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Mann writes: "A State Department report fails to take into account the full climate impacts of Keystone XL. Who is Obama protecting?"

Will Obama approve the Keystone Pipeline? (photo: Getty Images)
Will Obama approve the Keystone Pipeline? (photo: Getty Images)

Approving Keystone XL Could Be the Biggest Mistake of Obama's Presidency

By Michael Mann, Guardian UK

01 February 14


A State Department report fails to take into account the full climate impacts of Keystone XL. Who is Obama protecting?

have made my position on the Keystone XL pipeline quite clear. Approving this hotly debated pipeline would send America down the wrong path. The science tells us now is the time that we should be throwing everything we have into creating a clean 21st century energy economy, not doubling down on the dirty energy that is imperiling our planet.

Now that the State Department has just released a final environmental impact report on Keystone XL, which appears to downplay the threat, and greatly increases the odds that the Obama administration will approve the project, I feel I must weigh in once again.

The simple fact is this: if Keystone XL is built, it will be easier to exploit fossil fuel reserves large enough to drastically destabilize the climate. A direct pipeline to refineries and global markets makes the business of polluting the atmosphere that much cheaper and easier.

The only truly accurate examination of the pipeline would include a full cost accounting its environmental footprint. It needs to take into account how much energy is consumed in refining and transporting the crude from oil sands. It must acknowledge that the pipeline would lower the cost and raise the convenience of extracting and exporting the incredibly carbon-intensive deposits of oil.

There are two main issues at stake in the Keystone XL decision: path dependency and US leadership. Path dependency is the term use to describe the fact that once a policy is put into place, it then constrains future options to those within that policy framework. More simply, the choices we make now determine what choices we get to make in the future.

A classic example is the "qwerty" keyboard layout. Even though this layout may not be the most efficient, it was the first one, and so it became the standard. New keyboard layouts would have to compete with an established format, meaning consumers would have to adapt to a new system they had no experience with. On the basis solely of legacy, inferior standards or policies remain in place, more or less out of inertia.

So, looking through the lens of path dependency, what does the Keystone XL project look like?

It looks like decades of extracting high-CO2 fuel at a time when we should be winding down such carbon intensive resource exploitation. It looks like decades of oil spills across America's heartland written off as an acceptable side effect of making money. It looks like decades of continued political lobbying against any CO2-limiting regulations.

If approved and built, it looks like the United State is failing to take climate change seriously by virtually guaranteeing the massive Canadian oil sands reserved are exploited. That, I'm afraid, is the real threat of Keystone XL – the loss of US status as a global leader.

As the world looks to 2015 for the establishment of legally binding emissions targets, it is looking to the US for inspiration and leadership. While opponents of carbon regulations routinely point to China and India as an excuse for further inaction, the US is still the dominant force in world politics. If Obama puts his foot down and tells us the pipeline will not be built, he will be telling the world that the United States is committed to a future powered by clean renewable energy. For better or for worse, as the US goes so goes the planet.

If the United States takes the climatologically necessary step of preventing the Keystone pipeline, it sends a message more powerful than any protest, watered down regulation or rosy proclamation. It says that business as usual is no longer an option. It says carbon pollution is a serious problem. It says that we will no longer be held hostage by ideologues demanding, "More fossil fuels, or the economy gets it!"

Protecting our planet from Keystone XL would protect US standing on the global stage, and by reassuring all nations that the United States takes climate change seriously, it would protect international negotiations from devolving into a finger pointing, blame shifting debacle. Protecting us from Keystone XL would protect us from decades of continued foreign influence on US energy policy. Protecting us from Keystone XL would protect US land from oil spills and leaks.

Most importantly, protecting us from Keystone XL would protect our atmosphere from one of the most carbon-intensive fuels ever discovered.

If the president won't protect us, who is he protecting? your social media marketing partner


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We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

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It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

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Founder, Reader Supported News

+3 # walthe310 2014-02-01 14:13
+64 # Barbara K 2014-02-01 14:17
I truly hope he does not approve it. It could turn into a terrible disaster for our country. We already have so many natural disasters, like Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Floods, Earthquakes, Wildfires, etc., that could damage that thing and destroy vast areas of our country FOREVER.

+31 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2014-02-01 17:33
The crude will be on its way to Southern refineries. The pipeline which will transport a distillate to Canada from the U.S. has previously been approved. The distillate is used to mix with Alberta Tar Sands to make it more easily transported, pumped. This deal was based on I believe, Democracy. Also called "the Democracy of money." I surmize, as more dollars were offered to approve the deal, the more the deal looked like it was "in the bag." Com'on guys, it appears politics as usual. Lots of people got paid off in this deal. There is a truth in politics, "someone must suffer so that another may live." In the animal kingdom, the food chain, one animal must die so that the predator(s) can live. Obama did say, "if the Keystone Pipeline project does not SIGNIFICANTLY affect the climate." Then, he stopped talking. Prior to the State Of The Union address, I heard this comment. What does "significantly" mean to you? Politics is the science of perception. The government stated that Keystone Pipeline will not seriously affect the climate and this was announced (AFTER) the State Of The Union address. So, what did you or I get? A minimum wage raise and a ruse which while good, I doubt affects you or I.

The Keystone Pipeline will get approved. Obama and his Plutocrat friends will live. You and I get to slowly die. That is how the animal kingdom operates. Obama was just being a "good animal." He knew the rules and he used them to the Plutocrats and his advantage.
+28 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2014-02-01 17:45
Bill Maher, last night, "Real Time With bill Maher." He asked, "when is the last time you had a face to face talk with your congressman?" If you have not, he then stated, "the majority of congressmen are now millionaires." I am registered as an Independent, a Progressive Independent. A few years ago, I, while I have strong feelings for the Deomcratic Party, could no longer in good conscience be a member of the Party. Please do not vote party lines, party tickets. Please think about becoming an Independent. Make those bastard politicians work for you, and not for the 1 %. Yes, senator Warren, Alan Grayson, a few of the bright lights in our future. I love these people even more now that I became an Independent. Why? Because I did not drag stinking baggage in with the good honorable value people like Warren, Grayson, Sanders. Only 13 % of Americans have a favorable attitude toward congress. Why is it that 90 % get elected back to their office. They know, "once in, we stay in. Hard to get us out."

Being a little cynical, now that we have the Affordable Care Act on the books, and assuming the Keystone Project is approved, we may all need the ACA even more.
+24 # geraldom 2014-02-01 18:20
Wasn't it Congressman Alan Grayson who set up those placards in the House that hilariously explained the Republican health care plan to the American people, you know, the ones that said "If you get sick and you're poor and cannot afford medical care, then please die quickly!."

I wish that those good liberal/progres sive Democrats and independents like Bernie Sanders would grow some huevos and do that all the time on health care and other important and key issues, everyday if possible whenever the House or the Senate is in session. Then maybe, just maybe, they can embarrass the Republicans enough in front of the American public that the Republicans might change their tune.

I wish that they would do that even with Obama when he is wrong, like the TPP as an example or the NDAA that he modified to allow him to become prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner, even with American lives without any due process as guaranteed by our Constitution and our Bill of Rights, if for no other reason then to force some public response out of him.

But, I suspect, for as much as the Republicans might complain and bellyache about these stunts, they will never lose their spots.
+30 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2014-02-01 19:59
Good post. If my memery serves me correctly, those placards, his agressively stating the truth caused him his seat. Then, the public realized they need him back in office and he was again elected. When he displayed those placards, he thought his principles were more important than his job. What courage!
-2 # grandma lynn 2014-02-01 20:21
I just had mass e-mail from Sen. Warren and my respect for her dropped. She's jumping onto the Obama bandwagon raising the easy issue of raising minimum wage. I expected deliverance of "living wage" from Obama, also "fair trade" not more free trade, especially the new one in Asia now - is it TTP or something like that? I'd be Independent now and not Democrat and wait to see if Bernie Sanders will run as a savvy Democrat. He'd really raise the bar - leaving Warren in the dust, too.
-1 # TCinLA 2014-02-02 00:14
So as an "independent" there are any Republicans you are going to be moron enough to vote for, dear idiot?
-1 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2014-02-02 13:44
I printed your message. I am now walking toward the smallest room in my house. I am sitting down. Soon your message will be behind me. I just flushed the toilet.
+11 # geraldom 2014-02-01 17:50
Quoting Barbara K:
I truly hope he does not approve it. It could turn into a terrible disaster for our country. We already have so many natural disasters, like Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Floods, Earthquakes, Wildfires, etc., that could damage that thing and destroy vast areas of our country FOREVER.


Obama is a lame duck president. His future is pretty much set concrete whether or not he approves of the Keystone XL pipeline.

He cannot run for office again as president and is certainly guaranteed an extremely comfortable retirement. But if Obama does approve the Keystone XL pipeline which is very likely and will, in all probability, happen, he could very well cause enough damage to the Democratic Party both at the national and state levels as happened in the 2010 midterm elections, that it could be the final nail in the coffin for the Democratic Party.
+17 # grandma lynn 2014-02-01 20:22
Obama is not even a duck. A duck parent leads the babies as safely as she / he can. Obama is a wooden decoy.
0 # RHytonen 2014-02-02 09:04
Killing the Democratic "Party" won't logically or functionally place the Republicans in office.

It's no longer 2010.
The Korporatist Kabuki is OVER.
The curtain has been lifted.
Millions are "cutting the cable."

VERY few are still so stupid as to tolerate corporate rule, or Fascism.
+6 # geraldom 2014-02-02 19:15
RHytonen, I truly hope that you're right. I feel that you're being a little bit too optimistic. I tend to think like a realist based on the real world.

At best, we still unfortunately have a two-party system in this country based on the current structure.

You also fail to take into account the many negative changes that have taken place in our electoral system ever since the debacle of the 2000 presidential elections, all at the hands of the Repubs. For example:

o Soon after the stolen election by Bush and the Repubs in 2000 and the takeover of Congress by the Repubs, Bush and the Repubs succeeded in passing HAVA, the Help America Vote Act, with the naive and stupid support of the Dems, which now mandates only the use of e-voting machines for all elections in this country at the national, state and local levels.

o These e-voting machines are unfortunately designed, manufactured, and programmed by private companies who support the Republican Party and its agenda. No more paper ballots counted by human hands and human eyes.

o Because of the 2010 debacle which was blowback by voters who supported Obama and the Dems in 2008 because they felt betrayed, the Repubs took over many of the large battleground states, gerrymandered them to death and, as a result of the death of the VRA thanks to SCOTUS, have now passed voter suppression laws designed to kill the Democratic vote.

o Did I forget to mention the complete takeover of our legal system by the Repubs?
+4 # Texan 4 Peace 2014-02-03 12:52
As a lame duck, he should be thinking about his legacy instead of serving his corporate masters.
+21 # Holy Cow 2014-02-01 18:03
Before replying to you Barbara K, I want to say thank you so much, Michael Mann, for '...weighing in once again". I'd actually be happy to put on more pounds, if I could 'weigh in' nearly as well as you do.

And, dear Barbara so right you are again, to gather up and include a number of natural disasters in with the soon to happen pipeline disaster, so sorry to say. What's the common dreadful factor I cannot help but jump onto? Ruination, first and foremost, of water, water, water.

And this goes on while the Kochsuckers and their minions grab up all water rights they can get their evil/greedy hands on. Does not take a genius (or an overly intuitive - fey - Irish devil like me, with a journ. and legal background) to predict what is comin' - more $$$$$ into the bottomless coffers of the fossil 'fooler' villainaires, with upping and then some of the price of more and more scarce drinking water.

-20 # TCinLA 2014-02-02 00:17
And that's going to happen in 5... 4... 3...

Idiots like you have been chanting bullshit like that for around 140 years now. I see it's gotten you a long way toward your goal, yes?
+1 # Malcolm 2014-02-03 15:37
Thanks for keeping your reply so short. I'm sure it's appreciated, considering how brilliant you are and all.
+3 # mstrdig 2014-02-02 10:48
starve the populace into compliance and then to death, that's the real mission statement of the republicans and their corporate handlers.
+10 # grandma lynn 2014-02-01 20:18
Around the country on Monday night will be protests against Keystone XL pipeline. I'm going to the 6 p.m. one at NH Statehouse in Concord. Find your local one at:
+2 # mstrdig 2014-02-02 10:42
the true terrorism is climate behavior, we cannot call it anything else, "they" day it lacks scientific justification. they are exempting experiential justification, conveniently.
+61 # indian weaver 2014-02-01 14:22
Obama will OK the pipeline. He's proven he's a slave and puppet of the 1%. He has no courage, which is what it'd take to help The People and The Planet, in opposition to those destroying our lives and planet. No reason exists to think Obama may not approve it. He's got a big mouth and no backbone, from Day 1.
+64 # CAMUS1111 2014-02-01 14:32
And Hillary would do the same. Pathetic.
+16 # Farafalla 2014-02-01 16:15
Indeed, the move to approve the KXL will discourage a generation of young voters from voting for the Dems ever again or in the upcoming elections, paving the way for a big GOP victory. Approving KXL threatens the whole future of the country and the world. Leave the stuff in the ground.
+13 # Inspired Citizen 2014-02-01 17:55
I've seen that argued on Facebook, but it might also pave the way for a genuine progressive Party, the Green Party perhaps, to finally move into the mainstream in 2020. Of course, by then it will be too late because of "path dependency."

Obama talks like a progressive and governs like a Republican. The TPP is proof enough of this, and the KXL will be the nail on the coffin of Earth as we know it, solidifying Obama for what's left of America's future as a corporate tool.
+6 # TCinLA 2014-02-02 00:19
As a Republican troll posted the other day on a progressive blog: "You libs realized yet that you voted to re-elect George W. Obama?"

Sadly, he's right.
0 # jcdav 2014-02-02 21:51
So, just what were the choices? Unless/until WE THE PEOPLE unass and either retake the Dem party or MASSIVELY form a Progressive party we will have the same NON choice. Of course there is the torches and pitchforks option...
+15 # grandma lynn 2014-02-01 20:25
Besides - getting it to Texas, for what? To be exported via the waiting boats that will probably run aground somewhere and pollute our oceans even more. I've had Greenpeace "Message!" checks for more than a decade, and the motif is "Let the Oceans Live!" How far are we traveled from that 1990s hope. KXL is another blot on the planet, and why would a representative- of-the-people President ever allow that? He's a corporate tool.
0 # RHytonen 2014-02-02 08:56
Quoting Agricanto:
Indeed, the move to approve the KXL will discourage a generation of young voters from voting for the Dems ever again or in the upcoming elections, paving the way for a big GOP victory. Approving KXL threatens the whole future of the country and the world. Leave the stuff in the ground.

um.....More Repugs than Dems support the KXL.
Vote GREEN (Mountain in WV)
It has to start somewhere,
and that will never be "-D" or "-R."
+24 # bingers 2014-02-01 17:32
Quoting CAMUS1111:
And Hillary would do the same. Pathetic.

And the problem is that any and every Republican would too.
+22 # dquandle 2014-02-01 17:51
Not pathetic. Actively and assertively criminal.
+18 # chomper2 2014-02-01 17:40
Yes Walt, Barb and Weaver...he'll probably approve it, showing us once again who he really belongs to. Either way, this, far more than anything else, will characterize Obama's presidency. If he approves it, the ultimate global catastrophe will forever be labelled 'his'. If he turns it down, he will be labelled 'hero' and go to the top of the list of Presidents forever. There's no alternative, either for him or for us.
+15 # Henry Braun 2014-02-01 14:26

God said
"Let there be no more dinosaurs
+42 # raclis 2014-02-01 14:31
We are already in the midst of serious climate conditions. The on going and deepening drought in the west and southwest are indicators of this. There was a scientific paper in the morning news that stated the events unfolding right now are following the modeling projected by a number of studies. This all has to do with the Arctic and the consequences of our warming planet. Anything we can do to get off the fossil fuels needs to be promoted now. Men are greedy and find change too hard, especially those in charge and those who have money to make. They will, in the end, ruin any chance we have to survive.

Obama is in some sort of state of mind that defies who we thought he would be. He will not be a person of principle if he does sign off on this pipeline. And those who will go around it in other ways, will be even worse. That oil/sludge is going to make it to China one way or another.
+5 # Peter Attwood 2014-02-01 16:58
When has Obama ever been a person of principle?
+2 # dquandle 2014-02-01 17:51
-3 # grandma lynn 2014-02-01 20:27
Obama is in no state of mind. He abandoned principles. He's a shell. Waiting for a game.
+1 # Malcolm 2014-02-03 15:54
You must be too young to remember the 1930s. We had such dry, dusty, windy weather that highways and bobwire fences were buried-sometime s overnight! It was often dark as night at midday! We put wet sheets and wet blankets over all the doors and windows, and we'd still have brown dust all over everything-it was just too pervasive!

My family and I finally couldn't stand the heat, so we pulled up stakes and drove the old jalopy to California. Best move ever!

Today's drought doesn't even compare with the 30s! The thing that's so bad about this drought is there's so damn many more people now that there's simply not enough water to go around.

And the solution ain't to desalinate the ocean. The solution is simple-keep your zippers in the UP position! There'll be plenty of water when there's less consumers.
0 # Henry Braun 2014-02-05 11:48

Shoulderless tides are raised by a full moon.
Fingerless waters everywhere seek shore.
We’ve got to listen to our bodies soon
For language to solicit answers. Or
We’re done! This world is spinning faster now,
Too fast for ambiguity’s two-headed
Arrows that fly and quickly drop below
The day-by-day planning that is needed.
And so: Let’s not shut up! It's laptop time
To pace worldwide along the new knife edge
Of cyberstraightta lk in flat prose and rhyme.
I hereby take my sonneteering pledge.
+32 # Floe 2014-02-01 14:34
It's all a strategy to get the pipeline flowing. The delay is part of that strategy. The environmental impact report is more than likely conducted under the influence of oil interests. For something so serious, environmentalis ts should seek three environmental impact reports before going ahead and getting a second and third opinion and have some say in the party that conducts the report. As the government uses delaying tactics, environmentalis ts should at least do the same. Of course any party could be paid off to skew the report however it would make it more difficult.
+15 # Jim Young 2014-02-01 15:49
I believe it is a set up, so all the Obama bashing Republicans that fight him on this now, are playing a "Don't throw me in that briar patch" game. Want to bet what happens during the lame duck period in 2016? I'm afraid especially those heading out of office will suddenly approve it with a veto proof majority, and Obama will reveal his true colors by signing it, claiming it was already veto proof.

I HOPE I'M WRONG, but I wouldn't be surprised.
+11 # dquandle 2014-02-01 18:19
Extremely unfortunately for the rest of the planet, you won't be wrong.
+12 # jlohman 2014-02-01 14:38
I don't know if the Keystone (or TPP or Fracking or whatever) is good for us or bad for us, the 99%ers. But I'd feel a lot better if I knew that politicians were not getting a piece of the action (in campaign bribes). My gut says it is bad, but cash works. Only a voter-mandated term-limit in November will correct it.
+53 # Regina 2014-02-01 14:43
What's been conveniently forgotten is the fact that the Canadian "entrepreneurs" had originally planned on taking the pipeline west from Alberta to the coast in Vancouver, but in Canada the Indigenous peoples have enough clout to stop incursions into tribal territories. So the U.S. has become their surrogate -- our indigenous peoples don't have such clout. And in the current mega-drought, who cares about our acquifers? We don't have to wait for climate change -- it's here already,
+32 # Eliz77 2014-02-01 15:09
Yep, Jlohman, Keystone is bad. Fracking is bad. TPP is bad. Bought out pols are bad. Term limits are useless. The people have to wake up from their propaganda bread and circuses stupor and realize that it is up to us to be smart and compassionate. Anger and violence, in the long run, only gets us more of the same old same old. The tea party anger is evidence of that. The 1% has used their righteous anger to run some really bad people and policies into positions of power. The pols the 1% sell as tea party heroes are greedy fear mongers who fail at governing. Look carefully at who is running to represent us. If they have a lot of money, don't vote for them. You can bet it is corporate bribery. After you elect them, don't take your eyes off them. Consider that if you were hiring someone, you and they would expect you to over see their work. Right now it seems that we have a bunch of insane people running our country. If what they are doing is sane, then I am totally crazy. Come to think of it, maybe I am crazy to think we should be kind to each other and care about taking care of our people and the earth's resources that are vital for survival. Am I nuts to think that you can't eat money and you can't drink oil, and you can't breathe methane and sulfur dioxide?
+14 # REDPILLED 2014-02-01 16:55
"If what they are doing is sane, then I am totally crazy. Come to think of it, maybe I am crazy to think we should be kind to each other and care about taking care of our people and the earth's resources that are vital for survival. Am I nuts to think that you can't eat money and you can't drink oil, and you can't breathe methane and sulfur dioxide?"

If you are crazy, then so am I and many, many people I know and am active with.

The problem is that the real psychopaths - those without conscience but with too much ambition - are in power in government and industry.
+3 # Tigre1 2014-02-02 07:49
I still hold with my predilection for guillotines. I believe it is possible to operate a full-sized guillotine in actual practice, say, in 'K' Street, helping lobbyists attain states of being more conducive to US citizens, or on a run down Pennsylvania Ave, or even ta-da!
along mighty plutocratic Wall Street...and to do so, let us remember, with NO anger as an emotional 'driver'...

One could operate from a 'zen' state of mind.

And giggle for a month afterward...
+22 # Eliz77 2014-02-01 15:19
Yes, the people of the land, the indigenous people are standing up against the destruction of our mother, the Earth. It is necessary for us to stand with our sisters and brothers to save our earth and our future.

One of the traditions of many tribes was to gather together all the fat from the summer and fall harvest so that the tribe could live well during the hard winter. If an enemy came in a stole the fat, the tribe suffered. Below is a sonnet I wrote about the pipelines.

A toxic pulsing worm, diseased, too long

Pushes hot death through the living heartland.

The guardian soul cries out, “This is wrong!”

And struggles to stop the destructive hand.

Crushed under bidding of violent greed,

Sacred earth, battered, bleeds an oily puss.

What is this monster, what is the need?

Killing the green for pottage is not just.

Cannot drink bitumen, money’s not food.

Safety’s a joke, promised jobs -- that’s a lie

Families are choking, water’s no good;

To enrich a few, so many must die.

Corrupt and careless the rapers must fail;

Only the people, aroused, can prevail.

Elizabeth Barger 2013
-1 # Tigre1 2014-02-02 07:50
Lizzie Barger!! thank you...!
0 # RHytonen 2014-02-02 08:49
Wonderful Poem Lizzie - I hope you don't mind my sharing it (with full credit before and after..)
+20 # unitedwestand 2014-02-01 15:36
We're all fearful that President Obama will not have the courage to go against the evil fossil fuel profiteers, and we have a reason to be.

For that reason all of us need to constantly harangue all of our legislators and especially the president to not approve this horrible pipeline.

This pipeline would not make many long term jobs, it could be a disaster for the clean water deposits we have left, and it would undermine progress on clean renewable energy, and the fossil fuel profiteers don't give a damn, just to name a few ills.
-1 # dquandle 2014-02-01 18:21
Is not a lack of courage. Its an innate desire in Obama to do the wrong thing all the time as long as it results in staggering profits for those who own him, and reams of power for himself, which he can abuse at will.
0 # geraldom 2014-02-02 20:45
dquandle, unfortunately there are still many diehard Obama supporters out there who do not want think of Obama like you do, that Obama does not lack the courage of his convictions to do the right things, but he truly is what he does and those are his convictions.

I supported and voted for Obama is 2008 and I voted straight Democrat because, like a fool, I truly believed in his message of change that we could believe in. Like many people, I have become an independent, but that has become a dirty word because many of these diehard Obama supporters believe that all independents are willing to vote Republican. But I will never ever vote Republican. If I like the Democrat running, I will vote Democrat, but, if I don't, I will vote for a 3rd party candidate.

Obama is a lame duck president and he has nothing to lose by acting himself. So, whatever he does in his 2nd term reflects his true nature even to his diehard supporters, and so far it's not looking very good.

I knew what Obama really was from the very start of his presidency, from his cabinet selections, very few if any reflected any change from Bush's policies or the financial policies of past presidents.

What scares me the most is that if the most diehard Obama supporters have not yet woken up to reality and have yet to figure out as to what and who Obama truly represents, not to mention a good number who make up the Democratic Party, that this country has no real future as a democracy.

-1 # geraldom 2014-02-02 20:49

In answer to unitedwestand, she has the right idea. What I do is call my democratic representatives and I pull no punches when I tell them that if they and the Democratic Party support legislation like the TPP or the Keystone XL pipeline, that, not only will I work to unseat them from office, but that the Democratic Party will self-destruct and cease to exist as a viable political party.

I would remind them of what happened to the Democrats in the 2010 midterm elections and how the Republicans took over many battleground states and all the damage that this caused the Democratic Party all because the Democrats failed and betrayed their voting base.
+5 # Terry5135 2014-02-01 15:54
Who does he think Obama is protecting?
+5 # REDPILLED 2014-02-01 16:58
His future million$ from the Fossil Fools.
+5 # Tigre1 2014-02-02 07:53
I believe the Pipeline is a Koch Industries project...neith er of the two a&$$%Ole brothers NEED protecting.
The water under the US and the American citizens need the protecting...
+13 # pjmd 2014-02-01 16:10
Great piece, Mike. But the narrowly focused EIR assumes that Tar Sands gunk will get out one way or another rather than be "stranded," where it belongs. THAT notion must be stomped out cold, or the door will remain open to focusing on just the Keystone Catheter itself.
+5 # chomper2 2014-02-01 17:56
Yes, the crap may just go overland to some Canadian port. But at least we in the US would at long last be seen as the leader we have been falsely claiming to be for so many years. If the world could only see us that way, maybe other countries would follow.
+7 # Texas Aggie 2014-02-01 18:22
One reason that they aren't already building their own port facilities is that Canadians are enough of environmentalis ts to raise enough stink to prevent that from happening. If we put up an equal stink, then they would have to come up with plan B.
-26 # handmjones 2014-02-01 16:27
The Houston refineries are the best equipped to handle heavy crude. They have been using much Venezuelan crude. Much of their distillate is re-exported. Canadian heavy oil would simply displace Venezuelan crude. You do have a free trade deal with Canada. If you want less CO2, shut down your coal mines and use our oil.
Personally, in spite of being a TransCanada shareholder, I would prefer that we get our oil to both coasts, upgrade it and compete with Houston in selling distillate on the World market. (the native people are temporarily blocking the northern route to the sea but the route to Vancouver is open)
+16 # REDPILLED 2014-02-01 17:00
The disaster is not only the transporting of yet another fossil fuel, but the burning of any MORE fossil fuels:
Tar sands exploitation would mean game over for climate, warns leading scientist | Environment | The Guardian
+2 # Jim Young 2014-02-01 17:04
And what would you tell the people that believed the lies that this wasn't to be exported, but for cheap energy for Americans (especially with the existing ban on exporting American oil)?

I have a few friends that would be interested in the answer, since they were told, and believe(d), otherwise (which I never have believed).

I follow Deborah Rogers and the Energy Policy Forum for simple, economics only, explanations of how badly the deteriorating EROEI will become for fossil fuels (down from 100 out for 1 in back in the 30s, to a little over 9 out for 1 in around 2000, and down to 3 out for 1 in the harder than ever to extract resources. They wouldn't bother to extract much of this unless they can get over $105 a barrel.

It is not so much new technology as it is the prices have risen so much that they can afford to use some of the expensive technology
+4 # handmjones 2014-02-01 18:49
'They' don't control demand - you do!....and you'll pay Double...trippl e... whatever!
+5 # Jim Young 2014-02-01 21:20
Actually I won't pay double, much less triple.

There are people already building sufficiently grid independent Solar PV powered homes(it is dropping so rapidly in price that last year's manufacturer's investments are lost to the next year's more cost efficient ones).

While many fight for the Net Metering or Feed In Tariffs they thought were necessary last year, they may not have noticed that the quicker way to get the attention of the rentiers that want to keep selling grossly overpriced private profit energy through grids they control, is to take the next step and step away from their grids.

Wendell Potter would call it disintermediati on , as in health insurance where we shouldn't need intermediaries (middlemen inserting themselves in the revenue stream for services not worth anywhere near what they charge).

I favor smaller, mutual benefit (to the member owners) grids anyway. I think they would be more resilient in emergencies and get us away from the old model of super-sized generation sources (no longer as good for economy of scale, no longer controlled as public utilities, and now so much more privately owned since people like Jim Brulte wrote the legislation that exposed California to Enron's gaming the system. I find it odd that they could have made so much money as simply a privatized entity that I can't understand how they could be so greedy as to bring the whole thing down. That's my old party, though, far different from the ancestors that founded it.
+16 # Barbara K 2014-02-01 17:20
Let Canada build their own refineries to handle this crap.

+9 # grandma lynn 2014-02-01 21:35
I remember when the landscape was being scraped to get to the shale in Canada. Photos from environmental groups showed density of evergreen trees with streams running through. The place was considered "nursery" for bears and other four-leggeds. Once scraped, the moonscape would not give winter protections and the drinking of water from clean streams was only a memory. So sad, so very sad.
+6 # TCinLA 2014-02-02 00:28
Actually, moron, the route to Vancouver is closed too. If KXL gets stopped, all your tar sands get stopped.

But thanks for the demonstration that Canadian conservatives can be as big a bunch of ignoramuses as their southern brethren. No wonder it's Canadians trying to kill Bristol Bay Alaska with their open pit gold mine, deforesting British Columbia, turning Alberta into the moon, and annually massacring baby harp seals. Tell us once again how you're the civilized part of North America, eh?
+1 # handmjones 2014-02-02 06:56
Actually we can and do rehabilitate our mine sites. When will you restore to nature all the hillsides in once beautiful California which you have covered with miles of ticky tacky?
+2 # jcdav 2014-02-02 22:07
Good on you...please do as you said..since transCanada will benefit why should the US risk poisoning our water supplies for Canada's benefit?
+21 # fredboy 2014-02-01 16:47
Also fails to project potential harm to our nation's fresh water. A vital issue.

If Obama OKs this, he is in their pocket. Of course, they got him to sing the praises of fracking in last year's SOU address...
+12 # patmonk 2014-02-01 16:54
Just gives the mad bomber cover to kow-tow to his buddies in BigOil and ensure they take good care of him when his term is up. What a huge disappointment he has been, does he even understand the phrase 'environmentall y friendly'; he took a really strong stand against "Monsanto" and the likes of Bill Gates who are poisoning the planet with their GMO abominations. Sure he can talk the talk, but he's a cripple when it comes to walking the walk.
Just my 2c.
Patrick Monk.RN. SF. Ca.
+12 # anntares 2014-02-01 17:22
If China were running toxic fuels through a China-large pipeline with risks of leaks and sabotage, we'd be hollering that they are speeding the ruin of our planet. If we do Keystone, China Russia/Mongolia , India, Brazil and many other countries will figure out even bigger pipelines. How many of our children and their children will live full lives?
+6 # grandma lynn 2014-02-01 21:37
You put your finger and what most deeply angers me. For short-term profit, the planet that may be unique - our home - is despoiled. My grandkids may not get to having healthy, happy grandkids themselves, but I want my beloved grandkids and their peers everywhere to have every opportunity for a full and happy life.
+8 # TCinLA 2014-02-02 00:31
It doesn't matter if it isn't unique. There's no way to get to any other one like it, should it exist. This is the only planet we have. Period.
+17 # patmonk 2014-02-01 17:23
If it had not been for the corrupt activities of Mellon, Hearst, Anslinger and the rest of that cabal over 80 years ago, we could now be living in a largely hemp based economy and not suffered the death and destruction inflicted on us in their lust for power and profits. It's probably already to late to change course and step back from the tipping point but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try. For example in Californis we are in extreme drought conditions. There is probably going to be an agricultural crisis, food will become in short supply and prices will escalate. What looked like it would be a wonderful year for restoring wild salmon runs won't happen, the streams are running dry and they can't get up river to spawn. Why are we irrigating the desert to grow crops, especially for bio-fuels, that demand a massive volume of water. Grow wet crops in wet land and dry crops in dry. For example we need to resurrect the hemp farming industry that Henry Ford championed. Why don't we use common sense sustainable solutions. Only one reason. $$$$$$$$$$$$.
Just another 2c, for what it's worth.
+7 # dquandle 2014-02-01 17:49
Who is Obama protecting? He's protecting the profits of the fossil fuel industry, the banks, and the Koch brothers as he was paid to do, and as he has done since ascending the throne. He doesn't give a flying f$%k about the future of the planet, and especially not about the trivial people living on it.
+12 # Texas Aggie 2014-02-01 18:16
The emphasis here is on the increased global warming that will occur if the tar sand oil is enabled. That is understandable given Dr. Mann's emphasis, but did the environmental impact study ever look at oil spills that are inevitably going to happen? The part of the line already built has leaks and holes. Other pipelines that carry much less corrosive petroleum products are bursting all the time with rather dire results. See Arkansas.

What happens when one of the breaks contaminates surface waters? It will be worse than WV ever thought of. What happens to the area where the spill occurs even if it doesn't contaminate water? That would be reminiscent of Fukushima where the area can't be used for decades because of health hazards.
+19 # sibbaldflats 2014-02-01 18:36
I live in Calgary, Alberta, Canada - the home of TransCanada Pipelines and the HQ of Canada's energy industry. Here, it's considered blasphemy to speak ill of Keystone XL. This, in an energy-rich province that's exploited the tarsands for nearly 50 years and whose government is virtually broke.
Any thought given global warming is to ridicule the concept; denial rules the roost, the editorial pages of newspapers and all manner of opinion-mongeri ng are one-dimensional ly dismissive. Al Gore, David Suzuki and Neil Young are held up to a mockery that insists "they're ignorant and not very nice people so therefore, human-engineere d global warming is a hoax", regardless of the scientific consensus.
It's given short, or no shrift, just as the fact Albertans have benefited so little from the exploitation of this resource. It's taboo to discuss how this non-renewable motherlode has been almost given away to the companies that produce it. Acting like the owner of the resource, which taxpayers are, is considered filthy socialism and not to be considered among polite company. All anyone knows is that the oil MUST be shipped out at firesale prices as soon as possible to the benefit of...whoever. To suggest otherwise is heresy. Myopia is the order of any and every day.
+9 # Regina 2014-02-01 21:22
WOW! I didn't realize that Canadians are as dim-witted as Americans. I guess you get FOX Noise up there, too, that font of obstinate stupidity.
+12 # TCinLA 2014-02-02 00:37
You've obviously not been paying attention to the deforestation of British Columbia over the past 50 years, or the annual baby harp seal massacres, have you? The myth that Canada must somehow be better than we because they have a national health program is just that - myth. It's Canadians behind the Pebble Mine project at Bristol Bay Alaska, and the other open pit goldmine project proposal in Costa Rica that would destroy the rain forest. The tar sands is just another of their atrocities against the planet.
+6 # sibbaldflats 2014-02-02 12:25
Not all Canadians think like this, but it's quite prevalent in Alberta and other parts of the West. A lot of it boils down to economic interest, jobs. But it too often doesn't extend beyond one's own good-paying oilpatch job to the common good. Nearly 40 years ago, the premier (Americans would call him governor) of Alberta created a trust fund to be there for a future when there was no more oil and gas. It was a good idea, but it never grew because politicians spent that money and didn't collect enough from industry. It sits unmoved at a paltry $16 billion. Norway, meanwhile, has a similar fund worth nearly a trillion $s after building it for half as long as Alberta. Alberta's in austerity mode and goes into debt to build schools. It's beyond scandalous but is considered a non-issue.
Six years ago the government tried half-heartedly to increase the taxpayers' take on resource revenue and it was crushed by the energy industry and their servile political allies. It even gave birth to the second-biggest political party which essentially stands for the people being stiffed and rolled for eternity by the energy industry. It's a sorry situation.
They call it "the Alberta advantage."
While Albertans and Canadians won't get much $ out of expanding the tar sands with help from Keystone XL, they will be stuck with a massive cleanup bill for time immemorial. Oh well - at least that laissez-faire ideology will remain intact.
+8 # kitster 2014-02-01 23:55
it's wrong for amerika, it's wrong for the planet...but the keystone pipe line is gonna get built. sadly, our lame duck president is gonna crater. even the dumbocrats are gonna pressure him to ok the deal. and if we don't do it, the oil goes to china. nobody, i mean nobody, in our bought and paid for government is gonna buck the big bucks of omnipotent oil.

the trouble is, instead of crying on each others' shoulders in the rsn comment corner we should be out on the street getting arrested in opposition to this tragedy. but we're all too comfortable to do it.

and our votes matter little any more. them that has the money really rules. and they want the pipeline.

so either stop yer crying and shut up...or get up off yer couches and in front of yer computers and show 'em who runs the country.

'cause right now, thems' with the gold get the final say and nobody's listening to any of you!!!
+9 # Pikewich 2014-02-02 03:24
As a matter of fact over 80,000 people have pledge4d to commit civil disobedience and risk arrest. I am one of them, and look forward to doing it.
0 # FDRva 2014-02-02 01:30
Why shouldn't Wall Street get what they paid for when they adopted Barry Obama in 2008?
+3 # seeuingoa 2014-02-02 04:30
and don´t forget to bring a whistle
so we can all be whistle-blowers
+4 # RnR 2014-02-02 07:01
Why should he care? He'll be mega rich just like Clinton after this.

Let's hear it for NAFTA, the TPP and this fucking pipeline.

NONE of which anybody who voted for this a-hole every supported.

Thanks Barry, thanks Kerry...happy happy all the way to the bank.
-1 # tpmco 2014-02-02 07:25
I am disappointed that RSN will not print my comment. They do not seem to support the notion that readers can support the the news. Yet they can bombard us with emails requesting donations. I'm not going along with that.
+2 # RHytonen 2014-02-02 08:11
How could there be a bigger mistake than his even ALLOWING fracking?

THAT will be the tragedy of our time- and probably of ALL time.
+3 # listentome 2014-02-02 08:37
We, the people are not only getting sold out up and down the country but across and back the country as well with tar sands pipeline increases. Explosions are the name of the game, practically ruining the Quebec town of Lac Megantic, with spills in Lake Memphremagog in Vermont, and a gigantic increase of Alberta tar sands coming through the pristine areas of Vermont, NH, Maine, likely as soon as XL is approved. Just double the barrels per day after XL for the actual amount of pipeline travel, and much of the pipeline from west to east is antiquated. The best organized place on the planet right now for fighting ALL tar sands is Portland in Maine, where they have been turning around their CoUncilors and face to face fighting Trans Canada (Exon Mobil- be clear of who owns what), and making it the city's biggest issue in years to prevent smoke stacks from ruining their Port. The first time around they lost, but came back to make progress. Stay tuned to Portland. They have what it takes. Yes our planet is at stake with two XLs pending. Oil giants are projecting double profits which go into the triple digit billions. Hopefully, divestment campaigns will continue NRDC more seriously. East West is where it is at! Go Portland!! We are behind you. Monday is stand up against keystone day in all of our cities. Hope to meet you all there.http://ww gy/files/going- in-reverse-FS.p df
-3 # Above God 2014-02-02 12:12
I Am Adressing The Collective Stupidity That The Tar Sands Oil Will Not Be Produced W/O The Keystone Pipeline. The Oil Will Be Piped Over The Rockies To Go To China. Obama,"The Step And Fetch It" For Radical Enviromentalist s Will Just Give The Oil To China. Idiot!
0 # jcdav 2014-02-02 22:19
Please be a tad more coherent...Over the CANADIAN rockies? OK, they can take the environmental risk. Obama give the oil to China? HOW? Wtf are you saying?
+1 # bdeja 2014-02-02 12:43
Our President has not shown himself to be a person of great courage and devotion to principle. He has alluded to many progressive ideas a but has fought hard for few. He seems to be a President for the corporate leaders who most often put their comfort and greed above everybody else's. These corporate execs can only see a short distance in front of themselves. They just don't begin to realize that they are making a planet that will even cause them and their families a calamity-full future along with all the people they now squeeze for all their wealth. President Obama has not shown a willingness to take on these corporate bully sociopaths.
+1 # Caballero69 2014-02-02 14:22
One thing we can do right now is make an online comment at asking that he stands firm against it and for the environment. Then, during the week we can follow up with phone calls and letters.

Then, we need to speak out; step out; stand up and insist "We do everything we can to leave our children a more stable and healthy planet."
0 # Jingze 2014-02-03 09:26
Obama will approve it. After all, he is more interested in helping corporate America than he is in protecting the environment or helping the middle class. He has made this abundantly clear. It's one of the reasons his "base" is abandoning him, and it will become the reason the republicans will trample over all opposition in the next two elections and, probably, beyond for many years. The democrats and Obama have failed.
+1 # mighead 2014-02-05 07:06
According to Friends of the Earth,
the State Dept report was written by a dues-paying member of the American Petroleum Institute who lied on its conflict of interest disclosure form.

Unbelievable... in that it that it was never that it's still accepted as a valid that the media has either not heard of the charge...or has ignored it...

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