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Obama should block Keystone pipeline project


Published:   |   Updated: July 19, 2013 at 05:06 PM

Across Quebec this past Saturday, vigils were held for those killed in last week's oil tank train explosion in Lac Megantic. This tragedy raises new discussion on environmental health and public safety in regards to the transportation of fossil fuels. For the United States, it has yet again energized the national debate over the Keystone XL Pipeline.

The proposed Keystone pipeline would transport up to 35 million gallons of oil each day from Canada's tar sands across 1,700 miles of the Great Plains, prairies, aquifers and yes, even households of our continent to Texas refineries, where it would be mostly sold to foreign markets where prices are higher.

Tar sands are heavy crude oil mixed with sand and a black, oily, viscous material, bitumen. To harvest the tar sands, an area larger than Florida will be mined in Canada's great Boreal forest, the largest intact forest on Earth. Natural gas - from fracking - will create the heat necessary to melt the oil out of the sand. This procedure will produce three times the greenhouse gas emissions of conventional oil, not to mention the incredible amount of water wasted in the process.

President Barack Obama has a decision to make: to OK or to veto the pipeline. He has not voiced his position on Keystone and has made great efforts to let industry know that he will do everything in his power to make construction OK. He has green-lighted construction in Oklahoma and Texas and signaled approval of the pipeline in his big climate speech the other week. Supporters cheer that he said construction would not go forward if the pipeline would have significant climate impacts. Cool, but a State Department report has already claimed construction of the pipeline would not have such impacts.

The contractor hired by the administration to conduct the State Department's environmental impact statement of the pipeline, Environmental Resources Management, has professional relationships with TransCanada, the corporation in charge of the Keystone project, as well as other major corporations active in tar sands including Exxon, Shell, Chevron, Conoco Phillips, Total and Syncrude.

To libertarians this is not surprising. Crude, pardon the pun, but not surprising. The state has a history of loyal service to major corporations and special interests, even at the expense of its supposed constituent population

"Forward" was the Obama Administration's 2012 campaign slogan. Move forward by joining the liberation movement. Tear down institutional walls and build a free society.

Grant Mincy, who is from Tennessee, is a contributor for the Center for a Stateless Society.

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