Skip to main content

This morning, the front page of the New York Times carried one of those stories that reminds you why it’s a good thing we have reporters.

Two weeks after a State Department report, speaking in the hermetically sealed tones of bureaucrats, predicted ‘minimal environmental impact’ from the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, the Times investigation found that in fact pipelines already crisscrossing America are leaking constantly and disastrously, that the federal agency assigned to protect them is so chronically understaffed, and that as a result they’ve left the “too much of the regulatory control in the hands of pipeline operators themselves.”

Not surprisingly, this  “self-regulation” works about as well as fox oversight of the poultry industry. For instance, in Michigan a 35-mile stretch of the Kalamazoo River “once teeming with swimmers and boaters, remains closed nearly 14 months after an Enbridge Energy pipeline hemorrhaged 843,000 gallons of oil that will cost more than $500 million to clean up.”

And, “this summer, an Exxon Mobil pipeline carrying oil across Montana burst suddenly, soiling the swollen Yellowstone River with an estimated 42,000 gallons of crude just weeks after a company inspection and federal review had found nothing seriously wrong.”

These are the kind of concerns that caused the Republican governor and senator from Nebraska to last week demand that the White House refuse a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, which will cross, among other features, the Sand Hills of the Cornhusker State, not to mention the Oglalla Aquifer.  And the pipeline will carry oil that’s actually hardly oil at all—in the words of the Times story,  what comes from the tar sands of Alberta is “a gritty mixture that includes bitumen, a crude drawn from Canadian oil sands that environmentalists argue is more corrosive and difficult to clean when spilled.”

The tarsands are a mess at their origin, where an area the size of European nations has been wantonly trashed to get at the oil, wrecking indigenous cultures and lives. They’re a mess at the end, when refineries will turn them into gasoline that, when burnt, carry enough carbon to, in the words of NASA’s James Hansen, mean “game over” for the climate.

But the Times story also makes painfully clear that they’re a mess in the middle. The good news is President Obama can stop them all by himself. We’ll find out before the year is out whether he listens more to the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal (an enthusiastic backer of the pipeline), or the front page of the New York Times. Whether, that is, he listens to money or to science.

Originally posted to Bill McKibben on Sat Sep 10, 2011 at 11:46 AM PDT.

Also republished by DK GreenRoots and EcoJustice.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Thor Heyerdahl, Louise, Thumb, JekyllnHyde, Mimikatz, jo fish, jillian, Mogolori, Chi, hester, grollen, teacherken, slinkerwink, janinsanfran, PeterHug, RunawayRose, wytcld, Sprinkles, Heather in SFBay, LynChi, Wintermute, tacet, liz, OLinda, eeff, xynz, Voodoo, frisco, RFK Lives, expatjourno, Creosote, Heart of the Rockies, Gustogirl, bronte17, missLotus, afox, susakinovember, awakentech, DaleA, Agathena, Pithy Cherub, roses, sberel, larryrant, splashy, Cedwyn, PDX Dem, revsue, Oke, emmasnacker, sockpuppet, by foot, Miss Jones, coconutjones, 2laneIA, BMarshall, joan reports, Catte Nappe, Tillie630, lcrp, alizard, zerelda, KayCeSF, JayDean, Mosquito Pilot, jcrit, Virginia Liberal, Leaves on the Current, Sybil Liberty, Maggie Pax, Gowrie Gal, sb, Julie Gulden, joanneleon, Massman, maybeeso in michigan, marina, yuriwho, OpherGopher, elkhunter, dewtx, ChemBob, Laurence Lewis, oregonj, LNK, SJerseyIndy, lotlizard, blue jersey mom, minidriver, Ginny in CO, snoopydawg, sillia, Rogneid, bookwoman, JanF, mightymouse, RainyDay, splashoil, Jim P, RiaD, Nowhere Man, trashablanca, MissInformation, BalanceSeeker, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, vigilant meerkat, Russgirl, Yellow Canary, cookseytalbott, KenBee, dougymi, Magnifico, Lefty Coaster, blueoasis, praenomen, jguzman17, 4Freedom, gooderservice, lao hong han, gabriella, boatsie, Unitary Moonbat, doinaheckuvanutjob, middleagedhousewife, SingerInTheChoir, profh, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, fiddlingnero, WarrenS, Delta Overdue, matx, thatvisionthing, sea note, Little, OHdog, Cartoon Messiah, ammasdarling, Tamar, One Pissed Off Liberal, pgm 01, North Central, dotsright, Chief9toe, possum, ninkasi23, offgrid, BruceMcF, yoduuuh do or do not, Wino, FishOutofWater, Mary Mike, david mizner, terabytes, DWG, aliasalias, Democrat, bnasley, RosyFinch, Seneca Doane, artisan, theChild, jnhobbs, millwood, jhop7, JML9999, Badabing, spearfish, cacamp, Vinnie Vegas, on the cusp, JDWolverton, cynndara, Roger Fox, wayoutinthestix, spacejam, Cat Servant, wade norris, VL Baker, jamess, Calamity Jean, Lujane, dewley notid, mofembot, Seamus D, petulans, doppler effect, CarolJ, allie123, HarpboyAK, Ellinorianne, David Futurama, squarewheel, satanicpanic, Old Woman, Rhysling, MufsMom, Neon Vincent, hannahlk, greengemini, bsmechanic, h bridges, virginwoolf, dRefractor, asym, sfarkash, maxzj05, astral66, Randtntx, citisven, porchdog1961, Amber6541, Wyote, rb137, flitedocnm, freeport beach PA, plankbob, Garfnobl, cordgrass, gulfgal98, Egalitare, DiegoUK, cai, addisnana, Muggsy, Otteray Scribe, Floande, cocinero, slice, bluebuckaroo, bgblcklab1, afisher, luvmykona, Possiamo, BirdMom, imokyrok, KelleyRN2, Haf2Read, marleycat, political mutt, Grandma Susie, poliwrangler, Wood Dragon, Oilwellian, jolux, SteelerGrrl, jvmwordsmith, DRo, SouthernLiberalinMD, The BigotBasher, DawnN, brown and blue all over, OldDragon, ursoklevar, damfino, greenbastard, Siri, foucaultspendulum, dance you monster, barkingcat, Trotskyrepublican, kait, shanesnana, Mike RinRI, peachcreek, pot, the Don, radical simplicity, burnt out, pittie70, doroma, noise of rain, David Kaib, wasatch, mythatsme, Captain Chaos, natfroiland, Prospect Park, JFeathersmith, Dancun74

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site