Year 2, Month 9, Day 6: Y’all Are A Buncha Sissies!

The September 1 issue of the Ithaca Journal (NY) has a guest columnist whose take on the Keystone XL is shrill:

The Keystone XL Pipeline Project is being proposed as a way to bring oil from the tar sands of Alberta to the refineries of the Gulf Coast. It is a project that has alarmed thousands of environmentalists and launched one of the largest acts of civil disobedience in the history of environmentalism in this country. As of Aug. 28, 381 people have been arrested and 2,100 have committed themselves to do likewise.

What has caused this concern? In the words of NASA scientist James Hansen, the pipeline is “a 1,500-mile fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the continent, a way to make it easier and faster to trigger the final overheating of our planet.”

Simply being another source of non-renewable petroleum is not the only concern. Turning the tar sands into usable energy makes it one of the world’s dirtiest fuels. It takes three barrels of water to create one barrel of oil. The amount needed is staggering: 400 million gallons of water per day, with 90 percent of that water going into tailing ponds which become home to a toxic sludge containing, among other things, cyanide and ammonia.

Indeed. I took advantage of their 200-word limit and let myself stretch out; I’m in a hurry tonight and didn’t have time to write a shorter letter:

The Keystone XL pipeline is much, much more than just a disaster waiting to happen. This ill-begotten project has potential for short-term environmental impacts (spills, leaks, aquifer contamination, habitat destruction), medium-term damage (deforestation and loss of carbon sequestration capability), and devastating long-term consequences (climatologist James Hansen puts it simply, saying that burning the oil in the Alberta tar sands would be “game over” for the climate). In other words, the pipeline offers us a chance to trigger catastrophes on multiple time scales, ruining lives and ecologies for years, decades, centuries and millennia.

Gosh. We must really need that oil if we’re willing to risk so many levels of destruction. Well, actually, it turns out TransCanada isn’t planning to sell that oil on the American market; a recent study from Oil Change International shows conclusively that it’s headed for overseas markets, leaving America nothing but irreversible environmental damage.

On the other hand, a few extremely wealthy oil-industry magnates are going to get even richer. Perhaps they’ll let some of that wealth trickle down on the rest of us. What could possibly go wrong?

Warren Senders

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