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Down the Pipeline Rabbit Hole


The Washington Post ran an editorial Feb. 5th  about the KXL Pipeline issue and the recent State Department study that concluded  that building the northern link Keystone XL, which would run across the Canadian border to Steele City, Nebraska, “is unlikely to have significant effects on climate-change-causing greenhouse gas emissions.”

The WAPost critique had this to say: “Environmentalists try to justify their opposition to Keystone XL with a series of unlikely assumptions. If world oil prices end up significantly lower than projected for a long time, and if the Canadian government proves incapable of establishing any pipeline and sea routes out of the country, and if the price of rail transport remains as high as the State Department’s generous projections, then some tar sands extraction projects wouldn’t be economically viable. Advocates also contend that the passionate movement against the pipeline can be useful to achieve more consequential ends and therefore should be supported, as though cultivating irrational thinking is an acceptable basis for public policy. Neither view — one unconvincing, one cynical — reflects well on the country’s environmentalists.”

Immediately, such truths caused the ineffective NGOs that are on the “Stop KXL” foundation dole to freak out and they started sending the editorial around – over and over – with comments as to its being “horrid,” “terrible,” and how they “hate it”…No refutation on the facts was presented, nor possible.

The State Department study is correct: pipes don’t create carbon pollution, they just transport the crud that when burned causes it. And, just how is it burned? The top two uses of Tar Sands refined bitumen are: gasoline and jet fuel. Yet, I have yet to hear 350, Bill McKibben, James Hansen or the rest of the professional Climate “Movement” call for a moratorium on jet travel and  a huge reduction in Consumption across-the-board; much less being good  models and stopping flying the planet on Wings of Tar Sands, themselves. After all the millions spent on this Tar Sands Campaign and given the existential Carbon Pollution Crisis we face, you’d think that at least one of the paid minions would have come up with a readily-accessible list of end uses of the toxic crap by now for consumers to make educated decisions on! Instead, we get mind-boggling comments like this from McKibben when confronted on his own huge carbon footprint – “Personal consumption doesn’t matter.”

And, since the fossil fuel-based foundations that fund the KXL distraction obviously won’t allow them to take on, much less even mention, the Consumption elephant, a case can be made that if consumption isn’t drastically lowered and the US will continue to be awash with the crud; therefore, the KXL could very well be the Greener Option  than how it is arriving currently thru old, rusty, leaking pipes and exploding rail cars and  barges. US Midwest refineries are working overtime turning the crud into gas and jet fuel – each of them has an out-gong pipeline direct to the nearby airports! 90% of retail gas in the US Midwest now is Tar Sands-derived, as is close to 100% of jet fuel. (Put that at the top of the End Uses List!)

BS about BS

In the face of the State Department report, WAPost and other editorials and these facts, the professional “greens” got busily to work and came up with a down-the-rabbit-hole response called “#100% KXL BS.”

The very first media claim they call “BS” is this: “Tar sands oil will be developed and transported to the gulf coast, with or without a pipeline…” which, of course is 100% BS on their part, as Tar Sands dilbit is ALREADY running down the REAL KXL pipes to the Gulf Coast! The southern link with its 700,000 barrels per day capacity was approved by Obama right before reelection – to deafening silence from the Stop KXL cabal.

180 degrees of BS

The entire KXL campaign is so divorced from reality that the main corporate big green, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) first put out a report in 2012 downplaying US consumption (with  ALL the participating paid groups logos attached – 350’s “No Logo” Naomi Klein notwithstanding)  that stated “Keystone XL would skip over refineries and U.S. consumers in the Midwest, allowing tar sands producers to send Canadian crude to Gulf Coast refineries located in tax-free Foreign Trade Zones. From those refineries, tar sands would then be sold to international buyers—at a higher profit to Big Oil.”

Then, when the reality of the US Midwest being fueled by Tar Sands could no longer be denied, they flipped 180 degrees and put this out just recently:

“Oil industry plans could cause a dramatic increase in the use of tar sands–derived gasoline in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, a shift that would move the region backwards in its efforts to fight climate change”

The reality is that the Stop the KXL effort has been a fund-raising and contact data mining effort. I know many people who are also critical of the corporate foundation-funded distraction think it will be approved, yet I think it more likely it is an effort to set the stage for Obama to cancel the unnecessary pipeline so they can then bleat “victory,” greenwash bad Democrats and keep the grant trough full of feed.  And the decision and “victory” keeps getting put back closer and closer to Hillary Clinton’s presidential run – where a decision to cancel soon before would be used by the corporate “greens” to ladle out some election year Green Cred to her and the Dems.

As the WAPost noted: “Environmentalists get back to your serious work, the Keystone XL isn’t it…Fighting for good climate policy may be more difficult than waging a symbolic war against a lone pipeline.”

That, of course, would be environmental work on real issues and real consequences, not Democrat electioneering and grant mining. It means directly addressing the entire Three-Legged Stool of Extinction – Population, Production and Consumption – not just one small part of theaddicted-to-fossil-fuels Delivery system.

One great grassroots activist friend noted regarding the vacuity of failing to address it all: “There is no version of seven billion humans that can survive on this planet or the planet can endure. The number of people WITHOUT industrial civilization this planet can support begins with an M, not a B. Of course industrial civilization is the ultimate irony: we die with it, we die without it.”

Another great activist noted “Making KXL the issue was great for their fund-raising and stupid as hell politically.”

MICHAEL DONNELLY is a long-time environmental grassroots activist. He can be reached at



MICHAEL DONNELLY has been an environmental activist since before that first Earth Day. He was in the thick of the Pacific Northwest Ancient Forest Campaign; garnering some collective victories and lamenting numerous defeats. He can be reached at

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