Environmentalists landed a huge win today with the Obama Administration’s announcement that it would reject the controversial Keystone pipeline. Republicans were apoplectic that the White House would reject such a no-brainer project, as they thought it was. Obama and his State Department said that they simply didn’t have enough time to complete the environmental review of the project.
But here at Spinach HQ, it’s important to call it like we see it — and in this case, environmentalists won, but they weren’t exactly honest in doing so.
In recent months, green groups had made Keystone about local enviconmentalism. They were concerned, they said, about ecology in places like Idaho or Nebraska, where the line may have passed. Don’t subject those ecosystems to a bulky and obtuse line. Nix the pipeline, they said.
But to understand how foolish this reasoning is, one need only look at this map.
This map shows all of the pipelines that currently carry oil. There are thousands of miles, many of which criss-cross the middle of the country–places like, say, Nebraska. Saying that the U.S.’s fragile environment can’t withstand another pipeline is like saying that your neighborhood would be ruined by adding another lamp post. Not quite an airtight argument
The REAL reason environmentalists opposed the project was far loftier. They oppose dirty fossil fuel energy and see Keystone as a barrier on the path toward clean, plentiful renewable energy.
That’s a valiant goal, and we Spinacheaters certainly agree. But it’s worth noting that this oil will still be produced from tar sands in Canada. Except now, our northern neighbors may sell it to someone else, like the Chinese, who have far more lax environmental standards.
If it sounds like it amounts to a giant what if, that’s because it is. But while environmentalists are celebrating their victory, it’s worth noting that they changed the terms of the debate midstream. Just as we’d call out the opposition for doing the same, it’s important to occasionally do to ourselves.