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The Question No One Is Asking About Keystone XL

Wednesday, 30 January 2013 14:44 By The Daily Take Team, The Thom Hartmann Program | Op-Ed
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Right now in Texas, a foreign corporation, TransCanada, is using our government's 5th Amendment right of eminent domain to confiscate private land belonging to Americans, to build a massive oil pipeline so TransCanada can ship oil from the Gulf of Mexico to non-Americans around the world. Oil, by the way, that will accelerate our planet’s plunge into global warming-induced catastrophe.

So the question is, “Why?”

Last year, President Obama approved the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline, which will transport deadly Canadian tar-sands oil from Oklahoma down to the Gulf of Mexico in Texas where it will be refined and then promptly placed on oil rigs to be sold in South America, Europe, and Asia. They get the oil; we get the poison coming out of the refinery smokestacks.

Odds are little of oil from the Keystone XL pipeline will make it into American markets. According to TransCanada itself, this project will NOT reduce the price of gas in the United States (it will actually increase gas prices in the Midwest). It will not reduce our dependence on foreign oil. It will create only a few thousand temporary jobs. And it will put our land and underground aquifers at risk of oil contamination, while presenting to terrorists a sweet little thousand-mile-long target they can take out with a bit of dynamite.

And rather than slowing climate change, this pipeline will take us over the tipping point. Environmentalists like Bill McKibbin call it a “ticking time bomb” for the environment. And NASA scientist James Hansen calls completion of the pipeline “game over for the planet.”  

So, again, why is construction of this pipeline allowed to continue?

Why would a foreign corporation push so hard that people like 78-year-old great grandmother Eleanor Fairchild was arrested last October for trespassing on her own property as she tried to stop TransCanada’s bulldozers from ripping a hole through her 300-acre ranch?

Why is the state of Texas allowing a foreign corporation to seize land through eminent domain to build an oil pipeline, when in 2002 the state transportation department forbid the use of eminent domain to build new roads across Texas?  

And why is it that we’ve allowed this foreign corporation, TransCanada, to launch numerous SLAPP lawsuits against peaceful activists and property owners, threatening them with “losing their homes and life’s savings” if they continue protesting further construction of the pipeline?

And, most importantly, why, residing on a rapidly warming planet, are we doubling-down on 19th Century dirty energy sources like fossil fuels, when we should be focusing on 21st century clean energy sources like solar and wind?

Consider this: 

Last week in Chattanooga, Tennessee a massive solar power facility comprising of over 33,600 individual solar modules capable of producing 13.1 gigawatt hours of electricity every year was turned on. It’s big enough to power 1,200 homes, but will be used to power a Volkswagen manufacturing plant. And it’s the biggest solar installation ever built in the state of Tennessee.  

This solar farm was built by an American company, Silicon Ranch. No Canadian tar oil necessary. 

So, instead of letting foreign companies build terrorist-target oil pipelines across our entire country, shouldn’t we be supporting homegrown companies that could make America the worldwide leader in renewable energy?

Another "for-example": Did you know that the United States just passed Germany as the number-two country in the world when it comes to producing wind power? Did you know that the largest wind farm in the world, the Alta Wind Energy Center, is located right here in the United States in Kern County, California?

The Department of Energy estimates that 20 percent of our national energy could be produced by wind come 2030. But that’s only if our government embraces wind power with the same enthusiasm that we embrace Canada’s tar sands oil.

It’s a no-brainer. And it’s what the rest of the world is doing, too.

The world is rushing toward clean energy, from the 1.3 million solar power systems currently online in Germany producing 28 billion kilowatts of energy annually, to the London Array off-shore wind farm (the largest of its kind),  producing 630 enough electricity to power more than 470,000 homes.

So given all of this, tell me again why we're building the Keystone XL pipeline? Why, with all this potential for clean and renewable energy, are we arresting Americans for trespassing on their own property?  It sure looks like it's just so a foreign corporation can get rid of their toxic oil, and a handful of billionaires in Texas can make big profits refining and exporting it.

Our clean energy success stories are hidden from the news media, and our lawmakers are doing the bidding of Big Oil, turning our nation into the place where foreign corporations can do the dirty work of fossil fuel refining far, far away from their own populations. The President spoke about climate change in his Second Inaugural. But he’ll have a chance to do something more than give a good speech come March when the rest of the Keystone XL pipeline is set to be approved.

So, let’s keep the pressure on our lawmakers and our news media. All around the world, and right here at home, we see the potential for clean energy use on a massive scale. We have 21st Century energy solutions that work now, today; we don’t need another 19th Century oil pipeline.

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