Year 4, Month 6, Day 8: Giving Kabuki A Bad Name

Political posturing? That’s the job description! The San Antonio News:

WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives passed legislation Wednesday that would speed construction of the Keystone XL pipeline — a largely symbolic measure with probably no chance of clearing the Democratic Senate and overcoming a presidential veto.

The bill approved 241-175 is the latest attempt by the Republican-controlled House to pressure the Obama administration to approve the pipeline that would transport oil sands crude from Canada to the Gulf Coast.

TransCanada Corp. first sought approval to build the border-crossing pipeline in 2005, and it likely will be many months or longer before the administration issues a final verdict on the project. Republicans accused the White House of foot-dragging and say the pipeline would ensure the United States uses more oil from a North American ally instead of hostile foreign regimes.


The backdrop for the debate over Keystone XL is a bigger fight over Canadian oil sands development. Environmentalists say the proposed pipeline would spur use of more energy-intensive extraction methods than those used for conventional crude, resulting in increased greenhouse gas emissions.

Pipeline backers insist that blocking Keystone XL will do little to inhibit oil sands development. Trains and other pipelines will carry the product to the Gulf Coast even without Keystone XL, these supporters say, even as other projects could deliver bitumen to Canada’s west coast for export to Asian markets.

By Grabthar’s Hammer, I detest these fucking frauds from the bottom of my flabby middle-aged heart. May 25:

Leaving aside the absurd political theater of passing a bill which even its sponsors agree is entirely symbolic, the supporters of Wednesday’s pro-Keystone XL legislation are flying in the face of facts — and Ms. Dlouhy’s article unfortunately shies away from challenging their illogical and indefensible positions.

That the pipeline requires energy-intensive methods is not just something that “environmentalists say,” but a simple factual statement about the technical requirements of extracting the tar sands bitumen. Nobody on either side of the ideological aisle disputes that these methods are messy, polluting, and generate higher levels of greenhouse emissions — although conservative lawmakers are overwhelmingly likely to assert (even as the Oglala aquifer runs dry and Oklahoma is hammered by devastating tornadoes) that the greenhouse effect poses no danger to our civilization.

As to the dangers posed by running a pipeline full of toxic crude across the continental US, perhaps we should ask the residents of Mayflower, Arkansas what they think. Leaks and spills are inevitable; rather than acceding to a business strategy that derives profits from the despoilation of the land, perhaps we’d be better off just leaving that dirty crude in the ground, and finding ways to conserve, reduce, and eventually eliminate our use of fossil fuels.

Warren Senders

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