Business leaders across the nation understand that climate change, if not addressed, will impose substantial economic costs on the US. All of us will spend more money to harden our infrastructure, repair storm-damaged homes, pay more for health care and fresh water and watch property values deteriorate. These costs will make the US economy less productive and less competitive. This is especially bad news for the small to mid-size businesses that create the most jobs in our country.
The Keystone XL Pipeline is not an economically viable project. We believe that the market would not be able to bear the true cost of the pipeline without major government subsidies. If the private sector were to internalize the full cost, including the setting up of a fully adequate fund against damage from the possible spills, land despoliation, water clean-up, medical costs, carbon emissions, and other damages associated with the Pipeline, it would be a losing financial proposition.
Nor do we believe that the Pipeline will create the large number of jobs its supporters contend. As a March 2012 study from Cornell University noted, an equal investment in clean energy generates 3 to 4 times as many jobs as investments in fossil fuels, without the potential environmental hazards posed by pipelines like Keystone XL. The Pipeline will do very little (and at great cost) to improve the nation’s energy security. In fact, much of the output is destined for export.
All these economic reasons and more are why close to 1,000 business leaders have already signed on to a letter to the President asking to cancel the Pipeline.
To address this danger, the United States needs to take action to lower our own carbon output. Doing so will put us in a better negotiating position to encourage other large emitting nations (mainly China and India) to reduce their own GHG emissions. The money that needs to be spent to build the pipeline would be more productively directed toward developing less carbon- intensive energy sources and infrastructure (such as smart grid) and increasing energy efficiency. The US needs to double down in its investments in the $5 trillion global clean technology market (and the jobs that go with it). We applaud the gains that Germany and other nations are making in clean energy, but do not think it wise for the US to become an also ran in this dynamic industry.
To learn more about the positive role that business is playing to create a clean energy economy, visit the American Sustainable Business Council website.