Yesterday (11/10/2011), the President delayed permitting of the Keystone XL pipeline, sending the issue back to the State Department for a thorough re-review. Many analysts say this victory for life on Earth will effectively kill the Keystone XL project.
Good news has become so rare that Obama’s decision today is a glaring, majestic affirmation of hope greater than at first it might seem.
Advocates call the Alberta tar sands, “oil sands”. Well, not “oil”, we are talking about bitumen. Tar. And we’re not talking about an “oil pipeline”, Keystone XL would be a highly-pressurized (1440 pounds per square inch) pipeline to squeeze along fiendishly-toxic, corrosive and abrasive “dilbit” (diluted bitumen) that has already taken almost as much fossil energy to extract as the dilbit contains. That’s an Energy Return On Energy Invested (EROEI) from hell.
For some background on this kind of pipeline.
The Keystone XL would be an artery through America’s heartland pumping dilbit under such extreme pressure that any leak would be a powerful geyser. Dilbit is normally 50% bitumen diluted with 50% naphtha (so it will “flow”), 0.5% of the mix being “sediment” (sand and other abrasives).
Many climatologists have said that if the carbon-bomb tar sands are extensively exploited it is “game over” for the biosphere.
From virtually every angle, the tar sands and the Keystone XL pipeline are a hideous danger to life on Earth. Corporate profits are about the only beneficiary, leading to the ultimate question: Are corporate profits more important than life on Earth?
The biosphere won a crucial victory today, but the war is far from over. The Tar War, a “theater engagement” in the global war of corporate profit versus … well, pretty much everything else. The whole affair has 1 percent versus 99 percent written all over it—written in tar. Amazingly, yesterday at least, our 99 percent won a battle.