The current hype surrounding Keystone seems to have moved away from energy security to the creation of jobs. Certainly the construction phase will result in jobs: trenching, laying the pipe, installing pumping stations. After construction tar sands bitumen will flow to the Gulf Refineries, and for some time there will be continuing jobs in the oil kingdoms of Alberta and Texas.
But there is another side and it concerns the smallest State in the United States: Rhode Island. For centuries there has been a fishing industry in this small State. Not that large but large enough to support a way of life in coastal communities. Now the industry is suffering – suffering because climate change has brought warmer temperatures to the Atlantic Ocean. (Flashback: the warmer temperature aided and abetted the destructive force of Hurricane Sandy.)
The Senator for Rhode Island, Sheldon Whitehouse, gave this local issue national publicity when he took exception to the drumbeat of jobs, jobs, jobs.
“”What I cannot accept is that coal and oil jobs are the only jobs that are at stake when we discuss acting on climate change,” Whitehouse said in January during an Environment and Public Works Committee hearing.”Not when fishermen in Rhode Island are no longer catching winter flounder because Narragansett Bay is 3 or 4 degrees warmer.”
Supporters of Keystone will ignore the small number of jobs lost in Rhode Island and the impact of this loss on communities that have been there “for ever”. But they cannot dismiss the clear message that our oceans are in distress. Distress that was evident in a recent news item how the BC scallop fishery is threatened as catches decline. Ocean acidification through the absorption of CO2 is killing the scallops.
Think of the Nova Scotia scallop industry – will its turn come with the unchecked spewing of carbon dioxide into the air because we continue to burn fossil fuels?