Tag Archives: Keystonexl

Keystone XL obsession, explained

With the Keystone XL pipeline proposal in the news again, lately, this seems like a good moment to pull another item up from my archives. It attempts to explain the bizarre depth of Republican politicians’ obsession with a pipeline that supposedly won’t make much of of a difference to anything, an obsession that seems all the more arbitrary with oil prices tumbling.

I created this about three years ago, and would probably adjust it a bit if I were starting over today. The red slice would probably be at least 50%, e.g. But, obviously, this is essentially a “fake” infographic; the relative proportions are the point rather than precise numbers.

Because they're psychotic.

Keystone XL

Let’s be clear on something. The KeystoneXL pipeline project is a pipeline to bigger climate risks.

This is a basic fact, regardless of any official report stating otherwise. As a friend of mine with an MBA has confirmed, the main thing he learned in earning it is that for any analysis of this scale, 2 + 2 = “whatever you want it to.”

The suggestion that “building this pipeline will not contribute substantially to carbon pollution” does not stand up to simpler, less “flexible” tests. The client for this project is an industry that enables the combustion of very, very dirty carbon fuels. That’s how they make money, that’s their agenda, that’s the purpose of this pipeline. If the assertion that “the pipeline won’t make a difference to climate change because the tar sands will be burned either way” were true, why would TransCanada (and its subsidiary, the Canadian Parliament) be so obsessed with their desire for the pipeline?

If it “won’t make a difference,” why waste good resources on a years-long lobbying effort?

Ultimately, any proposal for how pursuit of KXL advances a profit motive, but does not exacerbate carbon pollution, ignores the core problem of climate change politics. If profits from exploitation of fossil fuels were really something separable from increasing carbon pollution, there would not be a controversy. There is one, however, because these phenomena are joined at the hip.

Suggestions to the contrary = making shit up.