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

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

December 08, 2016
John W. Whitehead
Power to the People: John Lennon’s Legacy Lives On
Mike Whitney
Rolling Back the Empire: Washington’s Proxy-Army Faces Decisive Defeat in Aleppo
Ellen Brown
“We’ll Look at Everything:” More Thoughts on Trump’s $1 Trillion Infrastructure Plan
John Stauber
The Rise and Fall of Obamacare: Will the Inside Story Ever be Told?
Ted Rall
Ameri-Splaining
Michael J. Sainato
Mainstream Media Continues Absolving Itself From Clinton, Trump Election Failures
Ralph Nader – Mark Green
Divest or Face Impeachment: an Open Letter to Donald Trump
Gareth Porter
US Airstrikes on Syrian Troops: Report Data Undermine Claim of “Mistake”
Martha Burke
What Trumponomics Means for Women
Ramzy Baroud
Fatah, Hold Your Applause: Palestinian Body Politic Rotten to the Core
Steve Horn
Jeff Sessions, Trump’s Attorney General Pick, Introduced First Bill Exempting Fracking from Drinking Water Rules
Joe Ware
The Big Shift: Why Banks Need to Stop Investing Our Money Into Fossil Fuels
Juliana Barnet
On the Ground at Standing Rock
Franklin Lamb
Aleppo Update: An Inspiring Return to the Bombed Out National Museum
Steve Kelly
Hidden Harmony: on the Perfection of Forests
December 07, 2016
Michael Schwalbe
What We Talk About When We Talk About Class
Karl Grossman
The Next Frontier: Trump and Space Weapons
Kenneth Surin
On Being Caught Speeding in Rural America
Chris Floyd
In Like Flynn: Blowback for Filth-Peddling Fascists
Serge Halimi
Trump, the Know-Nothing Victor
Paul DeRienzo
Flynn Flam: Neocon Ex-General to Be Trump’s National Security Advisor
Binoy Kampmark
Troubled Waters: Trump, Taiwan and Beijing
Tom Clifford
Trump and China: a Note From Beijing
Arnold August
Fidel’s Legacy to the World on Theory and Practice
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix a ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
John Kirk
Cuba After Fidel
Jess Guh
Repeal of Affordable Care Act is Politics Playing with the Wellbeing of Americans
Eric Sommer
Team Trump: a Government of Generals and Billionaires
Lawrence Davidson
U.S. Reactions to the Death of Fidel Castro
John Garvey - Noel Ignatiev
Abolitionism: a Study Guide
Clancy Sigal
Caution: Conspiracy Theory Ahead!
December 06, 2016
Anthony DiMaggio
Post-Fact Politics: Reviewing the History of Fake News and Propaganda
Richard Moser
Standing Rock: Challenge to the Establishment, School for the Social Movements
Behrooz Ghamari Tabrizi
Warmongering 99 – Common Sense 0: the Senate’s Unanimous Renewal of Iran Sanctions Act
Norman Solomon
Media Complicity is Key to Blacklisting Websites
Michael J. Sainato
Elizabeth Warren’s Shameful Exploitation of Standing Rock Victory
David Rosen
State Power and Terror: From Wounded Knee to Standing Rock
Kim Ives
Deconstructing Another Right-Wing Victory in Haiti
Nile Bowie
South Korea’s Presidency On A Knife-Edge
Mateo Pimentel
Some Notes and a Song for Standing Rock
CJ Hopkins
Manufacturing Normality
Bill Fletcher Jr – Bob Wing
Fighting Back Against the White Revolt of 2016
Peter Lee
Is America Ready for a War on White Privilege?
Pepe Escobar
The Rules of the (Trump) Game
W. T. Whitney
No Peace Yet in Colombia Despite War’s End
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail