According to Republicans, America is a truly exceptional nation which is highly debatable, and it is possible they conflate being the richest nation on Earth with exceptionalism, but for a wealthy exceptional nation, there is a gross lack of intelligence among a growing number of politicians. Intelligence is difficult to quantify, but among its many definitions are learning, retaining, planning, and problem solving, and one expects politicians to have rudimentary skills involving learning, planning, and problem solving. It is unfortunate, but Republicans and some Democrats fail the simplest test of intelligence in that despite real-world examples of actions that result in disasters, they plod ahead as if America’s exceptionalism will protect it from catastrophes regardless they are occurring right before their eyes.
Last week, the Senate held a symbolic vote to overrule President Obama and send him a message that he better approve the Keystone XL pipeline that sends Canadian tar sands to the Gulf Coast in spite of the inherent danger to America’s drinking water and prime agricultural land. The senators cited a Koch, ExxonMobil, and TransCanada study the State Department used to portray the pipeline as an environmentally friendly project that will create 35 permanent jobs, enrich Koch industries, and provide Europe and South America with refined oil while raising the price of fuel at least 20 cents a gallon for American consumers.
This week, the U.S. experienced two more different oil spills involving Canadian tar sands crude oil, and yet Republicans and their Democratic sycophants warned if President Obama fails to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, Congress will act, seize presidential power, and give the ecological disaster the green light. Nebraska Congressman Lee Terry accused the President of “using every bureaucratic trick and excuse in the book” to block it. Two years ago, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the “The Keystone XL pipeline is a no-brainer,” and Terry parroted Harper’s words in spite of Canada not allowing TransCanada to build the pipeline in Canada because of the certain environmental devastation. However, for Harper, Republicans, and oil-whore Democrats, building the pipeline across America’s agricultural bread basket is a “no-brainer” because enriching Koch Industries, John Boehner, and TransCanada is the intelligent thing to do for a truly exceptional nation.
The ExxonMobil pipeline rupture in Arkansas on Friday leaked 80,000 barrels of tar sands resulting in 22 homes being evacuated as officials struggled to clean up the world’s dirtiest oil. Tar sand is exceptionally difficult to clean up because it sinks into the Earth, and the Pegasus pipeline that ruptured only carries over 90,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil from Illinois to Texas for refining and export to Europe. The Keystone XL pipeline will carry nine times as much tar as the Pegasus pipeline, and engineers are still puzzled how to clean up a two-year old 1-million gallon spill in Marshall Michigan because the tar sank into the Earth. Tar sand is especially corrosive and it is estimated Keystone XL will rupture 91 times in 20 years and is so potentially dangerous that just a single spill would have devastating consequences for generations of Americans. Another TransCanada pipeline system ruptured 12 times in one year and despite two more within a week, Republicans are warning the President to approve the pipeline forthwith or they will do it themselves.
One has to wonder what level of intelligence it takes to ignore overwhelming empirical evidence, and two more tar sand spills in America, to continue pressuring the President to approve a certain environmental disaster just to enrich Koch Industries, John Boehner, and a foreign oil corporation. Every one of the Keystone XL advocates in the Senate know full well not one drop of refined tar sand will stay in America, and that the only beneficiaries are TransCanada and tar oil refineries such as those owned by Koch Industries. They also know when Keystone XL does rupture, it will decimate the Ogalla Aquifer that supplies drinking water to 2 million Americans, and wipe out groundwater for 20% of prime agricultural land, not to mention raising fuel prices by 20 cents a gallon. They also ignore the $820 million cost (so far) of cleaning up the 2010 Michigan tar spill that scientists and regulators still cannot remove from the riverbed or another spill in western Minnesota last week. This week, Exxon was fined $1.7 million for a similar spill in the Yellowstone River in 2011, and it led them to defend their safety record because they stand to reap great profits from Keystone XL, and that is why Republicans are pushing the hazardous project, and why no politician, no Democrat, and especially President Obama, will tell the American people Keystone only benefits big oil.
The only reason Republicans and some dirty Democrats are pushing KeystoneXL is to enrich a foreign oil corporation, Koch Industries, ExxonMobil, and Boehner who will increase contributions to pipeline advocates in spite of the certain ecological disasters and higher fuel costs to the American people. Readers will recall that after the catastrophic BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Republicans lined up to condemn President Obama for holding BP responsible and apologized that Americans expected the oil giant to pay for cleanup and restitution for the billions in damage to the Gulf Coast.
The two recent spills should debunk the Koch brothers, ExxonMobil, and TransCanada State Department report that gave the pipeline a clean bill of health as an environmentally friendly project that creates 35 jobs, higher fuel costs, and more record profits on top of the billions American taxpayers already heap on the oil companies. However, Republicans will continue threatening the President to approve the pipeline or they will do it for him, and claim it is a “no brainer” as scientists, engineers, and environmentalists struggle to clean up the two most recent spills. Republicans have spent the past four years faithfully attempting to destroy the economy, middle class, and social safety nets, so it is no surprise they are willing to destroy the environment in their never-ending crusade to enrich their high-value donors, and if it means Americans’ water, agriculture, and food supply is threatened, then they will say so be it because they are intelligent enough to know where their power comes from and it is not the American people.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.