Friday, January 13, 2012
Crude Oil and Pipeline Dreams | Casey's Last Word
The Keystone XL Pipeline, which would carry crude oil from the tar sands of Alberta 1,700 miles to Houston and Port Arthur, has not raised nearly as much controversy in San Antonio as it has in other parts of the country and in Washington.
But San Antonio has some expertise on at least one part of the issue.
The issue was hot enough that President Obama, who has to approve an international pipeline, postponed the decision until after the election.
You can’t blame him. Either way he goes he angers part of his base – mainly environmentalists on one side and labor unions on the other.
So House Republicans tucked into the payroll tax cut extension bill that Obama wanted so badly, a requirement that he make his decision by Feb. 21.
Environmentalists worry that pipelines leak, and that the extraction of this oil is particularly destructive of the Canadian environment and releases huge amounts of heat trapping gases into the atmosphere.
Supporters downplay these concerns, and concentrate on jobs.
“Tens of thousands of jobs,” says House Speaker John Boehner.
“Twenty thousand immediate jobs and 118,000 spin-off jobs,” says Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.
“More than 100,000 jobs,” says presidential candidate Jon Huntsman.
That’s where San Antonians have some expertise.
They know the economist whose study these supporters cite.
Waco economist Ray Perryman, who was hired by the Canadian company that would build the pipeline, years ago was hired by the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce to assess the economic impact of the proposed stadium that would come to be the Alamodome.
Based on numbers that the Chamber provided him, Perryman produced a report saying that even if we build it and they (the NFL) did not come, the stadium would generate 5,900 to 6,000 permanent jobs.
The dome does add some money to the San Antonio economy.
The annual Valero Alamobowl and the occasional NCAA regional or national basketball championships bring tens of thousands of visitors to hotels and the River Walk, infusing fresh money into the economy.
But when the Alamodome hosts monster truck events like one this weekend, it’s only attracting local money that otherwise would be spent on other entertainment.
The same goes for a boat show and a home and garden show that are the only public events scheduled at the Alamodome between now and the end of next month.
Six thousand permanent jobs? Not likely.
Mr. Perryman can be counted on to produce numbers that please his clients.
He was once paid $9,700 by the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce to analyze the impact of proposed local environmental regulations.
He predicted they would cost the city’s economy $9 billion and 131,000 permanent jobs.
Many of the regulations were passed, and as you know, Austin has pretty much withered away.
Actually, less than five years later the chamber’s chairman said, “there is no evidence that environmental protection has hurt the economy at all."
So a lot of factors should be considered regarding the Keystone Pipeline, but those job numbers?
A Cornell University institute examined Perryman’s study and titled its report: “Pipe Dreams.”