Monday, February 25, 2013

The Pipeline

I am not all confident I understand what this Keystone pipeline is all about. If I do understand it, it must be about the craziest idea ever proposed, and if President Obama approves it, it will prove that he is not only in the pockets of big oil, but also crazy himself.
Of course I am not confident that I truly do understand it as nowadays you cannot believe anything you see or hear, especially when it comes to politics and government. You have to listen to what different sources claim and then pick the ones that at least seem to be the most accurate or logical. With this in mind, it seems to me that what is being proposed is so outrageously awful it should not even be taken seriously, let alone approved.
As I understand it, in the Province of Alberta there is a vast expanse of underground oil that can only be obtained by what is known as “fracking.” This is an extremely destructive and expensive way of producing crude oil that will apparently destroy miles and miles of forests and other aspects of nature. This exceptionally dirty oil needs to be transported to centers where it can be processed into saleable oil. Alberta cannot build a shorter pipeline directly to the west coast across Canadian territory because of environmental objections. As they cannot take this option they are suggesting a 1700 mile pipeline across the entire Midwest of the United States, through Montana, Nebraska, and on down to processing centers in Texas.
Needless to say this is a multi-billion dollar project fraught with real dangers as it will pass over critical aquifers as well as much productive agricultural land where the possibility of spills could be devastating. Proponents of this project claim it will be safe, will create 20,000 jobs, help stop our dependence on oil from other parts of the globe, and so on.  They also argue it is critical for the U.S. to maintain good relationships with our Canadian neighbors who will, of course, at least in the short run, benefit hugely from selling this valuable resource.
Opponents of this monumental project say it will not produce that many jobs, certainly not permanent ones. It is dangerous, environmentally damaging, and potentially disastrous. Furthermore, they point out, the oil so transported is not really for use by the U.S. but is, in fact, for export to China and other nations, thus doing nothing to reduce our need for other foreign oil. They also point out that while it is true Canadians will profit from selling this oil, the true beneficiaries will be the giant international oil corporations.
In summary, Alberta is willing and eager to destroy enormous areas of their Province to produce very expensive and very dirty oil they will not be allowed to transport across the Province of British Columbia because of the opposition of their own citizens. They propose building a gigantic pipeline across the entire United States in order to transport this oil to processing centers in Texas where it can be refined and then sold to other countries. The only benefits of this for the U.S. are apparently the promise of 20,000 mostly temporary jobs and congenial relations with Canada. The potential environmental destruction to the U.S., as well as the almost certainty of spills, are being downplayed by those eager for the presumed jobs (but more realistically by those U.S. Congresspersons being bribed by the Oil corporations). As this project involves crossing an international border it must be approved by President Obama. Imagine the pressure he must be under to approve this monstrosity of capitalism.
 There is extreme opposition to this pipeline on the part of environmentalists and scientists who believe it will be symbolic of where the U.S. (and the world) will go with respect to energy. Will we continue to depend on unrenewable fossil fuels rather than commit to other more renewable forms of energy? Will we continue to put jobs ahead of environmental protections? Whose side will Obama elect to support? He is certainly not in an enviable position, no matter which way he decides there will be monumental objections and complaints. Obama has said he (we) will deal with global warming. This pipeline is said to represent a crucial step in attacking that problem. I believe this is one of the most important, indeed crucial, decisions faced by any U.S. President. No doubt I have oversimplified the situation, I’m sure there must be more to it than the simple scam I have outlined. But even so, we are being asked, once again, to risk hundreds of miles of our productive land and our basic water supplies, potentially massive environmental degradation, for the benefit of Oil company profits. An old union man once told me if it came to a choice between a stupid little owl and a job he would of course go for the job. And so it all  continues. Who needs owls and healthy environments anyway? If Obama decides against this pipeline he will no doubt face excruciatingly painful recriminations from Republicans (and maybe even a few others), but he will also go down in history as one of the most important and greatest Presidents of all.

Do not disrespect
she who gives you sustenance,
move gently across
the land and the blue oceans,
like dancing with a lover.

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