Keystone XL: Some Americans Are About To Get Filthy; Some, Filthy Rich

Hey, you want to hear a dirty joke? TAR SANDS! I didn’t say funny; I said dirty. It doesn’t get any filthier than tar sands. And that’s what the big boys are trying to shove down the throats of unsuspecting Americans for the purpose of making a handful of people filthy rich off this filthy resource.

As you’re undoubtedly aware by now, the Keystone XL pipeline ran into a Senate roadblock recently, missing by one vote, passage without the threat of a filibuster. In the current lame duck session, 14 Democrats joined their oily Republican colleagues in trying to ram approval through the Senate, even through the last weeks of Democratic control.

Be assured of one thing. There will be a Keystone XL pipeline in your future; your very near future. The Republicans want it. The blue dogs want it. The State Department has blessed most of it and the president is vacillating like a football coach unsure whether to replace his quarterback in a close game. The fact of the matter is, the majority of the Keystone pipeline has already been built; 2,600 miles worth. The yucky junk won’t find its way into most of the U.S. until next year, though Texas refineries are already being supplied with light crude. There are 1,200 (well, 1,179) miles to go. The XL pipeline will begin at Hardisty, Alabama, extend to Steele City, Nebraska and fan out after that, ending up on the gulf coast.

With the opening of the 114th Congress, January 3, 2015, the Republican strategy is to put their new Senate majority to good use. They’ll either bulldoze the approval through or they might package it into one bill with something the Democrats crave. I’m betting the Democrat’s segment will be largely meaningless to the population as a whole. I’d demand amnesty and citizenship for undocumented immigrants in the U.S. and a new minimum wage of at least $9.50 for the entire working population, and then I’d add safety and environmental demands to the pipeline, itself. Prediction: The Republicans won’t need help from across the aisle, so they’ll offer nothing. So, given that within a few months at the longest, the Keystone XL section of the pipeline will begin construction, let’s take another close look at what we’re in for.

Let’s start at the source. Check out “Women’s eNews.” W-eNews is a somewhat obscure, but very informative, website. It features highly personal stories of what it’s like to be at the epicenter of the actual extraction and pipeline sites in Canada where this rancid crap originates and owning land in the U.S. coldly appropriated by TransCanada. I’ll let those most affected tell you at W- eNews.

If there’s one word to describe the TransCanada Keystone project, it’s exploitation; pure exploitation of the have-nots by the haves. That is, after all, the working definition of our culture. Greed, power and wealth in the hands of a few, enabled by the ridiculously uninformed, who will believe anything that comes from a core of racism and homophobia. Most of them are Republicans, and they vote in numbers sufficient to keep the right-wing political train running down the track.

Keystone is largely a pass-through to get the refined heavy crude product to the gulf coast, then to overseas markets with the major players escaping tax obligations along the way. Our population benefits nada. Gas prices won’t be impacted. Unless you work in the industry, you’ll see not a single additional penny in your pocket. What you will see, feel, hear and occasionally mourn, is listed in a collection of incidents of explosions, leaks, spills and assorted other accidents involving mostly oil and natural gas pipelines.

There was an oil and gas platform explosion 12 miles off the coast of New Orleans, Thursday, November 20th. A man was killed, 3 were injured, 1 seriously. In southwestern Weld County in Colorado, a Halliburton fracking accident claimed the life of Matthew Smith on the morning of November 13th, severely injuring two fellow workers. Smith took a blast of water measured at an estimated 3,500 – 4,500 psi. A fire hose averages 50 – 100 psi.

A Halliburton spokeswomen told the media, “Our thoughts and prayers are with our employee’s loved ones.”

Wiki has compiled a well-sourced roster of additional accidents from January 10, 2002 to October 28 of this year. The site goes back even further to the years from 1990 to 1997 to track Koch Industry fines of $35 million covering 300 separate Koch Industry pipeline leaks over that period.

Deaths (ranging from 4 and 5-year-old sisters to age 73), injuries, destruction of the environment and wildlife, sometimes irrevocable, huge property damage and displacement from homes; they’re all on the list that you can access here.

Another joy of tar sands, also known as bitumen or dilbit when it’s diluted, is its corrosive nature and peanut butter consistency. In its original form, it won’t flow through pipes. Therefore, it has to be diluted. Even in that altered state, it’s pure hell to clean up when it spills. A real life example goes back to July of 2010. A million gallons of diluted bitumen spilled into Talmadge Creek, which feeds into the Kalamazoo River near Marshall, Michigan. Much of the bitumen separated and sank to the bottom. It took over two years to basically clear a 35 mile section of the river of this dilbit obscenity. Parts of the river are still compromised. A new pipeline has been built, but oil deposits are STILL being cleaned up on the bottom of the Kalamazoo, nearly 4 -1/2 years after the fact.

An alleged positive result, oft-cited in defense of the pipeline, is the massive job totals that would accrue from XL’s construction and existence. Once built, few are able to refute the miniscule State Department figure of 35-50 jobs to keep the thing intact. As far as the two-year construction timeline is concerned, estimates range from 2,000 to 500,000 jobs. The most accepted figure originates from, again, the State Department. State’s number is 42,100, mostly temporary jobs. Only 3,900 construction jobs are included in that total with most other positions being support services. Will the pipeline be built in a year? If so, that would cut the 42,000 figure to tens of thousands of fewer jobs.

For final permission to build, a Presidential Permit is required. Congress challenged the president some time ago and he simply refused to sign it. In response, H.R.3 (the Northern Route Approval Act) was introduced in the house, eliminating that requirement. It passed by a large margin. Not a single Republican dared vote no. The whole process is now awaiting a Nebraska Supreme Court Decision to determine whether the Nebraska Public Service Commission must check out the pipeline before it can snake across the Cornhusker state. This, after a negative appellate District Court Decision. Once the Nebraska Supreme Court rules, President Obama has promised to either sign on or reject. There’s already a stretch of Keystone in the state.

The Presidential promise notwithstanding, if the decision goes against TransCanada, there would most likely be an appeal process that could go on and on.

So for now, progressives are essentially Pips, jumping ship (as in failing to vote) only to be rescued by Ahab “Bernie” Sanders before descending into impotent political madness and deeding all power to the “Great WHITE right-wing Whale.”

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