At roughly 3:00 PM EST on the last day of January, the NY Times graced my email inbox with the headline, “Report may ease way to approval of Keystone pipeline.” According to the Times, a State Department study, many years in the making, thinks super-heating the globe through extraction of tar-sands oil is a magnificent contribution to the world’s climate.
None of this Keystone mess makes the least bit of sense. Not a single human on this ever-warming planet can follow each and every step of the inevitable process that guarantees the major oil companies will get whatever they want. Yes, ever-warming according to 98% of the world’s climate scientists, paying scant to zero attention to the bombastically uninformed Duck Dynasty groupies who think a cold winter in some parts of the world means that global warming is a hoax.
So let all rational, concerned and loving humans not blowing on duck calls agree; nobody concerned for the future of this country wants the Keystone XL Pipeline. A handful of Billionaires want it. Subsidized oil companies want it and politicians on the campaign take want it.
Delving deeper into the Time’s article, it doesn’t appear to make any difference whether the State Department or Secretary of State, Kerry or the eight other government agencies listed with at least partial jurisdiction over the project, want it or don’t want it. Big oil wants it. End of story.
The “study” supposedly yielded an 11-volume environmental impact statement for starters. Some State Department underling says he’s going to read it. I couldn’t care less what it says. Great sections are most likely pure BS as it’s already been revealed that some of the consultants that worked for the contractor that wrote the analysis had previously done work for TransCanada, the builder of the pipeline and the one entity that stands to benefit from its construction more than any other. Needless to say the booster front-page piece in the local right-wing paper neglected to include that crucial tidbit of information in their story.
So any A-kissing contained in the report is pure conflict of interest if the Times has their facts right. The study apparently applies to only the northern leg of the pipeline, running from Montana to Nebraska where the line will spider out in a web of smaller lines.
It was just announced that the TransCanada Southern leg has already started feeding their oil sands crap to Texas refineries. Approval of the Southern leg rested with the Army Corps of Engineers. Here are some Texas maps from an activist group bent on opposing this destructive project every step of the way. You want to muck up your groundwater (and any other number of chemical consequences) more than it already is with existing manufacturers given permission to muck and muck and muck? Welcome TransCanada’s pipeline snake to the further filthification of America.
While the apparently “fixed” State Department report should command little serious attention, I do trust a 2013 study of the Southern leg conducted by the estimable “Public Citizen” organization. They call their studious effort “The Public Citizen Report.” It was completed a couple of month ago. I don’t question their objectivity or their willingness to air the dirty laundry of the oil industry.
And dirty it is. Landowners and observers traveled the pipeline path from May through late June. Public Citizen, in addition to their own research, further solicited the cooperation and expertise of Evan Vokes, a one-time TransCanada engineer of five years standing. Who better as a source than a company insider? His department was responsible for construction standards so he knew exactly what questions to ask and what documents to examine. No BS’ing this guy.
The report begins with real-world examples of what can happen with the transport of tar-sands crude. A Kalamazoo cleanup is three years in the making. A spill in Mayflower, Arkansas yielded 30 toxic chemicals. Exposure could result in serious health problems. The consequences will be tracked.
While TransCanada was given 57 separate conditions of quality assurance, the Public Citizen people found endless examples of potentially problematical construction and corner-cutting problems that landowners and observers assigned to the contractor.
In one 250-mile stretch there were 150 anomalies (any imperfection in the wall of the pipe); in a 60-mile stretch, there were 70 more. Along the way, observers watched as new pipes patched to the gills were lowered into the ground. Public Citizen noted that a number of these new anomalies were replaced with new pipe sections. “Riddled” with patching is how witnesses described the pipe sections. The welds for these sections were not tested for durability or strength insofar as the process to measure these elements is not a requirement in the construction of the pipeline. The high pressure of the oil forced through the pipe could raise dangerous havoc with the integrity of even new pipe.
There has already been spillage (21,000 gallons) and a nasty explosion felt 40 miles away from two of the new pipes. As for paying attention to regulations, it should be noted that TransCanada brass apparently don’t take any code violations seriously. Engineer Vokes was shown the door “without cause” when he kept bitching about the company’s indifference to code requirements.
Owners of the land that were sites of the pipe-laying, testified to the lack of civility and, frankly skill, of the workers employed to bury the pipeline. One worker said a section had “dozens of anomalies” in a section of replacement pipe. An owner told of erosion and a lack of replacement of topsoil in his pasture. A worker installed a sump pump hose that was forcing silty water from a flooded trench into the landowner’s creek. To quote this gentleman, “Now I have a huge mess on my property and I’m concerned about what all this digging up of new pipe means for my future.” He was far from alone.
The Times quotes the State Department report as concluding that an increase of 17% more greenhouse gas emissions are created by tar sand burning and extraction over and above traditional oil releases. That’s an idiotic total when there exists no emergency whatsoever other than big oil’s bottom line. When the new oil started flowing to the gulf coast, oil prices went up 1.9% on a commodity process that was supposed to save the consumer money.
But the assorted and ongoing negatives mean nothing since Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has ordered the president to approve the project. “Mr. President, no more excuses. Please pick up that pen you’ve been talking so much about and make this happen. Americans need these jobs.” Such a scold is ironic given McConnell’s strident opposition to the “American Jobs Act” back in the fall of 2011. Or how about the Senate procedural ploy a year later to block a jobs bill specifically for veterans?
Thank you Public Citizen for exposing another planet-destroying sham purchased from greedy, and in large measure worthless, Representatives and Senators, mostly Tea Party Republicans.
This time the sky IS falling (and burning). What there is left of it that is.
Raised rural & small town, then lived in N.Y., Chicago & LA. Widely traveled. Returned from world wandering to pursue media life of anchorman/reporter and major, medium and small market talk radio. Highly active in politics. Once worked as orderly & security in Mens Lock Ward for the Criminally Insane at a state institution. Much more rational population than current Teapublicans. Great concern for country run by and for the extreme wealthy. The inhumane current running through this country has no precedent in modern history.
Follow me on Twitter @demwriter
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