David Limbaugh’s May 11 rant on Keystone (“Obama’s phony ambivalence on Keystone”) is wrong on so many levels. Where to begin?
1) TransCanada (TC): Is a foreign, privately owned company trying to get states to seize land from Americans, not for the “public good” as eminent domain requires, but for profit. American farmers are being threatened to sign waivers, holding TC harmless, leaving landowners holding the bag for cleanup should pipes leak. Nebraska farmers are outraged, and rightly so.
2) Track record: Since 1986, pipeline accidents have killed more than 500 people, injured over 4,000, and cost nearly seven billion dollars in property damages. Pipelines often leak for weeks, even months. TC wants to run pipes over Ogallala, the largest aquifer in the country. What could possibly go wrong? Tar sand is nasty, corrosive stuff laced with solvents to help it move. It sinks like a rock in water, and there’s no technology to clean it up. To date, the best they have to offer by way of clean-up is absorbent towels, diapers, and lots of lawyers.
3) Food shortages: Crops and livestock are already under stress due to extreme drought and heat. Food prices are going up right now. If toxic solvents leach into the aquifer, it’s game over for farmers, distributors and restaurants alike. How many jobs will go with them? What will happen to food prices then?
4) Price of oil: We are importing oil at the lowest level in decades and producing more fuel than ever. Keystone tar sands will be refined in the Gulf and sold to the highest bidder. Once Keystone is built there will be 35 permanent jobs. We assume all the risk to our food and water supply, destroy family homesteads, and create 35 permanent jobs. How foolish are we? Canadians, Chinese and Koch Brother will be laughing all the way to the bank.
5) Want to create jobs?: Then stop the rhetoric. Let’s start hiring idle construction workers to repair crumbling rail, roads, tunnels, gas and water pipes, electric grids … the kind of investment we can all benefit from. Our infrastructure is a national disgrace. Let’s build strong rooms for school kids in tornado alley…barriers to protect cities from the rising sea. Infrastructure banks combine the best of public and private investment. Projects are based strictly on merit, not political cronyism. We want businesses to invest here, and Americans need jobs. These repairs must be made sooner or later. Why not now?
6) Free markets and energy: Through leasing, the solar industry has dramatically lowered costs; is creating thousands of new jobs, making clean energy affordable for the first time. Now there's an (ALEC based) campaign in red states to prevent solar companies from competing with entrenched utilities. According to its website, ALEC "works to advance the fundamental principles of free-market enterprise.” What’s more socialist than a monopoly holding millions of rate payers captive as they block entrepreneurs from cutting into their profits? Shouldn’t consumers be free to choose how to invest in their own property and how they purchase energy in America? Why the sudden push in red states for legislation to protect monopolies?
7) “Conservative” vs “Conservation:” Stupidity and greed has destroyed more than one civilization. The native people of Canada refused to let Keystone pass through their land, so big oil folks are eyeing the suckers south of the border instead. Through well-funded campaigns, men like the Koch Brothers have brilliantly painted the Richard Nixon-created) EPA as a “job killing regulator,” they want to eliminate the EPA altogether. They also want unfettered access to our national park system (Teddy Roosevelt created). So, what “freedoms” do these so called “Patriots” seek? The freedom to plunder and release toxic waste with impunity, to take whatever they want, and leave the rest of us to deal with the fall out.
In their selfish quest, they have pimped this once proud term, "conservative," especially as it pertains to the wise use of natural resources (conservation). Only 2 percent of the water in this country is fresh. Wake up people. There’s nothing “conservative” about your state government seizing land from private landowners and turning it over to foreign companies for profit. There’s nothing “conservative” about fouling one's own nest at breakneck speed to make a handful of billionaires richer.
Some things in life are bigger than politics. The air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink are three of them.
The writer lives in Sunset Beach, N.C. and is former Natural Resource Chair for the League of Women Voters in upstate New York.