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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

January 8, 2015 at 6:05 AM

Keystone XL pipeline: More than an issue of job creation

When state Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, spoke on the UW Seattle campus last winter, he told the audience that in order to get attention, an issue had to be framed in the context of job creation. Such is the unfortunate state of our political discourse, and this tactic is being used in the debate over the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline extension [“White House issues veto threat on Keystone XL pipeline bill,” Nation & World, Jan. 6].

Does it make economic sense to spend $3.3 billion in construction contracts to fund 16,000 jobs temporarily through direct spending? When discussing the pipeline project, we must move away from the obsession over how many jobs it would create and instead debate the necessity and utility of building this pipeline. How will the completion, not construction, of this project benefit the economy, both in the short and long term? We must weigh these benefits against the indirect costs associated with this project.

We must look at the impacts of this project not in terms of how many construction workers would have temporary jobs, but whether the immediate investment would later be outweighed by the cost of combating its unintended effects. Whether these effects come in the form of direct degradation of the environment (i.e. a leak or spill), or in the form of long-term harm to the environment (and the economy), their potential should not be ignored.

Brendan Philip, Seattle

Comments | More in Environment | Topics: Brendan Philip, economy, environment

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