Keystone XL Pipeline: Down but not Out

On November 18, Senate Democrats derailed Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline plans. For now. Republicans controlling next year’s 114th Congress vowed to continue fighting for passage. It remains to be seen what follows.

Obama is veto-shy. Twice only so far. Compared to GW Bush’s 12. Including pocket vetoes. Clinton’s 37. Reagan’s 78. Dwight Eisenhower’s 181. Truman’s 250. FD Roosevelt’s astonishing 635. Overriding presidential vetoes seldom happens.

Throughout US history, presidents vetoed legislation 2,564 times. Overridden 110 times. Around 4% of the time.

Tuesday’s Senate roll call fell one vote short of passage – 59 to 41. One additional vote approves construction.

A nearly 1,700 mile, $7.6 billion project. Alberta, Canada to Port Arthur, TX pipeline. Transporting around 830,000 toxic tar sands oil from Western Canada to refineries on America’s Gulf coast daily.

Risking enormous potential environmental pollution. Passing through hugely ecologically sensitive areas. In six states.

Including the Missouri and Red Rivers. Other important waterways. The Ogallala Aquifer. One of the world’s largest. Supplying about 30% of America’s irrigation ground water. Vital for human consumption.

Friends of the Earth commented earlier, saying KXL “will carry one of the world’s dirtiest fuels: tar sands oil.”

Its route “could devastate ecosystems and pollute water sources, and would jeopardize public health.”

Spill damage potential is enormous. Tar sands oil sinks. It doesn’t float. Making cleanup tough. Extremely costly. In summer 2010, a million gallons of tar sands oil polluted Kalamazoo River waters. Costing nearly $1 billion for cleanup.

Dozens of miles of river water remain contaminated. Imagine exponentially greater damage from larger spills. Virtually guaranteed. KXL will double America’s dirty tar sands oil supply. Increasing environmental toxicity exponentially. What most people don’t understand.

Canadian tar sands oil lie beneath the world’s largest intact ecosystem. Alberta’s Boreal forest. An important carbon sink. Biodiversity rich. Unspoiled bodies of water. Supporting large populations of numerous species. A buffer against climate change. Food and water shortages. Extracting tar sands oil destroys forests. Endangers indigenous populations.

It doesn’t matter. Big Oil wants it. So do Republicans and conservative Democrats. Congressional passage virtually assures Obama’s approval.

He’s beholden to Big Oil. Throughout his political career. Strongly pro-business and then some. His Senate voting record supported strip-mining on public and private land. Backed secretly drafted Bush administration energy policy. Rhetorically opposed it. Saying one thing. Doing another. Consistently throughout his career. Supports vastly expanded nuclear power. Lax industry regulations. Billions of dollars in subsidies. Other handouts demanding rejection.

Biofuels production. Other agribusiness interests. Harmful to human health GMO foods and ingredients. A corporate stooge and then some. Ralph Nader calling him the greatest “con man (ever) in the White House.” A corporatist “from A to Z.”

An earlier so-called State Department Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) lied. Claiming no risk to health and safety. More on this below.

TransCanada Corporation will build KXL if approved. Spill-prone and then some. Assuring trouble.

Earlier promising Keystone I would leak at most once every seven years. In year one, 12 leaks occurred. One a month on average. Unprecedented in US pipeline history. NASA scientist James Hansen calls KXL “a fuse to the largest carbon bomb on the planet.”

All pipelines spill. Avoidance impossible. Large-scale environmental damage too great a price to pay. TransCanada said up to 700,000 gallons of tar sands crude leak without detection. Safeguards are weak. Pathetically ineffective.

Corporate officials intimidate landowners. Along pipeline routes. Apparent in previous construction. Contractually abusing eminent domain. Stealing land. Forcing owners to accede to their demands.

Expect more of the same for KXL. Water contamination certain. Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer (CWA) threatened. In March 2011, water resources & environmental engineer/consultant Lawrence Dunbar called CWA spillage  environmentally disastrous.

Hugely impacting human and natural resources. Contamination making water resources unfit for human consumption.

CWA “is one of the greatest assets of the East-Central region of Texas,” said Dunbar. Providing “water for agriculture, industry, and human consumption.”

Far too valuable to contaminate. KXL assures it. Remediation hard to impossible to achieve.

Destroying more jobs than it creates. Claims otherwise lacks credibility. At best, less than 5,000 temporary jobs created. Disappearing as completed construction progresses. Insignificant in putting Americans back to work.

Green investments are job-creation machines. Potentially millions when most needed. Over an extended period of time.

Exporting tar sands oil won’t reduce US dependence on foreign supplies. Prioritizing them is planned. At issue is selling at the highest possible price.

KXL violates tribal sovereignty. The Indigenous Environmental Network’s “Mother Earth Accord” opposes tar sands development for good reason. Protecting tribal lands matters more. Safeguarding them from toxic contamination.

TransCanada won’t disclose an analysis of chemical dilutants used. Facilitating transport of tar sands oil through KXL. At issue are human and environmentally destructive substances.

The Pipeline Hazardous Material Safety Administration said pipeline regulations weren’t crafted with tar sands oil in mind.

They’re woefully inadequate. Require strengthening. Don’t expect it. Business as usual persists.

On January 31, the State Department released its EIS report. Its analysis rigged to deceive. Methodologically lacking credibility.

Falsely claiming minimal potential environmental contamination. KXL’s southern area “Gulf Coast Project” failed to conduct its own environmental assessment.

Issues related to the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer, wild fires, droughts, and others weren’t examined.

Friends of the Earth (FOE) said: “The State Department’s environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline is a farce. Since the beginning of the assessment, the oil industry has had a direct pipeline into the agency.”

“Perhaps most frustrating, is the apparent collusion between the State Department, oil industry and the Canadian government.”

“In what could be perceived as eagerness to please the oil industry and Canadian government, the State Department is issuing this report amidst an ongoing investigation into conflicts of interest, and lying, by its contractor.”

“It is unacceptable that the oil industry and a foreign government are better informed than the American Congress and its citizenry.”

“By letting the oil industry influence this process, Secretary Kerry is undermining his long-established reputation as a leader in the fight against climate change.”

“President Obama can end this charade; sufficient scientific data exists to justify denying the Keystone XL pipeline.”

“It is a simple matter of having the political will, and courage, to stand up to the oil industry. This decision is a defining moment in his environmental legacy.”

Last September, FOE said: “(F)rom day one, the State Department’s review of the pipeline (was) polluted by conflicts of interest, insider lobbying and the heavy hand of Big Oil.”

State Department officials relied on TransCanada contractors for their report. Doing so represents egregious conflict of interest writ large. Relying on Big Oil/TransCanada interests excludes responsible analysis.

Obama has plenty of credible reasons to reject KXL. So far ignoring them.

The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) said: “Thousands of people around the country (reject) dirty tar sands oil… (F)rom farmers and ranchers… to families… concerned about (safe) drinking water…”

“To Americans everywhere” wanting clean energy. NWF wants KXL blocked. It’s too dangerous to allow.

Urging ordinary people to speak out. Petition Congress. Demand KXL’s rejection. The Sierra Club urged “no more Big Oil pipeline spills that endanger our water.”

KXL “threaten(s) (it for) two million Americans.” TransCanada’s environmental record is deplorable.

Last November, Public Citizen published a report titled “TransCanada’s Keystone XL Southern Segment: Construction Problems Raise Questions About the Integrity of the Pipeline.”

Highlighting safety issues. Documenting problems. Including “excessive bending or sagging, and pealing patches of field coating applied to cover damage on pipe about to be placed into the ground.”

“Anomolies” in pipe “buried for months include “dents, sags, and other problems that could lead to spills or leakage of toxic tar sands crude.”

Public Citizen saying “government should investigate…” Shouldn’t let “crude flow until that is done.”

“Given the stakes – the potential for a catastrophic spill of hazardous crude along a pipeline that traverses hundreds of streams and rivers and comes within a few miles of some towns and cities – it would be irresponsible to allow the pipeline to start operating.”

During Keystone I construction, TransCanada made 50 special conditions pledges. Violated 47. A virtually unprecedented record.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) urged stopping KXL. Constructing it alone risks enormous potential environmental damage.

Transporting the world’s dirtiest oil assures it. Uncaring about public health concerns. Wealth, power and privilege alone matter.

Rising Tide North America confronts corporate power. Called Tuesday’s Senate defeat a “hollow victory.”

Real ones come from people power. Committed activism. Supporting safe, clean renewables. Over drill baby spill.

Including solar, wind, tide-power, geothermal energy, biomass non-food energy crops, wave power and other eco-friendly technologies. A windfall waiting to be used.

Freeing societies from oil, gas, coal and nuclear. Environmental  pioneer Lester Brown calls hydrogen “the dominant (eco-economy) fuel.” Easily stored for use as needed. “Perfect support for an energy economy with wind and solar power…the main pillars.”

Hydrogen from water is limitless. So is solar power. Producing green hydrogen. Safe, clean renewables prevent ecocide.

No shortage of renewable energy resources exists. Struggling for eco-sanity continues.

Stephen Lendman wrote How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War. Contact him at: Also visit his blog site and listen to The Global Research News Hour on Mondays from 11AM-1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests. All programs are archived for easy listening. Read other articles by Stephen.