- The Washington Times - Monday, January 16, 2012

A coalition of businesses is the first such group to denounce the Canada-to-Texas Keystone XL oil pipeline and is urging President Obama to reject the project and turn the nation’s focus to alternative and renewable energy.

The American Sustainable Business Council disputes Keystone’s job numbers and energy security claims that most other business organizations tout when discussing the project.

“Keystone makes no economic sense for America,” said ASBC communications manager David Brodwin. “Once we take into account the true cost of oil including subsidies, environmental damage and military costs, oil is far more expensive than the alternatives. The best thing we can do for the American economy, and for American businesses as a whole, is to wean ourselves from oil as quickly as possible.”

The proposed pipeline would travel 1,700 miles from the tar sands of Alberta to refineries in Texas. Most business groups say it would create some 20,000 jobs.

“Contrary to the claims of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, American Petroleum Institute and other pipeline advocates who threaten political retaliation if the pipeline is not approved, Keystone XL would not deliver on jobs, energy, safety or economic competitiveness,” ASBC co-founder and Executive Director David Levine said.

Frank Knapp, vice chairman of ASBC and president of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce, points to a State Department estimate of 5,000 to 6,000 mostly temporary jobs, and accused other business groups of “embellishing.”

“We just don’t agree with their projections,” he said. “The proponents are dramatically embellishing the number of jobs that will be created. We don’t know where their numbers are coming from.”

Mr. Knapp also questioned whether the jobs that would be created are worth the risk to the environment.

“A job’s a job - unless, of course, that job is producing something that we really don’t want,” he said. “What we don’t want and don’t need is to damage the environment.”

The ASBC points to a U.S. Commerce Department study that shows alternative energy spending generates three times as many jobs as oil and gas spending.

“Keystone would deliver far less bang for the buck when it comes to job creation than alternative energy,” the group said.

Mr. Knapp also criticized the business community’s energy security claims. Many believe the pipeline will reduce the nation’s dependence on overseas oil, allowing it to be imported from our northern neighbor instead.

“Why do we keep talking about energy security?” he asked. “Everybody knows this is going to be shipped overseas, the majority of it to China. There’s no doubt. None of it’s going to stay.”

The ASBC represents 45 small and medium-sized business that operate in the renewable energy industry, such as Green America and the Green Chamber of Commerce.

In recent years, the coalition has supported the president’s health care overhaul, the Dodd-Frank financial reforms and the president’s decision to appoint a single director to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau - all stances that have gone against many in the business community.

“We’re really looking out for what’s in the best interest of sustainable small businesses and a sustainable economy,” Mr. Knapp said. “Keystone is diverting the country’s attention. We get hung up on issues like this. We all get sucked into the fight, so that the things we should be doing, such as promoting green energy, never get done. It is simply a distraction.”

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