Is the Keystone Pipeline Worth the Mess?

Nati Harnik / FILE / AP Photo

In this Sept. 21, 2010 photo, an unidentified protester who is opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline because of environmental reasons, carries signs in Omaha, Neb. TransCanada's second pipeline, the $7 billion Keystone XL, is planned to carry crude oil from tar sands near Hardisty, Alberta to the Gulf Coast is now delayed indefinitely, with little official explanation.

A pipeline from Canada to Texas is the latest flashpoint controversy to grip the nation, but The Atlantic's Jordan Weissmann says activists may be overreacting. The project may create enough jobs that its nasty ecological side effects would be justified. The pipeline is expected to create 119,000 jobs and an additional 250,000 permanent positions. But Weissmann also points out, “The world consumes 90 million barrels of oil a day. The Keystone XL pipeline will, realistically, only add about 560,000 barrels of capacity. In the scheme of things, that's just not much.”