Like many things in life, the Keystone XL pipeline project has so many shades of gray that it wouldn’t even make a decent comic book, let alone movie. Indeed, the more I look at it, there is simply no way to point a finger at just one villain, heroine or scapegoat and explain how this situation got to the colossal mess it is today. Perhaps the best way to convey it would be through something like commedia dell’arte.
Keep in mind that I have never said a nice thing EVER about the fossil fuel industry. In fact, I am literally making it my life’s work to put them out of business. Having said that, I can’t help but feel a little teeny tiny bit sorry for TransCanada. And it hurts my stomach to even type that, by the way. The twists and turns and intrigues and double crosses and switching of positions, and the probable pay-offs and back alley deals must be insanely difficult to keep track of, even for the most oil-soaked attorney. In fact, there is zero chance that I’m even going to try and summarize how this whole thing has gone down. The best, boiled down version I can find is, bizarrely, on Wikipedia. And even theirs is something like 30 pages if I were to print it out. And their attempt at summarizing KXL in an impartial way has still got some brazenly biased sentences scattered throughout, which I suspect will get “cleansed” at some point. However, for an overview, it’s as good as any. And it’s not “Keystone XL pipeline” on Wikipedia. It’s “Keystone pipeline.” Here’s the link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keystone_Pipeline
And if you think you know the whole story with all its twists and turns, I’d bet you a buck or two that there’s quite a bit you’ll have gotten wrong. I know that I sure had. Regardless of how complicated this chronology is, there ARE a few crystal clear facts about this project which have stayed true throughout the process:
1) The Alberta tar sands are an absolutely horrible idea. Tar sands oil is the most toxic fossil fuel on earth, and the processes used to extract and refine it leave in their wake an environmental catastrophe that we may never be able to recover from, given the fact that we are a species already perched on the precipice of our own extinction.
2) The sizable portion of Congress that have been spinning tales about the urgency and legitimacy of this project are liars. And flat out crooks. If they truly understand the issue and still advocate for it, they should be charged with a crime. If they are too dimwitted to understand the issue, then they should never have been elected. Either way, advocates of this project need to be forcibly removed from any position of responsibility or authority. Immediately.
3) The State Department has botched virtually every aspect of their supposed impartial assessment of KXL, and they have clearly been corrupted by the fossil fuel industry. President Obama has only been consistent in his inconsistency over these past six years regarding his intent to either allow passage of Keystone XL or to veto it. It would be utterly impossible to even guess at what, if any, strategy he has regarding the outcome of this mess.
4) The planet is reaching tipping points at a rate we cannot begin to comprehend. We are running out of time, and quite possibly, we are already circling the drain. We MUST wipe the filthy habit of burning fossil fuels from our collective energy portfolio. “All of the above” energy policy is beyond reckless and just means that increasingly aggressive extractive methods will continue with utter disregard for the future of human life.
And so, in the end, this project is not in the best interest of any living thing on earth. Not even the Koch brothers’, who stand to gain billions of dollars from Keystone XL, but who remain tragically short-sighted. Their insatiable greed has left them without even the most basic survival instincts. And since I’m being quasi-magnanimous, I’m assuming that they’re human.