Thursday, February 28, 2013

Battling Media’s Pro-Keystone Advocacy

San Diego's mainstream newspaper, U-T San Diego, recently published an opinion piece advocating approval of Keystone-XL pipeline. I quickly submitted a letter to editor arguing against that project. The letter was published, along with three others in U-T’s print edition, but my letter did not get included in the online edition.  The other three were included. My letter follows:
U-T San Diego’s editorial supporting Keystone XL is penny-wise and pound-foolish.
Getting construction jobs in the U.S. or circumventing a Canada-China pipeline partnership are going for pennies. The real issue not even mentioned in the editorial is the massive quantity of greenhouse gasses that would be released from the Alberta tar-sands. The U.S. should be taking the lead internationally against such foolish projects as extracting bitumen for usable oil. Obtaining useful oil in that manner releases three times the greenhouse gas per barrel as does conventional oil. 
The pound-foolish part of this will push global climate over the tipping point. To achieve climate safety (getting CO2 in the atmosphere below 350 parts per million) will require leaving four-fifths the current fossil fuel reserves in the ground. The Alberta tar-sands project says, “safety be damned.” 
Shortly thereafter, another opinion piece was published, again strongly advocating the pipeline. It almost seamed as if they were shouting louder in response to those opposing their viewpoint.

I followed up with a second letter, assuming it would not be published because it was too soon after my previous letter. Nevertheless, I wanted the editor to get the message I was still against it. True enough, it was not published. This letter said the following: 
If all we did was reject Keystone XL, it would be “the end” for our grandchildren and beyond. And by “our” grandchildren, I mean all grandchildren. More importantly, we must transition completely away from fossil fuels well before extracting even half the conventional reserves still in the ground. But failing to reject Keystone XL would make it dramatically more difficult to bring a halt to fossil-fuel burning. Rather, it would open the pipe filled with even dirtier fossil fuels, three times dirtier than conventional reserves. 
On the one hand, it would be fairly easy to transition away from fossil fuels thru establishment of an ever increasing price on CO2, coupled with an equal dividend to all legal residents. It could be revenue neutral. But no, Keystone XL pipeline would take us in the opposite direction.

In response to these two opinion pieces, several letters opposed to Keystone XL were published. Of these, the predominant message was, given a rejection of the Keystone by the U.S., Canada would not likely build a pipeline to the west coast and ship the oil to China. There is strong opposition by the Canadian citizens and indigenous peoples to such a pipeline.