Don’t Accept False Choices, the Right Choice is Denying Keystone XL

The recent collision and explosion of oil rail cars in North Dakota followed by the evacuation and fire aboard on oil train in New Brunswick, have again highlighted the extreme dangers of transporting oil. These accidents are just a few months removed from the horrible tragedy that occurred when several runaway rail cars exploded and incinerated downtown Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, leaving many dead and the town destroyed.

An oil transport train travels through Bad Rock Canyon, Montana, just west of Columbia Falls. Flickr photo by Roy Luck.
An oil transport train travels through Bad Rock Canyon, Montana, just west of Columbia Falls. Flickr photo by Roy Luck.
Some cynics have suggested that such rail disasters serve as a justification for moving oil by pipelines like the Keystone XL. However, as residents in Michigan, Arkansas and far too many other places will tell you, spills from oil pipelines are devastating. They destroy the environment, injure and kill wildlife, expose residents to toxins and permanently force people from their homes. Tar sands spills have proved particularly difficult to clean up, leaving permanent damage in rivers like the Kalamazoo.

The oil industry and its friends are quite adept at serving up false, self-serving and shameless choices to manipulate the public debate and get what they want.  And what they want is massive dirty oil development and a free pass to move climate destroying fuel like tar sands however and wherever they choose.  Predictably, while preaching energy independence, the oil industry is greasing the skids in Congress to make it easier for them to export domestic oil, which would put more communities at risk so Big Oil can profit with zero benefit to American consumers.

Fortunately, we don’t have to accept the cynical choices provided by an industry with little heed for the health of the planet or communities.  President Obama can start by saying no to the Keystone XL pipeline and signal that we are not going to support infrastructure that enables dirty fuel development and generates further carbon pollution.

Turning away from dirty, polluting fuels and advancing rapid growth in clean, responsible, renewable energy is the real choice we face. Denying Keystone XL to kick off 2014 would be a big step the President could take in helping us make the right choice.

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