Concerning the Keystone pipeline, the president provided a hint of his current thinking on the issue, stating that he would consider approval only if it does not worsen carbon pollution. Given the nature of tar-sands oil, how would the pipeline not hurt efforts to limit that pollution?
While Obama is facing intense pressure from advocates on both sides of the pipeline proposal, Canadian leaders are involved in their own lobbying efforts, saying that if the U.S. does not want the tar-sands oil, they will find a nation that does, like China.
Meanwhile, over the weekend, an annual Tar Sands Healing Walk led by a coalition of Native North Americans and environmental groups gave participants a chance to see firsthand the lands that have been scarred by what Canadian folksinger Sarah Harmer called “the largest unsustainable development project on the planet.”
“Can you imagine the water coming out of your tap contaminated to the point where you and your family must live on bottled water for five months,” Harmer asked in a commentary that appeared in the Huffington Post .
“Once-healthy children are now experiencing breathing problems because of the pollution coming out of the smoke stacks. People are unable to fish from the rivers that they have always fished, because oil extraction processes have poisoned the waters. These are the realities that some First Nations communities in Alberta experience daily, and which our Canadian government ignores.”
The government of the United States should not ignore those realities.
There are too many reasons to kill the Keystone pipeline. It is time to move away from fossil-fuel development, and building a major pipeline to carry oil from a region that is becoming a scarred wasteland is not moving in the right direction.
But Obama continues to believe that natural gas drilling through fracking is a positive step compared to burning coal and oil. While gas may be cleaner, the environmental impacts can still be dire.
The last compromise the nation needs is for the president to do what is right and say “no pipeline” and at the same time use that as a reason to push for natural-gas fracking. Let us allow Gov. Cuomo and state leaders to make up their own minds about fracking — without help from Obama.
Cary Brunswick is a columnist for The Daily Star in Oneonta, N.Y. Contact him at email@example.com.