As we await President Obama’s veto of the Keystone XL pipeline, expected later today, news outlets far and wide are recapping the evolution of the debate. Unfortunately, the headlines often focus on the economy and only mention some vague connection to the environment. In reality, the Keystone XL battle isn’t just about money. It is about reducing fossil fuel emissions and protecting the land necessary for our food and water supplies.
Our global economy is addicted to fossil fuels. We’re like a junkie who needs a fix or a cat who needs its catnip. Everyday we use more and more of this stuff without the understanding that we’re harming ourselves and everyone around us. We’re approving pipelines, drilling shale gas wells and trying to convince ourselves that we’re burning ‘cleaner’ fossil fuels. News flash: there’s no such thing as a ‘clean fossil fuel.’
Focusing on Keystone XL, as the news headlines are pretty much obsessed with nowadays, the fight has been going on for over 5 years now. Grassroots movements and collaborations with big greens has been effective at holding off money-hungry politicians, but we’re still seeing pushback from congress and, more recently, the state of Nebraska, who just overturned a lower court’s ruling that said the construction was unconstitutional.
Image via Shutterstock
I still don’t understand why people are so excited about oil and tar sands if it means sacrificing our climate. More so––since climate-deniers are far-spread in this country and more broadly the world––I don’t understand why no one is paying attention to the route of the Keystone XL. That route crosses over the heart of America’s croplands, the Ogallala aquifer responsible for providing drinking water to millions of people, and the sensitive ecosystem of the Sandhills of north-central Nebraska. Still, it’s the top of congress’ agenda to approve it. Even though if a spill happened, which is likely, the consequences would be more than devastating to some of our most important food and drinking water sources. Our priority is to make sure that doesn’t happen – and there’s that whole climate change thing, too, of course.
Obama’s thoughts on Keystone XL are the following: 1) It’s good for Canadian oil companies, but not for U.S. consumer. 2) There are more direct ways to create well-paying American construction jobs. 3) If the project goes forward he wants to make sure it isn’t adding to the problem of climate change, which is serious and bears significant costs on the American people. 4) More flooding, wildfires, and droughts from climate change would mean direct economic impacts. 5) Keystone was never going to be the answer for lowering gas prices because the oil would go into the world market.
Image via Tar Sands Blockade
Still, those who approve of KXL say it will be good for the economy by bringing jobs and making the U.S. less dependent on foreign oil. First of all, in case these GOP’ers forgot, the tar sands are coming from Canada (not the U.S) and are still foreign. Second, the amount of permanent jobs KXL would bring is laughable. It’s 35, if you were wondering, which is less than the amount of employees in an Apple Store at most points in time. And there still aren’t enough people in there to help you out when your planned obsolesce demon-of-a-mobile-device decides to wig out, shut off, or otherwise fail in its supposed attempts to make your life easier to manage. I suspect something similar would be happening with Keystone XL because there isn’t enough pipeline monitoring as it is.
President Obama has already said he’s going to veto any bill that passes his desk related to the approval of Keystone XL. That should be the end of the argument, but we need to keep the pressure on. We need to protect our water, our food, our air, and our climate for future generations. I’m sure the Keystone XL bill will keep returning. But I’m also sure that there will always be more people to fight it when it comes back around.
Lead image via Shutterstock, all others as credited.