Why all of us should oppose the Keystone XL Pipeline, and the oil trains coming our way

Today is a day of national opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline. Protests are being held around the country, including Port Townsend. You might ask, “why should I oppose this? What does it mean to me?”

The issue is not just the XL pipeline. It is about the choices our government, and us, are making that will have serious consequences for our future and our children’s future. The issue is the damage to our shared resources of the air and  water.  

There is  a very real threat to our air. . The oil from the Alberta Tar Sands and the oil coming through trains to the Pacific NW right now is contributing to global warming and irreversible climate change. We cannot reverse it, will have to learn to live with it, if we can. But why make it even worse? Virtually every scientist on the planet, presented over and over again in international scientific and political arena worldwide, has stated this. It is scientific fact. This CO2 rise is radically altering the planet, and with it, our very waters in front of us. These waters provide some of our most basic food.  It is about self preservation. 

It is the governments basic function to protect not only our air, water and land for us, but for future generations. You cannot pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness with the ecosystem destroyed.  It is a pretty basic understanding that we cannot continue to have a civilization without breathable air, drinkable water and farmable land. This notion has been recognized from the Romans, through the Magna Carta and even in our laws. Look up the phrase “Public Trust Doctrine”. It is the basis for why we have environmental laws. In this state, our Shoreline protection laws are based on it, among others.  

The oil coming out of Alberta and North Dakota will be transshipped to China as soon as Congress can change the law. That is the goal of companies and their politicians, which will likely be put forward by Congress later this year. They will have lots of great reasons to ship it overseas, but as we know, if it goes overseas it will come back as pollution in the jet stream. We cannot escape the fact that China’s pollution ends up coming back to us.

Closer to home, the increase in shipping of oil to China, through our commonly shared Salish Sea, will be hundreds of ships a year. This exponentially increases the chances that one drunken pilot will spill enough oil into the Sound to destroy it once and for all. There will be no “making it right” once this happens. We are spending hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money to save and restore Puget Sound, It is our common trust to protect it. The decision to ship hazardous material like crude oil is a decision weighted against the other issues that make up the Public Trust law here and nationally.   It is our right to demand that this oil is not shipped through the Strait because of the very real threat to our shorelines, property values, species that inhabit our waters and that provide us with food and an ecosystem that supports all that. 

So what is the alternative? It’s time to require that the government put in place a rational energy policy that no longer relies on transport of billions of gallons of crude oil over railroad lines that we no longer even can regulate on a state level. The federal government has even taken away our ability to manage our own rail safety. This has got to stop. These are choices being made. It is, or should be, our decision, not theirs.

It’s time to say, enough is enough. We are facing grave environmental changes  due to our insane consumption of oil, that all of us seem to need. Some of us are moving to electric cars, wind and solar energy. We have to move faster towards that future, not towards more pollution from oil. We have the right to  say “No more XL Pipelines. No massive profits to foreign oil companies at our Sound’s expense. No more treaty rights violated for oil profits. No Exxon Valdez fiascos in our shared waters.” We are protecting the Sound not just for us, but for future generations. It’s not abstract, it’s your right to demand it stop here, and now.  If you don’t come out to the rallies, then pick up the phone and dial your Congressman, or Senator. Their web sites are listed to the left.

2 Responses

  1. One reason that we should oppose all new fossil fuel infrastructure is that investors will want to get as much return as possible as long as possible. So, even after alternative energies are feasible and economically competitive, there is an incentive to continue using the fossil fuel infrastructure for many decades.

  2. Well said!

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