American Petroleum Institute’s Tar Sands Ad Campaign Pressures State Department To Approve Keystone XL

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The American Petroleum Institute (API), the oil and natural gas industry trade group, is set to launch a new misleading advertising campaign trying to convince the State Department to approve TransCanada Corporation’s Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry dirty tar sands crude from Alberta to U.S. refineries.

For a week in mid-December, TransCanada Corp. launched its own promotional campaign with TV and radio ads in Washington, D.C. Cindy Schild, API’s refining issues manager, clarified that the new API campaign would focus on the supposed economic, national security and jobs potential benefits of the tar sands oil. She stated:

We call on the department to grant the permit as a matter of critical national interest.”

“There is virtually nothing the administration could do to create more jobs.”

This month, Schild suggested that the project will create some 13,000 organized labour jobs and potentially thousands more over time, while in December, Schild cited a Canadian Energy Research Institute study from October 2009 that said oil-sands development could create 342,000 jobs in the US between 2011 and 2015. Tony Iallonardo, a spokesman for the National Wildlife Federation says the API is wildly inflating the benefits of the Keystone XL project:

TransCanada has been greatly exaggerating the domestic jobs that would result from the pipeline.”

“An analysis they paid for makes claims of thousands, while an official State Department analysis puts the number at just a few hundred, and many of those would be temporary.”

API contends that greenhouse gas emissions from tar sands oil are just 5-15% greater than conventional oil, while the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the figure could be as high as 82%. Regardless, John Kerekes, central region director for API made clear that his organization does not feel that global warming emissions should impact the State Department’s decision, expected before the summer.

We’re doing everything we can to tell people that the greenhouse gas issue is not, we believe, an issue that should prevent oil-sands expansion.”

Likely to be a part of the API’s new campaign, just last week, TransCanada Corp. signed up enough customers for the Cushing-Marketlink 150,000 barrel-per-day portion of the pipeline running from Cushing, Oklahoma to the Port Arthur refineries in Texas, near the Louisiana border.

Increasing numbers of residents in Oklahoma and East Texas are standing up to TransCanada Corp. and the Keystone XL pipeline over environmental, health, safety and property rights concerns. When the State Department makes its decision on whether or not to proceed with the pipeline, it will have to consider the full spectrum of impacts and issues that will result from dirty tar sands development.  It ought to ignore API’s wildly innacurate ad campaign in those deliberations.

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