Keystone Pipeline Buried Under Busywork

Aug. 29, 2013

Heard about the latest barrier to progress?

The Hill reported that a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline might be delayed until 2014, after the release of a report by the inspector general’s office looking into conflict of interest complaints.

The complaints center around Environmental Resources Management (ERM), a company tasked with preparing an environmental impact statement on Keystone, maintaining it failed to disclose potential conflicts of interest. ERM has worked for TransCanada, the pipeline’s parent, and other oil companies in the past.

I’d wager it’s tough to find experts in the area of environmental impact statements who haven’t done work for oil companies and others perceived as evildoers. Governments and bird sanctuaries aren’t the only entities that order such reports, you know.

No, these are complaints lodged by the very people who want to delay Keystone and keep it from being built.

Even state governors, who know more about their states’ environmentally sensitive areas than Washington does, have endorsed reroutes away from those areas, so the anti-Keystoners have to hang their tin foil hats on something. (By the way, I’m picturing a very special tin foil hat, crafted from hemp.)

The southern leg is well underway and it’s desperation time for these folks. We’re down to reviewing the environmental review process. After this tactic fails, I fully expect they’ll call for a review of the reviewers.

If you’re keeping score at home, well, you can’t; this is the umpteenth needless delay. The Chicago Cubs may win a World Series before this pipeline is finished.

Let’s look at the larger picture. Why is the effort to stop this particular pipeline such a twinkle in the googly eyes of environmentalist lefties?

Because they finally have the (giant) ears of a sympathetic sitting president—their president—the one who can’t get enough regulating, paperhanging and Big Government involvement under the guise of social change.

In this case, the social change is stopping pipelines that carry awful, gooey, objectionable stuff that would be bad for society to touch, eat, drink or look at. Never mind what’s needed for economic progress, commerce, jobs or reducing dependence on Middle Eastern oil. The stance is essentially Mr. Spock gone mad: The needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many.

I’m tired of hearing about leaks that haven’t happened yet, or how oil carried from the sands of Alberta is more toxic than other oils. Toxic is toxic. We get it. Don’t put it on salads.

There’s not a pipeline made that carries zero risk of a leak or isn’t susceptible to earthquakes or accidents. And there are already many, many miles of pipelines that carry oh-so-toxic oil.

If the anti-Keystoners were consistent, they would demand all the other pipelines be dug up and/or dismantled. After all, some of the environmental impact documents on past projects were likely researched and written by people who had once done work for—insert a gasp here—oil companies.

This flavor-of the-month protest has been carried to the ridiculous extreme of calendar years. Anything else you read going forward about Keystone (like arguments repeated ad nauseam about how many jobs the pipeline may or may not create) is simply further smokescreen obscuring no real issue; it’s merely the masking of another lefty social crusade.

Enough already.

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.