Sorry, Anti-Keystoners

Jan. 9, 2013

Twitter is like a box of online chocolates—you never know what you’re going to get when you log on. You don’t expect to see something about the Keystone XL pipeline courtesy of the Minnesota Vikings’ punter.

I like to “follow” an eclectic bunch both inside and outside construction. My follows range from underground experts Ditch Witch to the almost poetic expletives of Samuel L. Jackson to the very pointy conservative brain of Charles Krauthammer.

Sometimes reading everyone’s thoughts and links pays off. Other times it leads to logging off slightly dumber than you were when you logged on.

The Viking Chris Kluwe, known more in Twitter circles for his rabid support of gay marriage and his addiction to gaming than for his foot, recently tweeted a link to an article on It’s a non-profit “new media news center” with a mission to “inform, inspire and ignite change for the common good.” (Trees that don’t like their personal space invaded—beware!)

The article talks about a new scientific study (in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) said to prove that tar sands oil is highly carcinogenic and that contamination in Alberta, Canada, where the oil is extracted is more widespread than anyone thought. Music to the ears of the Anti-Keystoners, my name for this environmental movement du jour. The long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline, of course, is designed to move oil from Alberta into and through much of the U.S.

People in Texas are already chaining themselves to equipment over the project, and mighty hard.

First, is anyone shocked that the oil is highly carcinogenic? Here’s a tip, don’t cook with it! Second, the Keystone pipeline is not a mine. There will be no mining or burning going on here for this project, only transport.

That said, the study’s findings may be the most grim oil sands-related information I’ve seen. Yes, it’s not good for a largely desolate area in Alberta. But it’s not bad enough to merit stopping progress in this country.

I love the outdoors and animals as much as the next guy, maybe more; however, until the oil in Alberta is proven to kill people, until I’m convinced the patch of land pictured at the top of the article is going to multiply one hundredfold and reach out and strangle someone, I have to side with the living—and the living need jobs, proven energy sources, and any measure of economic help they can get.

It’s inevitable that there are going to be brownfields, stripped land and even spills in the name of progress, sure as eggs are broken to make the proverbial omelet. It’s been that way since shortly after man began to walk the earth, work with tools, and organize into societies. There is ugly and there is beauty. Nothing is, or will ever be, perfect.

Let’s just limit the damage as best we can without stifling the “now.”

The future will see additional energy sources developed (don’t kid yourself that they’ll all be clean and green), and future generations will continue to find ways to balance business and the environment. They will do the things they have to do for both survival and stewardship; it’s not entirely up to us.

Swings too far to one pole or the other have a way of evening out over time. We’re still here, aren’t we?

Got a comment? E-mail [email protected]. You can follow Frank Raczon on Twitter here.

About the Author

Frank Raczon

Raczon’s writing career spans nearly 25 years, including magazine publishing and public relations work with some of the industry’s major equipment manufacturers. He has won numerous awards in his career, including nods from the Construction Writers Association, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, and BtoB magazine. He is responsible for the magazine's Buying Files.