Perfectly Safe KeystoneXL Pipeline Springs Another Leak

For at least the second time in a few months a foreign corporation-owned oil pipeline leaked 210,000 gallons of oil in South Dakota. The leak occurred mere days before neighboring Nebraska decides whether to issue a permit for the oil export pipeline’s construction across part of America’s agricultural heartland as well as a massive aquifer supplying water to millions of Americans and farmers.

A spokesman for South Dakota’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Brian Walsh, said “this is the largest Keystone oil spill to date – in South Dakota.” In April of last year TransCanada “released” 16,800 gallons of oil that leaked from the “perfectly safe” Keystone Pipeline. Walsh said it only took two months to clean up “the majority of the spillage” from that leak; “the largest Keystone oil spill” to date at the time.

Mr. Walsh said that as of Thursday, a few hours after the leak was discovered, that there “were no initial reports of the oil spill affecting waterways, water systems, or wildlife. It is a below-ground pipeline but some oil has surfaced above ground to the grass. It will be a few days until they can excavate and get in borings to see if there is groundwater contamination.”

It is uncertain whether Nebraska will consider “groundwater contamination” in deciding if the pipeline can proceed through the state, but another Keystone pipeline leak within a few months will probably not influence Nebraska’s decision. The state is scheduled to announce this coming Monday about whether to permit the foreign corporation (TransCanada) to expand construction through Nebraska.

The foreign corporation that owns and operates the “perfectly safe” Keystone pipeline, TransCanada released the same kind of statement they did in April when Keystone leaked. “The safety of the public and environment are our top priorities and we will continue to provide updates as they become available.

It was particularly nice of the foreign corporation to assure the public that it was working with state and federal agencies when they should have worked diligently to make sure their leak-prone pipeline was secure. No doubt TransCanada is frantically “working” diligently on Nebraska state agencies and officials who will announce on Monday whether to allow their state to host a “perfectly safe” pipeline; something Greenpeace said should be an easy decision.

The environmental activist group said this “latest” spill “shows that another section of the pipeline in Nebraska should not be approved.” Rachel Rye Butler spoke for environmentalists and sane Americans saying:

The Nebraska Public Service Commission needs to take a close look at this spill. A permit approval allowing Canadian oil company TransCanada to build Keystone XL is a thumbs-up to likely spills in the future.”

Kelly Martin is the director of the Sierra Club campaign, “Beyond Dirty Fuels,” and reiterated what no small number of environmental groups have known is a fact of life about oil pipelines:

We’ve always said it’s not a question of whether a pipeline will spill, but when, and today TransCanada is making our case for us. This is not the first time TransCanada’s pipeline has spilled toxic tar sands, and it won’t be the last. There is no such thing as a safe tar sands pipeline, and the only way to protect Nebraska communities from more tar sand spills is to say no to Keystone XL.

Despite warnings of spills, and President Barack Obama’s rejection of TransCanada’s permit to build the pipeline, the fossil fuel industry running the government is not going to “say no to Keystone XL” even if Nebraska rejects the project. Republicans and Trump claim the pipeline is crucial to eliminating America’s dependency on foreign oil, but they know the foreign-owned pipeline is a transit medium for toxic oil-sands from Alberta Canada on a route through Montana and South Dakota to Nebraska; where it will eventually “feed Texas Gulf Coast refineries.”

After refining and processing, much of it by Koch industries, that oil is already slated for export to China and Europe. None of that oil was ever intended to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil because it belongs to a foreign corporation, and the Koch brothers, who are going to profit by selling it to foreign nations.

It is noteworthy to mention that if America is so desperate to end its dependency on “foreign oil,” then why did congressional Republicans lift a 40-year ban on selling American oil on the foreign export market last year? As of February of this year, American oil exports to “foreign nations” were at record levels because America is flush with oil and the industry wants more profits.

In fact, in May of this year, Trump proposed selling off half of America’s emergency oil stockpile and the entire backup gasoline supply – to foreign nations. Trump’s head of the White House Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney, said at the time that it was “the responsible thing to do … especially when we have increased domestic production like we have today.”

Even an imbecile should demand to know why, if America is so damn dependent on foreign oil, is the Trump administration anxious to sell off half the emergency reserves and why is the oil industry selling record levels of American oil to foreign nations? And how in dog’s name is a foreign-owned pipeline carrying foreign oil across prime agriculture land and one of the nation’s “most used aquifers” en route to more foreign nations helping reduce the country’s dependency on foreign oil?

The Keystone XL pipeline is for the sole benefit of a foreign corporation, the Koch brothers, and the oil export industry. Not only are Americans not going to see that oil except for when the pipeline leaks, in order to process tar sand through the pipeline it will take a significant amount of already processed oil to keep it moving on its way to the Gulf for refining and export to foreign nations. And besides endangering the Ogallala Aquifer and prime agricultural land, oil industry experts predict it will increase the cost of diesel fuel at the pump by about 25-cents per gallon for American consumers. Likely worse, though, is the existential cost to the planet of developing tar sands (bitumen) that leading climate scientists say means “game over for the environment.

There is no good reason for allowing a foreign corporation to construct a leak-prone tar sand pipeline across America’s “agricultural heartland” that endangers the environment, creates health risks, raises gas prices and decimates the climate. The only reason the pipeline is going forward, and it will go forward, is because the fossil fuel industry now holds comfortable majorities in both houses of Congress and own the rubber stamp in the Oval Office.

Trump’s America Is Exceptionally Isolated Against the World

Once upon a time America was an exceptional nation for myriad reasons in spite of its tendency toward imperialism and waging war, but that all drastically changed the day of Trump’s poorly-attended inauguration. It is true that America’s exceptionalism suffered during the Obama Administration, but it was due to Republican opposition to basic human and constitutional rights for American citizens; enough opposition that the United Nations Human Rights Council condemned the United States several times for its mistreatment of the poor and minorities. Now, America can claim it is exceptional among all the world’s nations as the only country on Earth to oppose the global effort to combat climate change.

It was a big deal that a nation devastated by civil war signed on to the Paris Climate Accord this week because it appeared to be a barely functioning government. Still, Syria did what every other country on the planet, except America, did and joined the climate change battle likely because a fair amount of Syria’s woes are a direct result of global warming. Of course there is no part of America that hasn’t been adversely affected by anthropogenic climate change; a fact a recent “Climate Report” cited as a reason to take immediate action. But Trump and company refuse to accept the empirical data showing that it will take a concerted global effort to save the climate for future generations and in fact refuse to acknowledge that the climate is changing for the worse.

With Syria announcing at the COP23 climate summit that it was joining the global effort to combat climate change, Trump’s “America First” mantra means that America is alone, an outlier, and an anomaly among the “family of nations,” and not in a good way.

The Syrian announcement incited Sierra Club Executive Director Michal Brune to state:

As if it wasn’t already crystal clear, every single other country in the world is moving forward together to tackle the climate crisis, while Donald Trump has isolated the United States on the world stage in an embarrassing and dangerous position.”

The World Resources Institute released a statement saying that with Syria on board, “the entire world is resolutely committed to advancing climate action – all save one country.This should make the Trump administration pause and reflect on their ill-advised announcement about withdrawing from the Paris Agreement.”

Not only is the Trump fossil fuel administration not “pausing or reflecting;” it is moving forward with what has to be the most ignorant, and humiliating, plan at the COP23 summit in Bonn Germany. The summit is intended to allow nearly 200 delegates from nations involved in the Paris Climate Accord to work out “exactly how best to implement the agreement and stop a future full of weather extremes” that are devastating populations and economies.

America will have competing delegations at the COP23 summit with opposing purposes. One “unofficial” delegation is comprised of governors, business groups, and corporate heads intent on ignoring Trump and working in concert with the rest of the world to combat the warming climate. The other delegation is the “official” representative of the Trump fossil fuel cabal and they are going to propose a climate change solution that flies in the face of science and the intent of the rest of the Earth’s leaders advancing the goals of the Paris agreement.

It is difficult to comprehend from any perspective, but the Trump delegation will argue vehemently to the world’s leaders that burning more coal is the only way to “solve climate change.” Remember, Trump and his Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Energy Secretary claim that not only is climate change a hoax, but that carbon emissions have no impact on the climate. Of course their assertion is contrary to the just-released congressional-mandated “Climate Report” that states categorically:

Based on extensive evidence, human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. There is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence.”

In what will certainly set America apart from the rest of the planet as “exceptional,” it is reported that a Trump advisor representing “several members of the fossil fuel industry, including coal-giant Peabody Energy,” will stand up in front of the world’s representatives and “tout the benefits of burning coal” as a solution to global climate change. This will occur even as the rest of the world seeks ways to reduce emissions from coal-fired generating plants that are the primary source of carbon emissions driving global warming. As noted over at IFLScience, Trump‘s fossil fuel contingent will present a mountain of “alternative facts” as if they are addressing ignorant Fox News and Breitbart viewers.

As reported in BBC News, the rest of the world’s leaders at the CPO23 summit were already angry that while the rest of the civilized, and hardly civilized, world is meeting to conspire how best to stop carbon emissions, Trump’s “official” delegation is coming with “fake news” in hand to promote more coal, and more global warming emissions. The director of the International Institute for the Environment and Development, Andrew Norton, expressed the sentiments of the rest of the world at the news Trump was sending the coal industry to argue that burning more carbon emitting coal will solve climate change. He said:

Fossil fuels having any role in tackling climate change is beyond absurd. It is dangerous. These talks are not the place for pushing the fossil fuel agenda. The US needs to come back to the table and help with the rapid cuts in emissions that the situation demands.

A perennial participant in climate change talks, Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists, weighed in and rightly expressed the real reason Trump even sent his fossil fuel contingent to argue that more carbon emissions will solve climate change. Mr. Meyer said:

It’s not a credible solution, but that doesn’t seem to bother them. They might even welcome some of the reaction to show to their base that they are fighting for America’s interest and not this globalist malarkey.”

Meyer is right, of course Trump and his coal cabal will play up the “us against the world” sentiment despite America is now an outlier and increasingly a bastard in the family of nations. It is also no part of nations that regard their populations’ health and well-being or accept mountains of empirical scientific data screaming that a concerted global effort is needed to prevent a global catastrophe.

American exceptionalism used to be something to be proud of, but that officially ended the day of Trump’s poorly-attended inauguration. To be exceptional as the only nation on Earth “institutionalizing climate change denial” as official government policy when every other nation on the planet is joining a global effort to combat climate change is humiliating and dangerous. Trump’s idea of America first means America is alone and isolated; now it is an honest-to-dog existential threat to the planet.

Pruitt’s Clean Power Repeal Means Death for Americans

Shortly after Trump’s poorly attended inauguration, scientists at several federal agencies said they were told they can no longer speak to the media or use social media because the new administration rejects science – they claim it hurts Republicans’ fossil fuel donors.  Over at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), staffers were notified that going forward any scientific work would have to be reviewed by fossil fuel advocates appointed by Republican politicians to stop scientists’ attacks on the dirty energy industry.

Yesterday, the Republican whose prior claim to fame was thwarting the EPA by keeping the agency tied up in the courts ignored science the EPA depends on to protect Americans. In fact Scott Pruitt boasted often that he was “the leading advocate against the EPA,” but because he still doesn’t have the authority to unilaterally destroy the agency he runs, he used his position to repeal the agency’s Clean Power Plan to put a rapid end to the critical effort of reducing carbon emissions. Remember, the mission of the EPA is “protecting human health and the environment by issuing regulations and enforcing the nation’s environmental laws.” Scott Pruitt rejects the concept of protecting human health and the environment because he is a shill for the fossil fuel industry.

Pruitt went to Kentucky on Monday and proudly announced that as the man tasked with protecting the nation’s environment, he is unilaterally repealing the Clean Power Plan – because it was founded on science and created to protect the nation’s environment and not the Koch brothers’ wealth. The Clean Power Plan was also put in place to protect current and future Americans by aiding the effort to reduce the effects of anthropogenic climate change Trump says is a Chinese hoax. Trump claims the preponderance of atmospheric and oceanic scientists are lying about global warming because he saw snow falling someplace.

Pruitt’s action is just one of the reasons why the fossil fuel industry contributes millions to elect Republicans, and as expected their dirty investments are paying off.  The Koch brothers, in particular, have called for abolishing the EPA for well over 30 years and no doubt they are getting antsy to see the agency abolished. Now that they are co-owners of the government with the religious right, their prayers to the fossil fuel gods are being answered by a dyed-in-the-wool evangelical whose fealty to fossil fuels rivals his devotion to evangelical radicalism.

Pruitt claims his action will end the “war on coal” and the industry will explode. But as the industry has admitted often as of late, nothing Trump or Pruitt does will halt the “decline of coal” or create jobs that have been replaced by mechanization. Coal’s decline is also evident according to the explosion in green energy jobs and cheaper electrical generating costs as more utilities and states have shifted to cheaper and cleaner wind, natural gas, and solar to save money. Many states are going forward with targets set by the Clean Power Plan because of the health and cost benefits of not using dirty coal-fired electricity generating plants. Coal is responsible for “about one-third of America’s carbon dioxide emissions.”

Pruitt and Trump both lie profusely that their attacks on the EPA and advocacy for dirty fossil fuels is good for America and helps their crusade to protect the people and the environment. However, as former EPA head Gina McCarthy notes:

Pruitt’s proposal does nothing to protect public health and the natural resources we need to survive and thrive. It’s not smart or economically sound. It ignores the investment opportunities and health benefits of our country’s transition to cleaner energy. And it ignores climate change solutions that are plentiful, less expensive than traditional fossil fuels and producing jobs 12 times faster than the rest of the economy.”

Colorado’s Governor, John Hickenlooper noted that his state is already surpassing their goals with jobs and a cleaner environment after “closing coal plants and developing wind and other renewables.” He added: “We have dramatically cleaner air and we are saving money. My question to [the Pruitt] E.P.A. would be ‘which part of that don’t you like?’”

This latest environmental abomination comes on the heels of the Department of Energy’s plan to subsidize (give taxpayer dollars) coal plants by “revamping (controlling) electricity markets.” Apparently Republicans do not really advocate for “free markets” if they intend on giving the coal industry taxpayers’ dollars the same way they do the dirty, and filthy rich, oil industry.

The director of the environmental law program at Harvard Law School, Jody Freeman, said that coupled with taxpayer-funded coal subsidies, repealing the Clean Power Plan is a glaring signal that Trump’s administration is  “putting its thumb on the scale in favor of fossil fuels.” Ms. Freeman added:

You see a pretty powerful message. Disavow any effort to control greenhouse gases in the power sector, and instead, intervene in the market to promote coal. It’s a wow!”

It is an expected “wow,” and an abomination for Americans concerned about the damage they see every day from the effects of climate change, or those enjoying cleaner air and water as well as lower electricity bills, or the explosion of well-paying jobs nationwide. According to the EPA’s assessment prior to being run by Pruitt, the Clean Power Plan would prevent about 3,600 premature deaths and 90,000 childhood asthma attacks every year. But Pruitt and Trump could not care less about those statistics; damn the effects of climate change, damn clean air and water, and god damn the American people’s health and welfare.

No matter the economic and health benefits of combatting climate change, Republicans are bound and determined to wipe out those benefits regardless of the adverse effects to the people’s health, climate, and America’s economic well-being. They are also gleefully wiping out any chance of saving the next few generations from the already occurring devastation of global warming because they owe the Koch brothers’ fossil fuel industry a world of favors. They know without the Kochs’ largesse Republicans would not control the government or the ability to negatively impact Americans’ lives; a goal looking more and more like the only reasons the Republican Party exists.