Great comment to the State Department on Keystone XL

Vigil-goer calls on President to reject Keystone XL

Vigil-goer calls on President to reject Keystone XL

The damage caused to our atmosphere and our oceans by carbon dioxide that has been released by burning fossil fuels is abundantly clear. The consequences are increasing year by year – acidified oceans harming coral reefs and diatoms (the basis of the oceanic food chain); huge changes in atmospheric patterns that are producing storms and different rainfall and temperature regimes than have been in place for at least 500 years, altering agriculture, silviculture, and the survival of entire ecosystems that are responsible for our hydrological systems. Without reductions in our CO2 output, science has predicted to a high probability that the extreme changes may come to reflect conditions not witnessed in 100,000 years or longer, if we don’t alter our production of CO2.

Leaving fossil fuels in the ground is the best way to stop their use. They are also extraordinary resources, and burning them to power cars, trains, and trucks is absurd in an era when other ways to power these ground transportation devices are available. We will really regret the lack of fossil fuels for those situations for which they are uniquely appropriate if we burn them all up just to roll people from place to place.

Some say that Keystone XL helps the US achieve energy self-sufficiency. Energy self-sufficiency in the US isn’t gained by the US refineries buying Canadian crude from tar sands. This simply guarantees the Canadian companies will make a lot of money. It is good that the US is seeking to be self-sufficient in our energy requirements. However, our national priorities for energy self-sufficiency have been co-opted by the current energy corporate hegemony, to encourage the continued reliance on fossil fuels.

If we prohibit the use of Keystone XL pipelines for transporting tar sand oil, this will slow down its production. British Columbians are barring pipelines to the Pacific Ocean. People in the NE US are coming together to prohibit transport across their states to the Atlantic Ocean. The rest of us need to prohibit transport across the middle of the US to the Gulf of Mexico via Keystone XL.

If we also follow up with mandatory reductions on shipping by rail or truck this would further constrain the Canadian excavation and shipment of tar sands oil.

If, as claimed by a number of critics of Keystone XL pipeline, the refined products are going to be sold to overseas markets, this makes a travesty of the idea that Keystone XL is helping the US be energy self-sufficient. It simply means that the refineries will make money regardless of the long-term needs for fossil fuels in the US for appropriate purposes.

If fossil fuels could be used without releasing CO2 that would be great. Where is the research for that? In the meantime, the only way to reduce CO2 releases is by conservation and by replacing fossil fuels used for generating electricity with solar, wind, tide, heat-pumps, and other already proven technologies that are improving efficiency every year. These, and other as-yet-unknown technologies that might become useful if they are proven to be benign in their impact to the environment (unlike nuclear power which is a very dangerous form of energy production) are the means to energy self-sufficiency and global climate protection. Ground transportation can also be converted to greatly more efficient use of fossil fuels – hybrid vehicles work great!

Our priorities must be switched to solar and wind generated electricity, conservation measures for fuel for heating and transportation, and anything else that we can do to reduce use of fossil fuels. The stakes are immense.

Thanks for considering my point of view and facts in your decisionmaking.


Kay Stewart


About the commenter: Kay Stewart is a volunteer with and landscape architect with a special feel for melding plants and construction to create serene or playful outdoor places for her clients. She lives with her husband and her tabby cat.

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