FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Supposed Inevitability of Oil

by KEN KLIPPENSTEIN

Following a train’s spill of 30,000 gallons of crude in Minnesota, a spokesman for Senator John Hoeven, an advocate of the Keystone XL pipeline, argued that “This is why we need the Keystone XL. Pipelines are both safe and efficient.” Then of course, three days later, the Pegasus pipeline burst, spilling an unknown amount of crude over the town of Mayflower, Arkansas. The EPA has classified the rupture in Mayflower as a “major spill”.

Both spills involved Canadian crude oil, which is what will be surging through the Keystone XL pipeline should popular pressure fail to prevent its construction. The Keystone XL would be able to transport about 9 times as much oil per day as the Pegasus pipeline, with the type of oil–bitumen–contributing dramatically to carbon emissions. Industry propaganda is busily assuring people that they’ve lost either way and had better give up, because Canadian crude will be transported by train if not by pipeline. Though this argument is not entirely false, it is still quite clear that the oil industry wants to use the Keystone XL pipeline. They wouldn’t be pushing for the Keystone if it didn’t allow for more oil to be transported more rapidly and at a higher profit. Elementary truths such as these evade the mainstream discussion, in which the emphasis seems to be on how futile the situation is, and how we had better just step aside and let the smart oil industry technocrats handle everything.

It is true that the investor class has set its eyes on railroad firms, perhaps most notably Warren Buffet, who in 2010 acquired BNSF Railway. But as resource specialist Michael T Klare recently argued, rail “will never prove sufficient to move the millions of barrels in added daily output expected from projects now coming on line.” So to state what should be obvious, what’s being discussed in relation to Keystone is not if oil will be burned, but how much; and that figure is an unknown variable, no matter how much the oil industry would like people to believe otherwise.
As big oil issues reassurances via press conference that everything that can be done is being done in Minnesota and now Arkansas, I find it difficult to take their PR guys in sharp suits very seriously knowing that the oil industry employs other guys in suits, insurance actuaries, who knew pretty well  these spills would occur. Meanwhile, Obama has given no clear indication that he will veto the Keystone XL, though it is well within his power.

As in Shakespeare’s King Lear, the king is insane. We cannot appeal to his better nature because he has none. And the king’s court–the investor class, PR specialists, and so on–are all in his thrall. These are known variables. The unknown variable (and indeed the largest one) is the people, and how long they will continue to tolerate the elite’s glib destruction of their planet.

Ken Klippenstein lives in Madison, Wisconsin, where he co-edits the left issues website, whiterosereader.org He can be reached atReader246@gmail.com

Ken Klippenstein is an American journalist who can be reached on Twitter @kenklippenstein or by email: kenneth.klippenstein@gmail.com

Weekend Edition
February 5-7, 2016
Jeffrey St. Clair
When Chivalry Fails: St. Bernard and the Machine
Leonard Peltier
My 40 Years in Prison
John Pilger
Freeing Julian Assange: the Final Chapter
Garry Leech
Terrifying Ted and His Ultra-Conservative Vision for America
Andrew Levine
Smash Clintonism: Why Democrats, Not Republicans, are the Problem
William Blum
Is Bernie Sanders a “Socialist”?
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
We Can’t Afford These Billionaires
Enrique C. Ochoa
Super Bowl 50: American Inequality on Display
Jonathan Cook
The Liberal Hounding of Julian Assange: From Alex Gibney to The Guardian
George Wuerthner
How the Bundy Gang Won
Mike Whitney
Peace Talks “Paused” After Putin’s Triumph in Aleppo 
Ted Rall
Hillary Clinton: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Gary Leupp
Is a “Socialist” Really Unelectable? The Potential Significance of the Sanders Campaign
Vijay Prashad
The Fault Line of Race in America
Eoin Higgins
Please Clap: the Jeb Bush Campaign Pre-Mortem
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
The Invisible Epidemic: Radiation and Rising Rates of Thyroid Cancer
Andre Vltchek
Europe is Built on Corpses and Plunder
Jack Smith
Obama Readies to Fight in Libya, Again
Robert Fantina
As Goes Iowa, So Goes the Nation?
Dean Baker
Market Turmoil, the Fed and the Presidential Election
John Grant
Israel Moves to Check Its Artists
John Wight
Who Was Cecil Rhodes?
David Macaray
Will There Ever Be Anyone Better Than Bernie Sanders?
Christopher Brauchli
Suffer Little Children: From Brazil to Flint
JP Sottile
Did Fox News Help the GOP Establishment Get Its Groove Back?
Binoy Kampmark
Legalizing Cruelties: the Australian High Court and Indefinite Offshore Detention
John Feffer
Wrestling With Iran
Rob Prince – Ibrahim Kazerooni
Syria Again
Louisa Willcox
Park Service Finally Stands Up for Grizzlies and Us
Farzana Versey
Of Beyoncé, Trudeau and Culture Predators
Pete Dolack
Fanaticism and Fantasy Drive Purported TPP ‘Benefits’
Murray Dobbin
Canada and the TPP
Steve Horn
Army of Lobbyists Push LNG Exports, Methane Hydrates, Coal in Senate Energy Bill
Colin Todhunter
“Lies, Lies and More Lies” – GMOs, Poisoned Agriculture and Toxic Rants
Franklin Lamb
ISIS Erasing Our Cultural Heritage in Syria
David Mihalyfy
#realacademicbios Deserve Real Reform
Graham Peebles
Unjust and Dysfunctional: Asylum in the UK
Yves Engler
On Unions and Class Struggle
Alfredo Lopez
The ‘Bern’ and the Internet
Missy Comley Beattie
Super Propaganda
Ed Rampell
Great Caesar’s Ghost!: A Specter Haunts Hollywood in the Coen’s Anti-Anti-Commie Goofball Comedy
Cesar Chelala
The Public Health Impact of Domestic Violence
Ron Jacobs
Cold Weather Comforts of a Certain Sort
Charles Komanoff
On the Passing of the Jefferson Airplane
Charles R. Larson
Can One Survive the Holocaust?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail