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Unpublished Letters: Fact Checker’s Partial Facts On Pipeline Employment Implications

December 27th, 2011 · 1 Comment

WarrenS has taken on an admirable resolution: to send a letter to the editor (LTE) (or, well, a major politician) every single day, on the critical issues of climate change and energy. This discusses his approach and here is an amusing ‘template’ to for rapid letter writing.

Now, I have always written letters and even had many published — just not one every day. WarrenS inspires me to do better.

Many newspapers state that they will reject letters that have been published elsewhere, thus I have not been blogging letters … perhaps that should change. Thus, on a delay from ‘rejection’ (or lack of publication), here is an installment of the “unpublished letters” series publishing those LTEs that don’t get picked up by the editors.

18 December 2011

To the Editor,

With Glenn Kessler’s “Fact Checker,” The Washington Post fulfills an important journalistic role in helping foster a more informed public. At times, “Fact Checker” falls short of what it can and should be.  Today’s Fact Checker purports to take a full-fledged look at Keystone XL pipeline job claims from across the political spectrum.  A fair summary of the article: claims of 100,000s of jobs are highly questionable while a more reasonable statement would be to cite the pipeline company’s claimed 13,000 job years (6,500 for two years) which is what the Department of State did in its analysis. 

Missing, however, is that the one truly independent analysis to date, by researchers at Cornell University.  That detailed analysis lays out a strong case for questioning whether, in aggregate, the Keystone XL pipeline will actually end up costing Americans jobs and lead to increased unemployment.  The tar sands oil that Keystone XL would move to Gulf Coast refineries where a large share (likely most) would be exported.  Currently, that tar sands ends up in Midwest refineries and moderates gas and diesel prices in that region.  Basic supply and demand: move that oil out of those states and the resulting increased fuel prices could hurt economic performance.  And, much of Keystone’s claimed basis for employment is work that has already been completed (e.g, job years in the past), much will be down outside the United States, and …

Even more seriously, of course, is that tar sands is an extremely high-polluting fuel source.  Buying into questionable projects like Keystone XL will only worsen the economic and other havoc that catastrophic climate change will cause.  We need to adjudge into projects like Keystone XL, which the State Department failed to do in its environmental review, these real and extraordinarily serious risks.  What are the nation’s job prospects in a world dominated by unchecked climate chaos?

By failing to include the Cornell analysis in today’s piece, Fact Checker failed to check the facts and the Post failed its subscribers.

A Siegel
  Washington Post Subscriber

PS:  While the Post did not see choose to publish this letter, the Ombudsman’s office contacted me to let me know that they’d shared it with Kessler.

NOTE: From the press release discussing the facts that Fact Checker failed to check:

Cornell GLI’s new report, Pipe Dreams? Jobs Gained, Jobs Lost by the Construction of Keystone XL examines the job impacts of TransCanada Corportation’s Keystone XL Pipeline, the proposed pipeline that would transport tar sands oil almost 2,000 miles from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf of Mexico in Texas. The report reviews claims made by TransCanada and the American Petroleum Institute that the project will create 20,000 construction and manufacturing and 119,000 (direct, indirect and induced) jobs.

The report concludes that the job estimates put forward by TransCanada are unsubstantiated and the project will not only create fewer jobs than industry states, but that the project could actually kill more jobs than it creates

Tags: Energy · Post Watch · Washington Post · media · unpublished letters

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