The extension of the Keystone pipeline is an example of misplaced government priorities, Eleanor Bader says in this edition of “Truthout Interviews.” The rationale for the extension is to allow tar sands oils from Canada to flow to the Gulf of Mexico where the crude oil will be refined into fuel. It seems simple enough: find an oil source that’s not in a politically volatile region of the world and refine it domestically to provide for the energy needs of North America. However, building the pipeline extension raises issues: the government’s use of its power of eminent domain in the interests of a private oil company; the environmental consequences of tar sands oil extraction and the inevitable pipeline spills; the pipeline’s proposed route; the quality and tenure of the jobs purportedly created.
Instead of creating such a questionable structure, Bader says, the government should be redirecting its priorities toward infrastructural spending on aging water pipes, bridges, and mass transit. In short, the government should be spending money that benefits a larger slice of its citizens, rather than the narrow interests of oil companies. Good paying jobs that can’t be off-shored, more teachers for overcrowded schools, and single-payer health care will do more to lift the economic fortunes of the lower and middle class in the US than paying less per gallon at the gas pump.