Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Wacky World of the Keystone XL Pipeline Proposal

The saga of the Keystone XL pipeline seems to have more twists than The Da Vinci Code. Just when it seems that the project to bring tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada to oil refineries in our leading greenhouse gas producing state, Texas, has been rejected it invariably regains life in some new form. You just can’t kill this thing. Yet another Wach-A-Mole project to keep climate activists like Bill McKibben wacking away. McKibben actually is probably partly responsible for beginning these strange turn of events when he and about 1,200 other people got arrested in front of the White House protesting the pipeline which must have put the project on Barack Obama’s political radar screen. To make sure the president got the message McKibben later got about 5,000 people to surround the White House in another protest. Also, much of the state of Nebraska making noise about what this potentially polluting pipeline could do the aquifer that they rely on for water was heard by Obama. Then after Obama decided to delay the decision to after the election the Republicans came up with the bright idea of attaching approval of the pipeline to bills that Obama wants to sign. On their first attempt Obama turned down the project, saying there was not enough time to review the changes, so the Republicans simply keep attaching it to more bills. And now the never-say-die company that wants to build the pipeline, TransCanada, came up with their own bright idea, to break the project into two parts. The southern part would extend from Oklahoma to Texas and since it would not cross the border from Canada it will not need State Department approval making life much easier for TransCanada.

Somehow it looks like this thing will be built, or will it? Waiting in the wings just in case TransCanada or the Republicans eventually give up is an existing pipeline that goes from Portland, Maine to Montreal. This pipeline now brings oil from Maine to Canada but if the flow is reversed a pipeline from Alberta to Montreal could be built and no State Department approval would be needed to get the tar sands oil to Portland. Wack! Wack! Wack!

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