Opinion: The ‘zombie’ pipeline is back

Tar sands oil would flow along this route to feed our endless thirst for oil.

GOP pushes for backdoor approval of Keystone XL pipeline

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Like a zombie that just won’t die, the Keystone XL pipeline reared its ugly head once again this weekend, as the U.S. Senate passed a payroll tax cut provision that includes a provision to bypass environmental review of the project.

In case you’ve been hiding under your bed the last few months, the Keystone XL pipeline would would carry dirty tar sands oil 1,600 miles from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.

It’s one of the dirtiest forms of fossil fuels imagineable, and the Republicans, deep in the pockets of the oil industry, want it bad. Completely ignoring the fact that a majority of Americans have clearly expressed their feelings that they don’t want tar sands oil crossing the country in a pipeline, the GOP continues to push for the project to force a showdown with the Obama administration.

Not only that, they want it approved without the scientific scrutiny required by federal environmental laws.

The reason for that is obvious. Any rigorous environmental review would show that the pipeline plan fails the smell test — by a mile.

The latest measure was passed Saturday, when few people are paying attention to politics.

Here’s what Sierra Club director Michael Brune had to say:

“Using the payroll tax cut package to advance Big Oil’s profits was an insult to America’s working families. But the real insult to this injury is the poisoned water and air, the destroyed livelihoods for farmers and ranchers that this dirty Keystone XL pipeline brings to the nation’s heartland.

“Big Oil and their cronies in Congress know that this expensive, dangerous and unnecessary pipeline fails the national interest test. That’s why they are trying to bypass the required thorough, unbiased scientific review and rush this project through.

“The Senate failed in its duty to uphold the laws of the United States and protect the American people. When this bill reaches the President’s desk, President Obama must reject the Keystone XL pipeline once and for all.”

Stay dialed into the fray by following TarSandsAction.org.

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5 Responses

  1. I agree Bob this thing is a travesty to the west! I can’t believe the right wing bought off fools!

  2. The Pig-no disrespect to live animal pigs – with lipstick. 2 months so the “O” can claim he does something-what that something is besides smoke & mirrors, then he’ll sign with regrets, before heading off to Hawaii for a merry Christmas, toasting his fellow 1 % ers as his bona fides ending year 3. All the congress – did you know they call a bunch of baboons a congress – how much longer will the public wait before . . . . . . . . . . . . . ???

  3. Not sure where the author gets his “facts” that the “majority of Americans have clearly expressed their feelings that they don’t want tar sands oil crossing the country in a pipeline”. Please provide a reference.

    I grew up in the Sandhills of Nebraska and while visiting there over Thanksgiving, every resident there who I spoke with expressed their 100% support for the pipeline. The real facts are that the pipeline would skirt the eastern edge of the Sandhills and even if there were an oil spill it wouldn’t do any significant harm to the Ogallala Aquifer since the water flows out and east away from the sandhills. In addition, all of the environmental impact statements have been reviewed and not a single one recommended against the pipeline. Only the US State Dept is holding it up at this point — perhaps they should pay more attention to other things that cross our borders and international issues than this pipeline.

  4. I agree it’s manipulative to conjoin the Payroll Tax with the Pipeline project–but that’s a political issue (albeit an important one). I disagree that much of this discourse is scientifically based. Even as a past CEO of a renewable resource company I’m willing to concede that a transitional time is need. In truth, the infrastructure, funding, and vertical integration that renewables requires…will likely eventually come not from a monetarily-on-its-heels government but from the energy industry. Just as the behemoth railroads of the 1800′s would have owned the auto and avaiation industries if they’d widened their scope to that of being the transportation industry, so too is the “fossil fools” industry moving toward doing so with renewables. Specifically on the Keystone Pipeline, with the once hopeful Arab Spring now chilling into the Arab Winter without democracy or elections leading to unfavorable-to-the-West regimes, are we really to not have improved national O&G reserves (see the 2 depots on the map)? did we learn nothing from the well-intentioned but inept Carter Admininstration where O&G scarcity led to ruinous price increases in almost every product (either made of petro or transported by it), not to mention the Central & South American policies of “no talks until you get your human rights in order” and thereby inviting and allowing restrictive regimes to persist and prosper? Is China not successfully doing the opposite globally of locking up African and S. American O&G, as well as the “rare earth” metals required for much of renewables manufacturing? When did my country–based on freedom of expression/ideas–become one that must only listen to the loudest rather that reasonable, factual dialogue?! Agreed, politics sucks…but the facts don’t. Let Canada decide what best for Canada and if they’ll sell to us–all of whom consume it. They’ve already proposed to modify the route to avoid the most sensitive environmental areas while maintaining central US protected storage depots. And who’s noticed that the reason for Houston is for an EXPORT port…remember those?! The US is actually now starting to export O&G (mainly natural gas at present). What trend does that mean? BEFORE YOU HAVE A DEMAND REVOLUTION YOU NEED A SUPPLY REVOLUTION. That is, if you/gov push demand before a large, sustainable supply is ready then you’re courting another disaster–like the il-fated corn ethanol (where you burn your food–stupid–rather than other cellulose sources like switch grass.). I exalt in the passions of others. However, wisdom is more sustainable. It’s been said, “In my 20′s I had enough heart to be passionate…in my 40′s I had enough head to be logical/wise.”

    • Mark, I love your closing quote and I can relate to that demographic. :) I also agree that there is going to be a transition phase, but do we really need to use tar sands oil as part of that?

      Or oil from deep-water drilling?

      I’m kinda feeling like we’ve done enough environmental damage and short-changed our kids and I’d like to see much more of an emphasis on conservation.

      Specifically, let’s quantify the amount of oil we could get from this pipeline, then take the money that would be spent on developing it and use that money to find ways to NOT use an equal amount of oil.

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