Year 4, Month 8, Day 3: Just Shoot Me

The Chicago Tribune comes down heavily on the side of the predators:

North American railroads typically transport oil and other hazardous materials with care and caution. Yet the disastrous train wreck in Lac-Megantic on the U.S.-Canadian border points to the risks involved. A runaway train carrying crude oil exploded in a fireball, devastating the town.

In all commerce, public safety risks have to be weighed. This frightening crash points to a fact of life in the shipment of the continent’s fast-growing supplies of oil and gas. Pipelines are the safest means of transit, safer than trucks and trains. Safer for people. Safer for the environment.

Yes, this is an argument for the Keystone XL pipeline.

This page has voiced strong support for the privately funded $7 billion pipeline, which would connect the rich Canadian oil sands with U.S. refineries at the Gulf of Mexico and create thousands of jobs.

This is maddening, albeit predictable. July 16:

To assert that “pipelines are the safest means of transit” as an argument for approving the Keystone XL is a bizarre rhetorical evasion based on the unfounded assumption that the dangerous and dirty tar sands oil will inevitably be extracted and transported across the continental US.

This is like an emphysema patient rationalizing, “having purchased all these cigarettes, I must smoke them — but I’ll use a filter, which is safer.” Far better, obviously, to leave the tobacco unburned in the first place.

The question of pipelines’ safety record may be forever unresolvable: which is worse, an explosive train derailment or a massive leak over a vulnerable aquifer? But what has been resolved conclusively is that CO2 emissions from the Canadian Tar Sands are more than enough to trigger runaway climate change on an order far greater than any we’ve yet experienced. The Keystone pipeline is a disaster in the making.

Warren Senders

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