Tar sands mine site in Canada.
The evidence that the pipelines aren’t needed is overwhelming. The idea that they would create significant numbers of jobs is laughable. The threat they represent to the environment—both directly, and indirectly—is sizable. But the money Trump was handed by pipeline promoters didn’t stop at contributing to his campaign. They put big cash directly in his pocket.
And now they get their reward.
President Donald Trump intends to sign two executive actions today that would advance construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, according to a person familiar with the matter.
For the thousands who have participated in protests leading to a reevaluation and eventual halt on these projects, this is a direct slap in the face. For Trump’s backers in the oil industry, it’s a big fat reward. One that will not only affect the balance of trade, and export oil jobs to Canada.
Keystone XL would wipe out the U.S. trade surplus, and a hike in the price of oil to $75 or $80 a barrel would suddenly turn it to deficit.
The oil for the Keystone pipeline comes from tar sands deposits in Canada that produce much more pollution than other types of oil production.
Trump: ’I am, to a large extent, an environmentalist. Believe me. But it is, to a large extent, out of control”
— Sam Stein (@samsteinhp) January 24, 2017
And, it’s official:
BREAKING: Trump signs executive actions to advance the construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines.
— AP Politics (@AP_Politics) January 24, 2017
Your feelings on the pipeline aside, it’s well-established among scientists that extraction of oil from these oil sands (also known as tar sands) is environmentally dicey. The petroleum found in them doesn’t flow easily like conventional crude—it’s a sticky, viscous type formally known as bitumen but more commonly known as tar—so companies have to resort to alternate measures, either surface mining (digging up the rock or sand covering the oil-laden sediment) or injecting steam to get it out of the Earth.
This uses up an enormous amount of water, distributes toxic metals into the surrounding watershed and perhaps most important leads to an estimated 14 percent higher level of greenhouse gas emissions than conventional oil, because some natural gas must be burned simply to convert the bitumen into a usable form.
But don’t worry. With the EPA grants shut down and communications cut off, you won’t be hearing any more of this unpleasant information. That same goes for Trump’s promise to auto executives that he’s going to cut environmental regulations.
The Water Protectors and others who have worked so hard to keep these pipeline projects from being completed, will now shoulder an even greater burden against hostile forces that have the backing of the government. The big question will be: How many others step up to join them?