Sunday, June 02, 2013

Supporting Shanghai

Bill McKibbben's has been fighting the good fight against construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Its website encourages opponents of construction to send a letter to the State Department including one or more of the following points:

Keystone XL will contribute dramatically to climate change. The State Department confirmed that tar sands fuel is up to 19% more greenhouse gas intensive than conventional fuel, and the tar sands industry admits that Keystone XL will lead to more tar sands production.

The total carbon pollution impacts of Keystone XL are the equivalent of putting 9 million cars on the road when considering the total emissions of tar sands and refining processes.

Contrary to claims made by supporters of the pipeline, the pipeline could end as many jobs as it creates with toxic spills in farmland or water resources.

Only 10% of the created jobs would be filled by local people living in communities along the route. 

Building a new pipeline now will lock us in to higher carbon emissions when we should be rapidly investing in renewable energy that cannot be exported and will  provide a secure energy future.

Processing heavier, dirtier tar sands oil will increase the amount of toxic pollutants in communities near refineries that are already suffering fro high rates of asthma and cancer.

New data suggests that the current analyses of the impacts of tar sands under-estimate the climate impacts of tar sands pollution by at least 13% because they don't account for a high -carbon byproduct of the refining process used as a cheap alternative to coal:  petroleum coke.

The pipeline's risk to water has not changed at all with the new route. It still crosses the Sandhills and the Ogallala aquifer, and this was the reason that Gov. Heineman, Sen. Johanns and President Obama rejected the route the first time around.

The pipeline will cross more than 1,000 water bodies across 3 states and 875 miles threatening drinking water for people, farms, and ranches with a devastating tar sands sill.

This pipeline poses an unacceptable risk to water. Trans Canada's first Keystone pipeline spilled 14 times in the U.S. in its first year of operation, and Enbridge, another pipeline operator, suffered a spill of more than one million gallons in the Kalamazoo River in 2010.

 They're all good points.  But a Pew Research Center poll released on April 2 showed 66% of the public supporting construction and only 23% opposed.   The political director of CREDO, a progressive organization which in early April had organized a protest in San Francisco against the pipeline, maintained "That same poll also found that the majority of Americans want strong action on climate change. Most people don't know what Keystone really entails. When we explain to them that this is a foreign company using this project to burn some of the dirtiest oil on the Earth, they come around to seeing why it's a bad idea."

Sadly, more respondents than not in that poll supported more hydraulic fracturing, and only 42% of respondents agreed with the proposition (actually, fact) that the earth is warming, an due primarily to human activity. Still, mobilization of sufficient public opposition to construction of Keystone XL requires emphasis of its probable impact on the environment.  Most of the individuals likely to be sufficiently energized to act are on the left, and hence to be outraged at the impact on carbon emissions, drinking water, and climate change.

But... there is another factor,an additional reason to recognize construction of the pipeline is a scam foisted upon the American people by powerful corporate interests.  And it is the primary reason roughly two-thirds of the public support Keystone. Opposing this project, this website noted that in April

According to John Kemp, Reuters' Senior Market Analyst for Commodities and Energy, "if it is eventually given the go-ahead, Keystone will take crude from Alberta south across the United States to the U.S. Gulf Coast, from where it is likely to be loaded onto tankers for export via the expanded Panama Canal or the Cape of Good Hope to refineries in China, Korea and Japan... the problem for Keystone is that its original rationale of exporting oil to the United States has disappeared.  The replacement aim of exporting to China can be met more sensibly by developing a western pipeline across the Rockies."

Recently, MClatchy reported

Charles Ebinger , an energy expert at the center-left Brookings Insititution in Washington, said it is possible much of the Keystone oil flowing to the Gulf Coast could be exported.  It would carry Canadian oil so isn't covered by the U.S. law forbidding exports of American crude, he said.

And it could be exported as refined products the same as American oil already is, he said.  "You can't keep oil.  It's going to move to where market conditions direct it to move."

The Brookings Institution is largely a neo-liberal think tank, so it is unsurprising that sending oil abroad does not particularly concern Ebinger.  Funny it is that so many of the elite whose mantra is "energy independence" go squishy-soft when it comes to satisfying American consumers first.

 Industry supporters foster the assumption that domestic needs will be a priority..  Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), for instance, contends the pipeline will "help to counteract insufficient domestic oil supplies and reduce America’s dependence on less reliable foreign sources" and  "would help maintain adequate crude oil supplies for U.S. refineries and let us decrease dependence on foreign crude oil supplies from the Persian Gulf and Venezuela."  Representative Ed Marchi (D-Mass.) knows better, with Eleanor Clift explaining

At a congressional hearing in December, Markey asked the president of TransCanada if he would agree to allowing Keystone XL oil and its refined products to stay in the U.S. He said no. So Markey then proposed an amendment to that effect, and Republicans said no—that it couldn’t be done, because the market for oil is not just domestic; it’s global. What Canada wants to do, says Markey, “is create a connection between Alberta and Asia and use the United States as the place where the pipeline gets constructed. And so if that’s all we are is a middleman in this transaction, then the American people should know that.”

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