Never mind the Binders Full of Women.
“We’re going to bring that pipeline in from Canada. How in the world the president said no to that pipeline? I will never know.”
What Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney also didn’t seem to know, or want to let on in the second Presidential debate, was that the southern portion of the Keystone XL pipeline is actually already being laid out. The last Texas landowners contesting the seizure of their land by eminent domain lost a court battle at the end of September. Since then they have been watching helplessly as excavators and workmen cleared their land in preparation for laying the pipeline.
It has not been without a fight. Protesters have been ever-present, camping in trees and standing in front of excavators in attempts to stop the destruction. Two New York Times journalists were detained and nearly arrested as they attempted to interview the tree protesters. Actress Daryl Hannah was arrested alongside 78-year-old landowner Eleanor Fairchild as they stood in front of an excavator that was clearing the land to make way for the pipeline.
“I will fight for oil, coal and natural gas. And the proof, the proof of whether a strategy is working or not is what the price is that you’re paying at the pump,” Romney said. “If you’re paying less than you paid a year or two ago, why, then, the strategy is working. But you’re paying more.”
He added, “If the president’s energy policies are working, you’re going to see the cost of energy come down. I will fight to create more energy in this country, to get America energy secure. And part of that is bringing in a pipeline of oil from Canada, taking advantage of the oil and coal we have here, drilling offshore in Alaska, drilling offshore in Virginia where the people want it. Those things will get us the energy we need.”
However, indications are that building Keystone XL will not actually bring down the price of gasoline and oil, because the pipeline is bringing the oil—and not just any oil, but thick, sludgy, bituminous crude from the Alberta oil sands in Canada—to the coast for export. Neither will it create jobs or energy security, according to other reports. In other words, as former New York Times reporter Chris Hedges, now a senior fellow at the Nation Institute, puts it, we are committing “ecological suicide” in the name of corporate profit.
“Keystone XL is part of the final phase of extreme exploitation by the corporate state,” the veteran foreign correspondent and Pulitzer-prize winning reporter wrote on TruthDig. “The corporations intend to squeeze the last vestiges of profit from an ecosystem careening toward collapse.”
Obama did not mention Keystone XL per se in terms of what had been permitted and what is being built. He spoke to strengthening the economy, briefly alluding to how much pipeline already exists.
“What I want to do is to create an economy that is strong, and at the same time produce energy,” he said. “And with respect to this pipeline that Governor Romney keeps on talking about, we’ve—we’ve built enough pipeline to wrap around the entire earth once.”
He went on to say, “So, I’m all for pipelines. I’m all for oil production. What I’m not for is us ignoring the other half of the equation.”
The other half of the equation, Obama said, is measures such as wind energy and other renewable fuel sources.
Politics aside, the Nebraska Bold coalition that stands against that northern U.S. leg of the pipeline pointed out several reasons for not accepting the project as proposed.
In a media statement just after the debate ended, the group said that besides not wanting to lose their property to eminent domain, residents and landowners are concerned about the riskiness of the proposed route, which would cross the Sandhills and the Ogallala Aquifer. The group also pointed out, as have others, that extraction of oil sands crude generates many times more carbon emissions than regular oil extraction.
“Governor Romney is turning his back on American landowners with his support of a risky, tar sands export pipeline," said Jane Kleeb, director of Bold Nebraska, in a media release. "We need a new energy policy, one that respects property rights, protects water and starts the transition to clean energy economy. While the Keystone XL pipeline might be part of an ‘all of the above’ strategy, it destroys our environment and allows a foreign company to use eminent domain on Americans, and that is simply wrong.”