Exploring the Stakes at the Heart of Keystone XL Decision

Screenshot 2014-04-11 10.25.42
(Map of proposed Keystone XL pipeline, and others.)

Obama got pressured by Democrats in the Senate to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline, an arduously long, imposing pipeline that would stretch from Hardisty, Alberta to Houston, carrying oil-rich tar sands, the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel. Even though the ramifications of the pipeline go against a lot of liberal ideals, apparently those Dems see a political gain for their party by supporting it. If it’s not approved for the economic gain of big oil, it will be for political gain. That’s how the dichotomy appears, anyway. At any rate, this pipeline is starting to look like a piece of red meat between a red wolf and a blue wolf, both salivating at the chance to exploit it for their own respective benefits.

It has some supposed benefits. Those who are for it believe that it will help stimulate the economy and create jobs. As AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka explained last year, “mass unemployment makes everything harder and feeds fear.” A pipeline like this is not the answer to a suffering economy, and there are better ones. That would be fixing symptoms instead of getting at the heart of the problem. Politicians really need to acknowledge the reality of the harsh storms and drought conditions that the U.S. has seen in the last ten years, and how all this devastating weather, in turn, affects jobs and growth.

Then there’s the pipeline’s placement in the Midwest, near and over the Ogallala Aquifer. If that thing leaks or bursts, and it goes into the ground, then what of the water that people drink that’s fast disappearing anyway?

The issue is pitted as a problem that requires choosing the lesser of two evils, economic gain at the expense of the environment versus tapping into a risky mode of obtaining fuel that puts the health and safety of Americans in jeopardy. But those aren’t the only options out there. Solar power has been a viable option for solving the energy crisis for a while now. That pipeline is not the only answer to increasing efficiency. I’m even plugging a Fox News link to get a well-rounded perspective– even they’re saying that the pipeline’s a bad idea for a whole other slew of reasons.

The rest of the world is watching nervously. Desmond Tutu is calling for a boycott of any companies that sponsor fossil fuels as a means of preventing climate change. Depending on renewable resources increases independence, and by increasing independence, we reduce the risk of climate change. The effects of climate change are already under way. Two-mile-thick sheets of ice wider than the continental US in Antarctica are melting irreversibly and will raise the level of the ocean, diminishing coastline. It’s gotten to a point where protesting the pipeline and/or boycotting companies that sponsor it becomes a simple matter of an organism, in this case the human one, looking out for its own survival as a species.

So with all these arguments against the pipeline from both the left and the right, from activists, from diplomats overseas and where it’s a rare case of so many unlikely parties agreeing on something, what is the problem? Why is our government still wanting to go through with it? Money of course. It’s economically sound if not morally sound. Where is the sense of desperation really coming from? What’s the real moral quandary here?

A domestic pipeline decreases dependency on foreign oil. Could it be that democrats want Obama to approve the pipeline in order to keep us out of Ukraine? There’s some talk of sending US troops over there. Though analysts say that the numbers of US troops in Ukraine wouldn’t be the issue and that it’s an issue of not getting American support, the plain fact is, as US News reported, there’s talk about it. What’s in it for us is more than just keeping Ukraine safe, or to satisfy pride from the Cold War. Ukraine is in the middle of a fuel dispute.

“”Russia’s Gazprom, controlling almost a fifth of the world’s gas reserves, supplies more than half of Ukraine’s, and about 30% of Europe’s gas annually. Just one month before Nuland’s speech at the National Press Club, Ukraine signed a $10 billion shale gas deal with US energy giant Chevron “that the ex-Soviet nation hopes could end its energy dependence on Russia by 2020.” The agreement would allow “Chevron to explore the Olesky deposit in western Ukraine that Kiev estimates can hold 2.98 trillion cubic meters of gas.’ Similar deals had been struck already with Shell and ExxonMobil.”

I am in agreement with Mr. Tutu’s idea to boycott companies that sponsor fossil fuels. By passively resisting the need for oil, we just could be exercising passive resistance to another war.

-LK

This entry was posted in Activism, Economy, Environment, politics, U.S. and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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