Don’t Break What You Can’t Fix: Part I on the Keystone Pipeline Series
We’re back after about a week’s break (we’ve moved offices), and as promised, we are going to begin our series on the Keystone Pipeline project.
To fill in those who might wonder, we agree with those who say that Keystone is at minimum a poorly planned project that will do more damage than good (including economics) not only in the U.S. which is where the protest hit world attention, but in Canada, and in fact globally.
And as with the most effective presentations, it’s always good to start at the beginning.
Despite all the official “hype” about protecting America‘s energy security (starting with petroleum) that has certainly hit the mainstream in the last year or so, and was in fact a criticism of both the Iraq and Afghan Wars (i.e. that we went to war over the right to at least have access to if not control Middle Eastern and Asian oil), in fact, one of the most important issues to this debate has been routinely glossed over since at least 2002.
While there is no doubt that both wars were in fact fought in the interests of oil security, that was not really tied to national security but rather profit for multinational energy companies. This was very widely dispersed to the powers that be (including in Washington) in a very creditable report circa 2002 that in fact America imported (and still does) the majority of its oil from Canada. Our peaceful neighbor to the North.
Not Saudi Arabia. Not Iraq. Not via the pipeline that was once suggested to go through the Asian landscape in the general vicinity of where we fought in Afghanistan.
And while, yes the fact that the NRDC would probably qualify as the “professional left” the fact is that the environmental non-profit think tank is in fact a creditable organization who routinely produces reports and analysis based on data that is reasonably believable and untampered with.
This is one of the many reasons, by the way, that the business folks responsible for cooking up and building the Keystone Pipeline (who could certainly never qualify for the label Mr. Gibbs apparently would label the NRDC) decided that their project would fly.
Our oil supply (which they supposedly seek to emulate, at least in their pr for the project) was the status quo already, despite the false information and propaganda that led us into two very costly wars in the past decade. And the corporate creators of the Keystone Project figured it could be justified using the same old tired logic.
Specifically, that theirs was an energy source that would provide “national energy security” if not “trade” between friendly neighbors (which could not be further from the truth). Not to mention the fact that the approval process would be for them relatively easy, because of the way this approval would be handled if they planned their pipeline to head south to Texas refineries.
A path that led also through the U.S. State Department and the White House.
Apparently the originators of this project figured the U.S. State Department if not 1600 Penn, arguably the if not one of the top diplomatic departments and political executive offices on the planet, would be easier to deal with than having to negotiate with about five indigenous tribes the pipeline would otherwise have to go through to get the tar sands to refineries and prepped for export in Canada (the shortest and most direct route to Canadian refineries and ports).
And they were in fact correct.
We’ll deal with the politics of this project in another blog post which have to do with global international relations going back a century or five.
Now back to Canada.
From an environmental perspective alone, this project is damaging to Canadians and North Americans on a strictly economic basis (we’ll explain in detail in a coming part of the series) but also from an environmental perspective. This is because the tar sands from whence the “oil” would be extracted, lie right beneath the surface of what are known as Boreal Forests and the Boreal eco-system, which this project would destroy by literally stripping off the trees and topsoil to get to the tar sands beneath.
That action would also contribute massively to global climate warming. Here’s why.
The Canadian Boreal Forest ecosystem, represents about 1.3 billion pristine acres and are larger than even the Amazon rainforest. In other words, this area of the world is the site of nearly 50% of the world’s remaining intact forests. It is the world’s largest and most important carbon storehouse, holding 22% of the global total carbon stored on the earth’s surface. That would be twice as much carbon per unit area as tropical rainforests.
Furthermore, peatlands (the soil within the Boreal eco-system) account all by themselves, for storing another 30% of all land based carbon (which is released into the atmosphere when such peatlands are destroyed as they would be in the Keystone project.) While they cover about 12% of Canada’s total land area (which is where they are primarily found), they only constitute about 3% of the total surface area of the planet. Peatlands also retain, purify and deliver fresh water and support numerous species of wildlife and plants. In fact, the Boreal wetlands filter millions of gallons of water every day (easily beating any human engineered solution and of course for free).
So to sum up just the environmental costs here, if the tar sands become a “petroleum” source, they create about a 50% IMMEDIATE INCREASE in the world’s dangerous CO2. Not to mention what that would also do to the water supply.
When it comes to economics, let’s also start with the basics.
80% of Canada’s indigenous population (Canadian Indians in other words) make their homes and living from boreal resources in ways that do not destroy the source of their livelihood. There is a reason, apart from the lax oversight at State, that the Keystone folks didn’t relish negotiating access through the native tribes to the coast (supposedly the “other” alternative to going through North America to Texas). There is no price Keystone could pay the tribes and no terms they could ever come up with that could convince said tribes that Keystone’s “necessity” wouldn’t destroy their economies, communities, tribes, and ways of life. That’s about 1.2 million people.
Keystone, in just this aspect alone and just in Canada, would create the same end result as the Holocaust did for Jews in Germany, albeit “only” affecting 1/6 of the number of Jews exterminated in Germany in the middle of the last century. But don’t worry, that’s just the start of it.
When it comes to the direct bottom line costs of the carbon pollution alone, assuming that carbon credits (a financial instrument that is earned by activities that reduce CO2 by the ton), that means that the economic damage to the planet as measured by big institutional banks by Keystone, would be in the (at least) hundreds of trillions of dollars range if one uses say the average cost of even a voluntary, “non-compliance” carbon credit (which runs about $4 per ton.) Not to mention looking at say what that impact would do on insurance companies.
And to put this little exciting bit of news in even greater perspective, the Japanese are finally admitting that global warming caused catastrophes (including that little Tsunami that caused the worst nuclear disaster globally since Chernobyl) has directly and negatively affected not only their car production revenue stream as a nation, but their supply chain.
In other words, catastrophic economic damage.
And that was just one little Tsunami in current conditions.
For these very reasons, the American public if not politicians and of course the ENTIRE BUSINESS COMMUNITY, large and small, have a lot to learn from that lesson set out for them by the Canadian tribes. If not the admission of the Japanese government lately.
If there every was a “pipeline” to hell, Keystone would be it.
And this, remember is just the beginning of the many, many issues that should have derailed this project long before it ever left Canada. Not to mention reaching any American president’s desk in the Oval Office for approval.
Scared yet? If not, there’s more coming.
- The Pipeline for the One Percent (indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com)
- Planned Oil Pipeline Must Cross Pine Ridge’s Water-Delivery System (indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com)
- Alberta leader’s trip to U.S. overtaken by Keystone delay (canada.com)
- Our Energy Future Rests on Obama (indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com)
- Will Obama Bring the “Dirtiest Oil on Earth” to Texas? (texasgreenreport.wordpress.com)
- State Department Announces Reevaluation of Keystone XL Tar Sand Pipeline (campusblueprint.com)
- Canada’s Boreal Forest (indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com)
- Tar Sands Action Leads to Change – Beacon Broadside (beaconbroadside.com)
- Oilsands growth continues, with or without Keystone (cbc.ca)
- Pipeline protesters to hold hands, encircle White House (cnn.com)
- Tar-Sands Showdown: The Fight Over the Future of Energy (wired.com)
- Keystone XL Is Self-Destructive. Does the Obama Administration Need to Be Also? (bittman.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Editorial: Wrong Pipeline, Wrong Assessment (nytimes.com)
- newshour: A map of the proposed Keystone XL, also called Tar… (shortformblog.tumblr.com)
- Thousands Circle White House to Protest TransCanada Pipeline – BusinessWeek (businessweek.com)
- Climate scientist willing to face arrest at tar sands pipeline protest (guardian.co.uk)
- NCAI Condemns Keystone XL Pipeline (indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com)
- An Open Letter From George Poitras on the Keystone XL Pipeline (indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com)
- Peatland carbon storage is stabilized against catastrophic release of carbon (eurekalert.org)
- Tribal Leaders Offer Last Push Against Keystone XL Pipeline (indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com)
- Report Finds Canada’s Boreal Forest Key to World’s Survival (indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com)