the while squeezing wages to the point that they can’t afford anything.

Solution? Credit.  But is that really a solution?  Given the global financial melt down I’d say that Credit was a bad solution.

Most people in the world today are poor and Most people throughout history have been relatively impoverished.

Today - in the west few people are truly poor. For example my boss is possibly a thousand times richer than me but there is nothing she has that I need. I have a good enough car, I have a place, clothes, gadgets, other general stuff and some savings. She’s the 1 % but how is her life any better than mine? I’d say her life is better in no way that matters and that’s a scenario that is repeated over and over.

Many young people in this movement are upset because they are poor relative to the 1%.

They have dreams of 6 figure incomes and exotic vacations and the best stuff that can be had.

To bad for them.  Life isn’t fair - some people fly in private jets to exotic places but most people live with less.

The truth is - the ordinary person in the west is  fabulously rich compared to most people in poorer parts of the world.

 

I feel as though I’m on a tread mill to get ahead.  And I don’t like it.

This has been coming for a long time.  My father always complained about being able to afford less and less as time went by.  (He was only a Dentist.)

Compared to the rest of the world we are never the less extremely wealthy. (That’s what I tell myself every night.)

However, Rick, you are missing an essential point which is that the 99% can afford less and less in relative terms as the years have gone on. The implication is that our economy is collapsing.  Who in our society were we planning to build and sell products too?  The 99%?

Rick is obviously a seasoned veteran of protests, having participated in numerous sit-ins, love-ins, be-ins, occupations, Arab rebellions, African revolutions, Latin American counter-insurgencies and even hockey riots. When Rick pretends to tell us what each and every protester does for a living, and guides us as to what a ‘normal’ protest is, and what kind of demographic makes up any given protest, we should just take his word for it over the internet. Because after all, Rick has the experience and knowledge to make instant judgments about other people’s lives.

I guess I’m just prejudiced against brazen disregard for public and private property, grotesque city camping with open sex and drugs and violence and filth, dead 23 year old women in tents, the shouting of profanities at police and law abiding citizens and the sneering self righteous “world owes me a living” attitude of self important losers. (I watch the news sometimes) This “movement” is lawless and useless and everyday we see evidence that authorities are preparing to end it.

Rick once again you have summed up the situation nicely. Here we have a bunch of self entitled first world brats seeking attention.

Exactly.  Their little temper tantrum isn’t about getting jobs, because they don’t want jobs.

As we can see, professional environmental activists are completely on-board with the occuposers – they don’t want them to have jobs, either.

We’re playing stereotypes? Ok, let me try…

Elitiist, latte-sipping internet trolls log on to wail and moan about protests they don’t undertand and don’t want to understand. They sneer at those who deign to stand up and criticize the system. These elitist internet trolls don’t want to hear or see anything that contradicts their smug, self-satisfied worldview. The system is perfect, it’s the 99% who are faulty.

That was fun, thanks!

I found the following RSA Animate talk quite interesting;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOP2V_np2c0

Its a little too anti capitalist for my taste, and even makes it all out like some sort of coordinated conspiracy, however it was still enlightening.

Not sure I followed it all but it did indeed illistrate some good points and spelled out some clear problems…

All in all a good vid.

Thanks for shareing

“But let’s be clear: if we want to create a lot of jobs, we should work to create a a clean energy economy that will create lasting jobs and a sustainable future …”

Yes, just look at how many jobs a boondoggle like Solyndra created – and it only cost over half a billion dollars of taxpayer’s money.

“… not more short-term profits for rich oil executives.”

Much better the money goes directly into the pockets of ‘one-percenters’ who are well-connected cronies of the Democrats and the Obama administration, like George Kaiser.

At least when oil companies make a profit, we get something useful in exchange – not a smoking hole in the ground where all the public funds disappear forever.

How much does your oil cost you?  You pay huge amounts in taxes to support the oil industry, and the military.  You prop up evil despots and vile tyrants.  You’ve spend much more than some half billion dollars proping them up.

You are paying way more than your pump price for your oil.

This cost is so blatently obvious, that in Canada we have the ‘Ethical Oil’ campaign trying to tout Canada as being much more ethical to deal with and much less expensive (because you don’t need a military) than other countries.

To argue otherwise means you have no ethics.  (At least according to Canadian Conservatives.)

We live in an age of American imperial strength. For better or worse America sets the world in a certain order and if America adopted Ron Paul policies of international non involvement, the world would be different. I don’t know for sure if it would be better or worse but I suspect it would be more dangerous. For example I think the $15B. (wikipededia) annual losses to Sea Piracy would skyrocket without the constant police threat of the American military.

Demonstrated American power may well be keeping a lid on things.

By comparison, if we dramatically scaled back police and prison systems, organized crime would literally take over everything. If there were no police, judges and prisons, crime would rule.

Pax Americana such as it is, runs on oil

I don’t know if I really agree, but well said.

I don’t think the world needs to run on oil, ‘just ‘cause.

“By comparison, if we dramatically scaled back police and prison systems, organized crime would literally take over everything. If there were no police, judges and prisons, crime would rule”

In other words, no different than the way things are now under a different organized crime rule by banksters.

Wonder how we ever managed without police, judges and prisons for hundreds of thousands of years.

The way it was managed was by a system of strong men who gatherered enough support to be the local authority until some other strong man took him out. Local warlords sometimes advanced to fame and started empires. Success as a warlord requires a willingness to fight to the death and inspire the support of others. The warlords word is law and warlord law involves crushing opposition without mercy. Today we call it organized crime. That becomes the system without judges, prisons and police. A “bankster” is not a warlord or a criminal. He’s just a guy who has more money than you. No need to whine about it.

Wow..you managed to prove you know absolutely nothing about history, world geo-politics, anthropology or capitalism—all in one post! Congratulations.

 

You can disagree with my math all you want, unfortunately math isn’t subject to personal opinion.

Either you don’t actually understand the ethical oil argument, or you have definitely  misrepresented it here.  I have never heard any Canadian conservative argue that buying oil from Canada is “cheaper” than buying it from Saudi Arabia.

If anything, a variation on what you have presented, is an actual argument which I have heard ethical oil advocates use.  It goes as follows:

IF you accept the classic liberal canard that the US engages in foreign military adventures simply to obtain oil, then you have to accept the costs associated with such operations would be eliminated by doing business with a friendly country like Canada.

This is not to say that any conservative is seriously suggesting that the US is in the habit of invading foreign countries to steal their oil – it is simply to short-circuit a rather laughable, yet often repeated, liberal talking-point. Ie., the old “no blood for oil” slogan.

And your liberal premise is false not only on the face of it, but so are the assumptions on which you build from.

“How much does your oil cost you?  You pay huge amounts in taxes to support the oil industry, and the military.”

You’ve got it backwards.  Taxes don’t support the oil industry.  The oil industry is a hugely positive revenue source for the government.  In other words, the oil industry supports the government.

“You prop up evil despots and vile tyrants.  You’ve spend much more than some half billion dollars proping them up.”

Firstly, I don’t know that the US “props up evil despots, etc.” more than any other government.  Most of your solar panels come from China.  How do like propping up those “evil despots”?

In any case, the US doesn’t have to invade or support any particular country simply to buy their oil.  If they did, then US occupation troops would be in Canada, Mexico, and Venezuela right now.  And those, by the way, are the United States’ major sources of foreign oil.

“You are paying way more than your pump price for your oil.”

Yes, in Canada it’s mostly taxes.

Even if what you claim were true (and it isn’t), that US taxpayers are being raped to support their military, so they can get oil, then how do you explain the fact that the US overal tax and non-tax government revenue is 28% of GDP, while in Canada it is a whopping 38% of GDP.

And yet, mysteriously, the pump price of gasoline in the US is significantly cheaper than in Canada.

By golly, if less expensive fuel and lower taxes are the result of having our military invade foreign countries to steal their oil, then I say we Canadians should do the same!

“This cost is so blatently obvious, that in Canada we have the ‘Ethical Oil’ campaign trying to tout Canada as being much more ethical to deal with and much less expensive (because you don’t need a military) than other countries.”

That highlighted part is pretty much your own embellishment.  As I’ve said, I have never heard that particular argument being made by any ethical oil advocate – mainly, because it’s rather stupid.

“To argue otherwise means you have no ethics.  (At least according to Canadian Conservatives.)

No, that would actually be according to you.  If you can point out where any notable Canadian conservative has said anything like that, please be so good as to direct us to it.

 

(Point taken about the US miltary abroad for oil.  I conceed on that.)

However straight from the conservative horses Mouth;

Canada’s resolve to grow market share in the United States, largely at the Saudis expense, diminishing their influence over a country they counted on for military and political support.

http://www.ethicaloil.org/news/why-the-saudis-are-scared/

I suppose my comment about ‘no ethics’ is incorrect.  Its definitely implied.  If supporting ethical oil is ethical, then supporting the other stuff, is unethical.  i.e. Not supporting Oil Sands is supporting the Saudis which; “Human Rights Watch have publicly and thoroughly documented Saudi atrocities while American interest groups have been raising alarms over the royal family’s funding of terrorist groups like al Qaeda.”

I didn’t mean proping up tyrants in a blaming way.  Its not like its your fault.  I’m trying say that I don’t think its right and it does have a cost.  This blood cost is very central to the Ethical Oil point of view. [see above]  (I’m not so squeamish to think they we don’t do nasty things abroad.  I just don’t like it.)

Taxes… you’re comparing apples and oranges, and somehow concluding something.

In Canada, our taxes include medical.  Americans pay $500 a month (each) for significantly less coverage that we have.  (I hate to say it, but I think we should pay more.  And yeah, I really do like some of the things the conservatives are doing, like building up the military.  That costs more.)

“However straight from the conservative horses Mouth;

Canada’s resolve to grow market share in the United States, largely at the Saudis expense, diminishing their influence over a country they counted on for military and political support.

Yes, so where does it say anything about buying oil from Canada is less expensive than from Saudi Arabia?  There are a lot of good reasons to diminish the influence Saudis have on US policy, I hardly think saving money would be one of them – nor does Ethicaloil.org claim that.

“I suppose my comment about ‘no ethics’ is incorrect.  Its definitely implied.  If supporting ethical oil is ethical, then supporting the other stuff, is unethical.  i.e. Not supporting Oil Sands is supporting the Saudis”

I don’t see any contradiction there, and I’m not really sure what point you’re trying to make.

“In Canada, our taxes include medical.  Americans pay $500 a month (each) for significantly less coverage that we have.”

US taxes also go toward health care – in fact, significantly more so than in Canada.  US government per capita health care expenditures are 23% higher than Canada.

Interesting that I am reading a Univ of Texas journalism professor in Al Jazeera…

http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/11/201111191022862285.html

“We need to recognise that the crises we face are not simply the result of greedy corporate executives or corrupt politicians, but rather of failed systems. The problem is not the specific people who control most of the wealth of the country, or those in government who serve them, but the systems that create those roles.”

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Alex MacLean, oilsands, keystone xl, tar sands

Alex MacLean is one of America’s most famed and iconic aerial photographers. His perspective on human structures, from bodies sunbathing at the beach to complex, overlapping highway systems, always seems to hint at a larger symbolic meaning hidden in the mundane. By photographing from above, MacLean shows the sequences and patterns of human activity, including the scope of our impact on natural systems. His work reminds us of the law of proximity: the...

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