Monday, March 3, 2014

Keystone XL Children's Crusade

    I am an unabashed history buff and the news of several hundred students tying themselves to the White House gates, fortunately for them and the poor members of the press who covered this event before Titan hit the Capitol with all its winter fury today, to protest the Keystone XL Pipeline. Nice handmade signs, no violence which is a testament to the rights we enjoy, and the warnings to disburse, arrest, booking and then release to the waiting arms of the organizers.
    Images came to mind of two earlier protests in Washington, D.C. one by students, not against an abstract idea of climate change or save the planet, but the here and now of young men being drafted, being sent off to Vietnam in a war whose popularity was sinking daily and then coming back in body bags or scarred with visible or invisible wounds. Images of soldiers of the 82nd Airborne in full combat gear protecting the White House, sirens and tear gas filling the air, or students falling to the ground shot dead at Kent State are today as vivid as they were when they occurred. No matter how you slice it this demonstration was more like a Sunday picnic.
   The other also in Washington, D.C. not in the streets or chained to the fences but in the courtroom and the court of public opinion fought primarily by the Sierra Club and other environmental groups with Alaska Native tribes as their allies and their legions of environmental lawyers, not over global warming but over environmental damage that the building of TAPS would cause. Lawyers in court are much more effective than students chained or tied to a fence in terms of delay, even without the presence of the EPA which was still in its formative stage and under Nixon not mobilized yet to fit the war on fossil fuel seen under this Administration. TAPS may never have been built and this country would have been importing 2 million more barrels of oil a day for the last 30 plus years but for one event.
   In retaliation for support of Israel in the Yom Kippur War, OPEC announced an embargo of shipments of oil to the U.S. on October 17, 1973, gasoline prices shot through the roof and we faced rationing and demands that Congress act flooded Congress.  Opposition to TAPS, especially among Blues, evaporated as quickly as a puddle of water on a hot day in July in Death Valley. On November 8, 1973 the Trans-Alaska Pipeline Authorization Act came out of joint conference, approved by overwhelming majorities in the Senate and House and signed into law by President Nixon on the 16th of November, 1973. Keystone XL has been languishing just like TAPS and until two days ago, we were not facing an OPEC like moment.
   We are now with the occupation by the Russians of the Crimea. Russia is the largest oil producer in the world; it provides a huge proportion of the oil and natural gas used by the EU and Ukraine, and a great majority of that flows through Ukraine. Any disruption of that flow would be disastrous to the world economy and would adversely affect us also. Having 800,000 more barrels a day coming from a reliable source Canada, coupled with an EPS cessation of its war on fossil fuels and Obama's freeing up drilling on federal lands would do wonders for our independence and job growth.
   Unfortunately, if the students arrested are like most, they are most likely clueless on lessons to be learned from history, even history very, very recent. Now is not the time to protest Keystone XL!
Keystone XL Children's Crusade
I applaud the youth, especially those with cars, for the power of their convictions
But not for the use of sane judgment which seems subject to complete interdiction
It takes not a rocket scientist to realize that we need fossil fuels to subsist
Massive shifts to alternatives that in quantities to support us do not today exist
Will bring this recovery to a complete sputter and complete stall
Energy shortages mean higher prices forcing our poor up against a wall
It also should come as no surprise that shale oil will not stay in the soil
China awaits with baited, hungry breath to consume this Canadian oil
So our youthful protesters with their arrest badge of courage to now display
Might want to consider where such oil should be put in play
Would they prefer such oil to be transported on rail?
Russian roulette on how many trains will near or in towns derail
While all the while ignoring the carbon cost much higher than XL
If you want to send carbon emissions up off the chart where better than to the Chinese?
Where dirty factories, dirty power plants, dirty cars make it impossible to even breathe
Or would they want the oil find its way into American plants and American cars?
Where due to the Feds, increasing emission controls and mileage stars
Plus an added feature in a world with instability and danger to abound
Much safer for U.S. to be taking its oil from Canadian grounds.
Even more so with the Putin Bear sending into the  Crimea armed force
Sending the EU and US with Russia on a very dangerous course
A simple few keystrokes on the pipeline controls at the borders of Ukraine
Oil and gas stop and European prosperity and a good chunk of the world's down the drain.
Riots in the streets in Venezuela, an oil export to us should also make clear
Energy dependence is something more than abstract of climate change we should really fear!
© March 3, 2014 Michael P. Ridley aka the Alaskanpoet


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