On January 18, 2012, President Barack Obama rejected the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. It would ship up to 590,000 barrels per day of “bitumin,” a kind of crude oil, ripped from the tar sands of Canada 1,700 miles south to refineries lining the Gulf of Mexico.
Environmentalists cheered the decision, with Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council calling it “a victory of truth over misinformation,” and environmental author-turned-activist Bill McKibben saying it “isn’t just the right call, it’s the brave call.”
Despite such celebrations, the battle over Keystone, which has become a real and symbolic battle over oil and its role in global warming, is not over, for two reasons.
First, Obama did not denounce the merits of the pipeline itself, but instead condemned the “rushed and arbitrary deadline” set by congressional Republicans, forcing him to accept or reject the proposal by February 21, 2012. “This announcement is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline, but the arbitrary nature of a deadline,” he said in the Washington Post.
Second, and more importantly, there is an immense amount of money at stake, held by some of the continent’s most powerful interests. The names of some stakeholders–Royal Dutch Shell, for example–are well known. But others whose riches ride on the debate’s outcome, including Charles and David Koch, tied as the 18th richest persons in the world according to Forbes magazine, have tried to keep a low profile. …
Curtis A. Moore, an independent lawyer and writer, is author of Green Gold: Japan, Germany, the United States and the Race for Environmental Technology, and was Republican counsel to the U.S. Committee on Environment and Public Works for 11 years. He is currently completing a book on global warming and its politics in the United States. He collaborates with the Americas Program
For more on this story, visit: The Hidden Costs of the Keystone XL Pipeline » Counterpunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names.