November 10, 2011 will go down in the history books as a day when the environmental movement won what they claimed was a victory when US President Barack Obama’s administration put off the building of an oil pipeline until after the 2012 US elections.
The controversial Keystone XL pipeline from Canada had been stopped.
Robert Redford, the actor, was happy with the announcement. In a statement released by the Natural Resources Defense Council today Redford said, “This is American democracy at its best: a President who listens to the voice of the people and shows the courage to do what’s right for the country. Thank you, Mr. President, for standing up to Big Oil. Thank you for standing up for us all.”
With the State Department announcement that it would study alternate routes for the $7-billion pipeline, the administration sought to calm the environmentalist movement that has mobilized against the proposal — no small matter for Obama given activists’ threats that they might abandon his reelection campaign.
As Friends of the Earth put it, the Canadian oil and gas company TransCanada hoped to begin building a new oil pipeline that would trek close to 2,000 miles from Alberta, Canada to Texas. If constructed, the pipeline would carry one of the world’s dirtiest fuels: tar sands oil. Along its route from Alberta to Texas, this pipeline could devastate ecosystems and pollute water sources, and would jeopardize public health, the environmental group said.
But even environmentalists don’t all agree
On the face of it, the back-down by the US government was a victory for those concerned about the environmental damage that could be caused by the pipeline. But even some environmentalists or those who stood on the fence wondered whether blocking the pipeline would really be beneficial in the greater scheme of things – on a world level.
One Reuters columnist wondered if the Keystone XL pipeline dies, might China be the winner, with Canada delivering the oil from its tar sands by land and sea, and all the pollution that may cause.
Melissa C. Lott in a blog in Scientific American wondered whether the activists were on the right path.
For another “take” on this “victory,” check out this Forbes Magazine blog post by Christopher Helman. Of course, Forbes columnists are
unlikely to side with the environmentalists.
But the arguments are worth reading.
Victory over the pipeline
It is not over until it is over. Although a victory has been declared, a battle won, the war continues against destructive mining practices. And the Keystone XL pipeline remains to be debated again after the 2012 U.S. presidential election. For more information: