There’s a debate raging on the Senate Floor right now over the Keystone XL Pipeline, and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D – CA) is lamenting how dirty the air is where the pipeline will end, Port Arthur, TX. Specifically, she is using a photo of a playground in the Texas city located near oil refineries showing dark plumes of smoke pouring into the sky and an entirely overcast sky. She claims the air will become even worse if the pipeline is approved.
I’ve done graphic design for many years now and can tell when something is most likely Photoshopped. This is one of these occasions. The picture above that she is using has several inconsistencies. First, while the plumes are black and the sky is completely overcast, the ground is bright with dark shadows as if it is a sunny day. Second, the grey clouds seem unnaturally smooth and flat, looking like the Photoshop user painted over it in a rush like airbrushing. Finally, look at the pictures of the parks in the pictures below in Port Arthur near those same refineries. Clear skies and bright sunny days are seen even when the refineries are shown running in the background.
Barbara Boxer also claims that the pipeline will increase asthma and other medical issues in Port Arthur. It’s claimed that asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease rates are higher in Jefferson County, where Port Arthur is located, than the rest of Texas, but Port Arthur is also one of the most impoverished cities. Statewide median household income in 2012 was $51,563, but in Port Arthur it’s much, much lower at only $33,456. Nearly a quarter of the households have an income of less than $15,000. So, while Sen. Boxer seems to think air quality is the reason why there are so many medical issues, a bigger and more apparent factor could be the community’s poverty. Even the mayor of Port Arthur supports the Keystone pipeline as a way to increase employment and reduce poverty. The Federal government’s own EPA says the air in the city meets “health-based standards”.
In the end, it appears Boxer is using dishonest tactics to benefit her agenda, especially since even Harry Reid thinks it’s very likely the bill allowing the Keystone pipeline will pass.