The Arkansas Republican Exxon/Mobil caucus gathered at a Little Rock pipe plant Monday, along with nominal Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, to promote the Keystone XL pipeline. No mention was made about the resistance to pipeline ventures in Canada, the source of the oil.
Same song umpteenth verse: Republicans like Tom Cotton, Tim Griffin and the Faulkner County Fracking Caucus think the Keystone pipeline is a boon to Arkansas. They present little evidence. Welspun in Little Rock has already made and sold the pipe. A temporary period of employment for low-wage workers is possible at Welspun to ship the pipe should the line get approved. There might be some pipeline workers in Arkansas who’ll go to Nebraska and other states for the construction period. That’s about it in terms of direct impact. Insignificant.
In the process, the U.S. will open its plains, prairies and water supplies to a tube carrying dangerous tar sands from Canada to Gulf refineries to feed products into the overseas market. Apart from the tiny benefit to Arkansas of added petroleum in the worldwide energy pool, there’s little for Arkansas but political points for Republican politicians and Mark Pryor.
It’s worse than that, though. Check the New York Times on the Canadian view of all this.
Uncertainty in the U.S. about Keystone has prompted Canadian energy producers to look for other ways to move oil overseas. Guess what? Canadians are fighting it fiercely. Environmental fears. But U.S. Republican politicians — and Mark Pryor — are happy to offer up our amber waves of grain for a tube gushing tar sands.
The resistance is strongest in British Columbia, which oil companies envision as the gateway to fast-growing Asian markets.
The critical Northern Gateway pipeline, in particular, has faced strong opposition from Native Canadian groups, which have induced the pipeline company Enbridge to make important safety concessions and even to give an ownership stake to Native Canadians. The company also faces opposition from Kitimat, a town that is the port terminal for the Northern Gateway, which recently voted against the project in a nonbinding referendum.
Another proposed TransCanada project, called Energy East, which would revamp a gas pipeline to take 1.1 million barrels of oil a day to refineries in Quebec and on the east coast, has drawn opposition from environmentalists. Seismic work and other construction of a marine terminal, scientists say, will imperil the already declining beluga whale population in the St. Lawrence River.
More broadly, environmental groups have initiated legal challenges of the government’s streamlined pipeline approval process, which they contend is overly friendly to the oil industry.
Maybe Tom Coton, Tim Griffin, Mark Pryor, the Meeks boys, that Rapert fellow and others could move to Canada and tell them how stupid they are.
Meanwhile, more seriously, is this part of the story: Expansion of existing Canadian pipelines in Canada could more than accommodate the additional flow planned for Keystone XL. An American politician with an eye toward protecting his birthright might encourage that, rather than putting his native soil at risk.