Elections have been won. Politics have returned to their usual course of selling out to corporate interests. The idea that the average American has a voice in the maneuverings of this machine looks ever more like a sham. How can congress, the president, the supreme court, represent you, when they are paid so many lobbyist dollars to look out for someone else? Anyone not able to to buy a senator loses this conflict of interest every time.
One thing pushed through legislation benefiting no one but corporate interests is the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Keystone XL is a 1700 mile proposed pipeline that will bring 700,000 barrels of oil from Alberta, Canada to refineries in the Gulf Coast. Proponents try to deceive Americans into believing this oil is for them. That is not true. Most will simply go overseas to China and beyond. Transcanada and their bought politicians will rake in profit. The common person will have to worry about whether this toxic snake of a pipeline will poison the soil he uses, or the water she drinks.
A single benefit of this pipeline is hard to find when looking from the bottom of the pyramid scheme. Jobs? Not going to happen. The numbers have been hugely inflated in a dishonest stab at making this foreign corporate cabal project more palatable. Cheaper gas? No, this oil is mostly earmarked for elsewhere than America. The average American is asked to shoulder all of the risk should this pipeline ruin the water and soil of a huge part of the country, and gets to share in absolutely none of the reward.
Another way of looking at Keystone XL is merely racism and class warfare waged on an environmental level. Who is asked to sacrifice? The safety of whose water is at risk? It is not the members of congress who sold us out for $500,000 a piece to make this happen. It is not the money classes who profit from the pipeline.
The ones set to sacrifice are Native American reservations the pipeline is set to go through. Going back to Nixon, there is a tendency to designate Native American reservations as National Sacrifice Areas. This term is code for an acceptable place to toxify the earth and water. As if after a genocide, two hundred years quarantined away from the rest of American society, two hundred years of systematic enfeeblement, Native American populations need to sacrifice more, need to give up even the right to not be poisoned by drinking their water.
Mostly poor, rural farming communities are going to suffer from this. The pipeline cuts through the breadbasket of America. What if oil and the toxic chemicals used to make it soluble get into the water used to raise crops? It quickly becomes apparent whose livelihood the government and corporations have put in the line of fire when it comes to this pipeline.
The Keystone XL won’t do anything for anyone, outside the lobbyists, oil tycoons, and politicians. The extraction of tar sands oil destroys enormous swaths of boreal forest until the land comes to resemble Mordor. The burning of this fuel will accelerate the pollution of the atmosphere until the earth becomes a massive toxic greenhouse. Nothing about the way this oil is transported is safe. And for all that risk, all that environmental catastrophe, absolutely nothing trickles down. It is a feast for the aristocrats of capitalism and their pet heads of state only.
Yes, benefit abounds if you sit on a congressional throne at the heights of the pyramid scheme. Senators voting for the Keystone XL pipeline took an average of $499,648 from the fossil fuel industry (350.org). The Obama cabinet gets about as much every time they grant pipeline proponents an audience. The oil lobby spent $139,753,996 in 2012 (opensecrets). Nearly all of that money is the disenfranchisement of the American people. A mountain of paper and coin that totally drones out the common person’s voice.
What can be done? How can your voice be heard, when the politicians representing you have been paid specifically to not hear your voice on this issue? All the avenues within the system for change seem clogged with lobbyist dollars. The atrocious Citizen’s United supreme court decision even makes this all legal, equating the spending of money with the freedom of speech.
Standing against the lobbyist dollars, the corrupt back scratching of government and corporation, all the money looking out for its own, will be no easy task. Yet these powers underestimate the capacity for resistance. They seem to have hoped no one would notice this pipeline until one morning America wakes up to a 1700 mile long snake cutting through its heart. But that is not happening. Obama was forced to shelf the pipeline at least temporarily over uproar during the 2012 US presidential election cycle. Resistance from Houston to Edmonton is organizing against this project of big money and Citizen’s United politics.
One pipeline now in use ruptured 14 times during 2010, pouring oil onto farmland and polluting ground water with sulfur, nickel, lead and other neurotoxic metals. Even when lines don’t rupture, they often leak at joints because of corrosive and abrasive properties in the oil, and such leaks go undetected for long periods in our ranches and prairies. Tar sands oil is not normal crude. The calamity in the Kalamazoo River July of 2010 in Michian still defies cleanup efforts because oil sinks to the bottom. The river is toxic and uninhabitable for any life to this day. Now there is the spill in Arkansas. Will Oklahoma be next?
Some may view such actions such as chaining oneself to industrial equipment as extreme. I view people such as 79 year old Nancy Zorn as the only ones who truly grasp the severity of the situation. These industrial projects have the potential to render the water undrinkable and the soil unusable for a huge part of the country.
Maybe a few have seen this picture floating around. It asks a relevant question: at what point do you claim self-defense and fight back?
Imagine aliens came to earth, and scarred the land with pipelines that routinely ruptured, killing wildlife, contaminating water. Imagine these aliens pumped enormous amounts of chemicals into the atmosphere, enough that the ice caps began to melt, and the entire planet grew warmer, unleashing unpredictable cycles of weather across the globe. Imagine these aliens did not care about any of the communities they ravaged, and poisoned you, and your family. Resistance would be inevitable. Why less so when it is corporations instead of aliens?
The Arkansas oil spill, the disaster in Kalamazoo, the rape of the Gulf Coast by BP oil, the oil spill on the Blackfeet reservation, the cover up with Suncor, countless catastrophes have occurred over the last few years. That no thought is given to safety or environmental impact by the oil industry should be obvious by now. Pipelines exist for profit only, at the expense of every land they reside within, and every person who lives in the vicinity.
So fight back. Stop the Keystone XL pipeline by any means necessary. Or it won’t be Athabasca anymore. It won’t be Kalamazoo, Arkansas, the Gulf Coast, or Exxon Valdez. All this sludge will be down in the Oglala aquifer. Anywhere and everywhere from Houston to Edmonton could be poisoned. It could be farms, it could be homelands of indigenous nations, it could be numerous habitats, endless forests that are ruined. Stand up, donate to legal action, join a protest. Raise a fist, get out on the frontlines, confront the empire that endorses this insanity for the sake of those who sit at the top of its pyramid.
Let them run their damn pipeline through the whitehouse lawn. Let all the members of congress whose votes are greased by lobbyist dollars run the pipeline through their front yards. Let the oil tycoons build this pipeline near their grandchildren’s water. Let the mansions be a National Sacrifice Area for once, rather than dumping all this toxicity on the backs of the already disenfranchised, Native American reservations, and agrarian classes.
See you in the picket line, in the court rooms, at the barricades.