After their 2012 general election defeat, Republicans performed a self-autopsy and concluded that they had to convince the American people that they cared more about the “regular people” and not solely their special interest donors. Obviously they ignored their own diagnosis and have committed to serving the interests of their owners the Koch brothers. This week, despite a looming veto threat from President Obama, after House Republicans passed a bill subverting the President’s purview over a foreign nation’s pipeline and the Senate is following suit sometime this week. Of all the reasons to not build the Keystone pipeline, one that is often overlooked, and ignored by the corporate media, is the real and present danger of a break in TransCanada’s rupture-prone pipeline the company claims is safe and environmentally friendly.
It is absurd to think the Canadian tar sand pipeline is even remotely environmentally friendly, particularly when Canada will not allow the pipeline to be constructed on its own soil. Now, based on the fourth in a string of pipeline explosions just this month, it is also not close to what any thinking human being would regard as safe. However, Republicans could care one iota less about the safety of the pipeline any more than they care about the environment, and in spite of the fourth pipeline explosion in a very brief amount of time, they are going forward to enrich the Koch brothers, a foreign corporation, and of course John Boehner’s stock portfolio.
The latest pipeline explosion took place in West Virginia and fortunately there were no deaths or injuries. Residents reported seeing a massive fireball shooting hundreds of feet into the air, and an emergency dispatcher said the heat from the flames melted siding off of one house and damaged a power line. The Texas-based owners of the pipeline, Enterprise Products, L.P. said it was investigating the cause of the rupture and explosion, but they like TransCanada, claim oil and gas pipelines are safe. It is likely exactly what three other pipeline owners claimed just this month as Republicans are attempting to force construction of a foreign corporations pipeline carrying incredibly dangers and nearly impossible to clean up tar sand.
In Mississippi early this month, a different pipeline operated by GulfSouth rattled nearby residents’ windows when it exploded sending a smoke plume big enough to register on the National Weather Service’s radar screens. GulfSouth, like TransCanada, touted the safety of their pipeline. Another “very safe and environmentally-friendly pipeline” owned by Bridger Pipeline ruptured in Montana less than two weeks ago dumping as much as 50,000 gallons of crude oil into the Yellowstone River and left thousands of Montana residents “without drinkable tap water.” Within days of the Montana pipeline spill, a North Dakota pipeline ruptured and spilled over 3 million gallons of “drilling waste saltwater” that is regarded as the state’s largest environmental contaminant release since the so-called “North Dakota oil boom began.”
Although Democrats have attempted to add clever amendments to the Keystone authorization legislation in the Senate, there is precious little debate about the prevalence of ruptures and spills inherent with pipes carrying more corrosive tar sand oil across America en route to China, Japan, and Europe. Democrats will never have a better opportunity to demonstrate their concern for Americans’ health, water supply, and the environment than during what is becoming a regular occurring rash of oil pipeline leaks, ruptures, and spills. It is not that the inherent danger of pipelines would convince contemptible Republicans to oppose the Kochs’ demand for authorizing the pipeline’s construction, but Democrats should be screaming and advertising the pipeline’s inherent dangers while recent pipeline incidents are fresh in people’s minds.
Opponents of the pipeline should be educating the ignorant public about how much more dangerous to the environment, particularly the water supply, a 1,700-mile pipeline carrying over 860,000 barrels of nasty, carcinogenic, and extremely corrosive tar sand crude oil is compared to conventional oil, and conventional oil is not easy to clean up. The biggest problem with tar sand oil is that it is not just harder, but nearly impossible to clean up due to its viscosity that prevents it from floating. Instead, it sinks and with a projected path over the Ogallala aquifer, Nebraska residents’ and farmers’ primary source of water would be decimated. Nebraska Republicans care as little about their populations’ source of water as they do their health, and have claimed a tar sand spill “will only affect local residents’ source of water;” obviously nothing residents should worry about.
To get an idea of the devastation and long-term effects of a tar sand rupture over a major water source, it is worth noting the nation’s first and largest tar sand spill happened nearly five years ago and is still a posing monumental challenge to clean up. The company responsible for the spill, Enbridge claimed their primary concern has always been pipeline safety and environmental consciousness.
The 2010 spill has oil industry and environmental experts stumped about how to clean up, much less recover, all the tar sand oil. As the EPA said in 2012, after two years of struggling to clean up the spill, they have been unsuccessful in cleanup and recovery attempts because “there is no known procedure to clean up tar sands bitumen.” An agency spokesman said “they had to write the book” on how best to clean up nasty tar sand (dil-bit) in Michigan. Tar sand bitumen, the type of “oil” Republicans want flowing through the Keystone pipeline spilled into the Kalamazoo River and promptly sunk to the bottom. Local residents and EPA officials are still struggling to save the water supply nearly five years later. It has cost roughly $725 million to recover 1.2 million gallons of the tar sand so far, and environmentalists at the EPA say just attempting to recover the carcinogenic tar sand is decimating the environment.
Residents in and around the Michigan spill have complained and reported nausea, migraines, and burning in the eyes and throat due to the toxins needed to allow the tar to flow. Tar sand will not flow unless it is diluted with toxic chemicals and after it does spill, the tar separates from the toxic “dilutant” and sinks. The chemical-laden dilutant evaporates into the nearby atmosphere affecting air quality. It is obviously a hazard that Republicans are comfortable imposing on Americans in their drive to serve the oil industry.
There is no good reason to allow a foreign corporation to build an environmental hazard waiting to happen on American soil, and yet Republicans are Hell-bent and duty-bound to do the bidding of the Koch brothers; despite President Obama’s pledge to veto legislation approving the permit. A permitting approval process, by the way, that is constitutionally the purview of the President and State Department; not the Koch brothers, a foreign corporation, or Republicans indebted to the oil industry. Still, Republicans continue lying about the pipeline, and wasting taxpayer’s time and money, to pass legislation to construct a pipeline that is certain to rupture, explode, and decimate the environment. And they are lying about Keystone while four pipelines ruptured or exploded amid ever-present promises it is a safe and environmentally-friendly means of enriching the Kochs, a foreign corporation, and corrupt John A. Boehner.