Categories: Featured News

House Republicans Praise Exxon for Arkansas Oil Spill That Taxpayers are Cleaning Up

To listen to Republicans drone on about their favorite subjects based on what appears to be strongly held beliefs despite superior empirical evidence to the contrary, it is obvious they are either pathological liars or suffer from the pathological disorder known as delusion. In fact, as pathology, delusion is completely different than a person’s belief based on false or incomplete information or dogma, and they typically occur in the context of mental illness, but in Republicans’ cases, they are just lying. The latest purveyor of oil industry sophistry is a freshman congressman from Oklahoma who exposed himself as either monumentally deluded, or an industry spokesman for big oil, and to hear him praise the company responsible for flooding an Arkansas neighborhood with tar sand, it is readily apparent the oil and gas industry paid him a hefty speaking fee for the glowing testimonial he gave on Exxon and TransCanada’s behalf.

The Republican representative, Markwayne Mullin (pick a first name already), was speaking during a House legislative hearing for the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources with a panel of oil industry executives advising Republicans how to “approve the construction, operation, and maintenance of the Keystone XL pipeline” (H.R.3), because although it is the purview of the President, recent events in Washington reveal that neither the President nor Congress runs the government any longer. Mr. Mullin praised Exxon for the Pegasus pipeline spill that spewed tar sand enriched with diluted bitumen in an Arkansas neighborhood and suffocated scores of animals with chemical-laden tar. Mullin argued that the Arkansas spill is further evidence that the Keystone XL pipeline is a really a safe bet for Americans. According to Markwayne, environmentalists are “making a big deal about this ExxonMobil spill. I think they should be patted on the back,” and that “they showed an example of what could be done when the next catastrophe happens.”

Markwayne then went on an exposition about the potential for catastrophes inherent in “shipping oil across the oceans” because “we’re buying oil from the Middle East that sponsors the acts that we see like at the Boston Marathon that we just saw yesterday,” inferring the Keystone pipeline will protect the environment, protect against terror attacks, and deprive countries responsible for “acts that they support” from supplying oil to America.  Setting aside Markwayne’s pathetic attempt to conflate tragedy with Keystone XL approval, the oil industry that funded Mullin’s campaign knows full well that every drop of refined tar will be promptly loaded onto cargo vessels for “shipping oil across the oceans” because America is the top oil exporter in the world, and Canada’s tar is already slated for export to Europe and South America.

Mullin’s contention that Keystone will reduce American dependency on Middle East oil was soundly debunked by an analysis by Department of Energy contractor, Ensys Energy, in December 2010 that found that the pipeline would have no impact on Middle East imports because the only Keystone XL oil Americans will see is when the pipeline ruptures and decimates the environment Exxon claimed had a silver lining in Arkansas. According to Exxon, the spill in Mayflower was good for residents because the wildlife ravaged with tar and bitumen were mostly reptiles, primarily venomous snakes. However, the Helping Arkansas Wild Kritters (HAWK) Center, which worked to help scores of animals hurt by the March 29 spill, “has not rescued any venomous snakes, but has cared for many birds.”

Regardless what Markwayne and  Exxon claim about the benefits of the Arkansas tar sand spill, Exxon has been criticized for publicly dismissing the damage and size of the spill, and because of a special exemption that applies to tar sands crude, Exxon is exempted from paying taxes toward the Federal Oil spill Liability Trust fund. American taxpayers will foot the bill for the cleanup as a show of appreciation to Exxon in lieu of a hearty “pat on the back” Mullin claims they deserve. It is noteworthy that the Enbridge tar sands pipeline spill in Michigan that happened in 2010 still has parents concerned about the long-term health effects of having such toxic substances seep into areas where children play. Exxon, and Transcanada, will never have to concern themselves with cleanup costs of future catastrophic tar spills because a 1980 law ensures diluted bitumen (tar) is not classified as oil, and as Oil Change International said last week, “the great irony of this tragic spill in Arkansas is that the transport of tar sands oil through pipelines in the US is exempt from payments into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. Exxon, like all companies shipping toxic tar sands, doesn’t have to pay any clean-up costs for the pipeline’s inevitable spills.”

Republicans have been avid and obedient oil industry servants for decades, and there is little doubt they will continue spreading oil industry sophistry about the benefits of environment destroying pollutants whether they come from oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, oil tankers in Alaska, or the Keystone XL pipeline slated for oil industry and Koch approval through their slaves in the Republican Party. Three years ago a Republican in Congress apologized profusely to BP for making them pay for the cleanup and restitution after their oil platform blew up and spewed millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, and on Tuesday another Republican praised Exxon for their snake-killing tar spill in Arkansas, and it reveals to Americans that there are no lengths the GOP will avoid to allow the oil industry to destroy the environment and then charge taxpayers for the cleanup. If Republican protection is not bad enough, the Koch brothers fund major attempts in states and federal level to eliminate environmental and renewable energy standards with willing assistance from Republicans and their legislative arm the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

There are still three days for the public to comment on the pipeline’s construction ahead of the impending Republican Keystone XL approval, but at this point it appears to be a futile exercise. Republicans have lied about the number of jobs the pipeline will provide, lied about consumers having access to the oil, touted Keystone’s environmental protection benefits, and now praised Exxon and expects Americans to give them a “pat on the back” for saddling taxpayers with the cost of cleaning up their tar spill.

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