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Excerpt: "When you challenge Big Oil in Houston, you can bet the industry is going to punch back. So when I wrote in the Houston Chronicle earlier this month that we should say no to the Keystone XL pipeline, I wasn't surprised when the project's chief executive weighed in with a different view.... Let's set the record straight, point by point."

Robert Redford, environmental activist, punches back at big oil and knocks down the Keystone XL pipeline. (photo:
Robert Redford, environmental activist, punches back at big oil and knocks down the Keystone XL pipeline. (photo:

Punching Back at Big Oil

By Robert Redford, Reader Supported News

24 September 11


hen you challenge Big Oil in Houston, you can bet the industry is going to punch back. So when I wrote in the Houston Chronicle earlier this month that we should say no to the Keystone XL pipeline, I wasn't surprised when the project's chief executive weighed in with a different view.

The corporate rejoinder, written by Alex Pourbaix, president for energy and oil pipelines for the TransCanada Corp., purported to cite "errors" in my oped. Let's set the record straight, point by point.

First, the Keystone XL, as proposed, would run from Canada across the width of our country to Texas oil refineries and ports. It would carry diluted bitumen, a kind of crude oil, produced from the Alberta tar sands. On those points, we all agree.

I say this is a bad idea. It would put farmers, ranchers and croplands at risk across much of the Great Plains. It would feed our costly addiction to oil. And it would wed our future to the destructive production of tar sands crude.

That's where the disagreement begins. Pourbaix claimed it was "not accurate" for me to call tar sands crude "the dirtiest oil on the planet." He cited a report by the Royal Society of Canada that compared Canadian tar sands crude to oil from Libya, Venezuela or the Middle East.

The fact is, producing oil from tar sands generates 17 percent more of the carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions that are warming our planet than conventional oil in this country. It's 19 percent dirtier than Middle East Sour, 13 percent dirtier than Mexican Heavy and 16 percent dirtier than Venezuelan crudes.

Those aren't my numbers. That's what the US State Department concludes in its Final Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed Keystone XL. Anyone who wants to can read it right here.

For that matter, in the very report Pourbaix cites, the Royal Society of Canada itself warns (p 292) that the greenhouse gas emissions from tar sands production "pose a major and growing challenge to Canada's ability to meet national GHG (greenhouse gases) emission reduction targets in keeping with international GHG reduction targets."

As it turns out, tar sands crude is not only the dirtiest oil on the planet, it's so bad it's put Canada's climate change goals in jeopardy. Glad to have the chance to clear that up.

Pourbaix then took issue with my assertion that "the strip mining and drilling" involved in tapping tar sands was putting critical forest land at risk. Pourbaix wrote that "80 percent of the oil is now extracted through drilling, not strip mines."

In fact, 53 percent of all tar sands last year were produced from open mines, according to the Energy Conservation Resources Board, (p 6), the Alberta energy regulator that tracks tar sands production.

Mining and drilling, moreover, both damage the environment and put it at risk of great harm, according to the Pembina Institute, which reports on those risks here.

Next, Pourbaix assures us that "just 0.1 percent of the Canadian boreal forest has been disturbed by oil sands operations over the past 40 years."

Even if that's true, the boreal forest is one of the largest contiguous ecosystems on Earth. Destroying a small portion of that forest is still a lot of destruction. The tar sands region alone covers an area the size of Florida, and the majority of it has already been leased for tar sands production.

Pourbaix claims tar sands crude "is not corrosive or heated." I never claimed it was heated; I pointed out it can reach temperatures as high as 150 degrees F in transit. That sounds hot to me.

As to corrosion, I'll refer to one of the country's foremost experts on pipeline safety, Carl Weimer, executive director of the Pipeline Safety Trust, a non-profit dedicated to making fuels transportation as safe as possible.

At a June 16 hearing of the Energy and Power Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Weimer was asked whether US pipeline safeguards are adequate for the proposed Keystone XL and the large volumes of tar sands crude - diluted bitumen, actually - the pipeline would carry.

"There are some questions about the corrosivity and the abrasiveness and the pressure and the temperature that need to be answered," Weimer said. So far, he said, "we don't now the answers to those questions." Until we do, "we would prefer to wait until those questions are answered before that pipeline moves forward."

During the same hearing, the administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which regulates US pipelines, was asked whether our present set of integrity requirements - the guidelines for building, maintaining and operating safe pipelines - was adequate for dealing with tar sands crude.

Her reply: the requirements were not designed for tar sands crude. Period.

In other words, the nation's highest government safety official and one of our most respected private pipeline safety experts both agreed: tar sands crude poses troubling challenges to pipeline safety that we, as a nation, have yet to address. To move forward would be rolling the dice.

Pourbaix played down the significance of the 14 leaks that have plagued a smaller Keystone pipeline over the first year of its operation. Similarly, he played down the risk such a leak might pose to the Ogallala Aquifer, the most important source of groundwater in the country.

The Ogallala provides drinking water for millions of Americans and nearly a third of our nation's irrigation needs. Most of this aquifer's water is concentrated in a small part of Nebraska called the Sand Hills. The proposed Keystone XL would slice right through that area.

What would a pipeline accident there mean? It could spill as much as 7.9 million gallons of toxic crude oil into the aquifer, contaminating up to 4.9 billion gallons of water in a plume 15 miles long, according to a report released this summer by University of Nebraska professor and environmental engineer John Stansbury.

No oil pipelines currently cross this sensitive region. TransCanada is the first to try because it's the shortest, cheapest route. It's a route the country can't afford to take, one reason why Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman is opposed to the pipeline.

Pourbaix asserts we should all relax, citing the preliminary green light the project's been given by the State Department's environmental review, which Pourbaix calls "one of the most exhaustive ever."

Here again, though, the Environmental Protection Agency has found the State Department's assessment to be flawed at every turn. It's hard to take comfort in that.

Pourbaix falls back on the last refuge of corporate polluters everywhere: the pipeline, he writes, means jobs, 20,000 of them.

That number, though, is inflated more than three-fold, the State Department calculates. And the Cornell Global Labor Institute issued a report concluding that the project might kill more jobs than it creates. Even the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada is opposed.

So much for blind faith and allegiance to industry assumptions.

Finally, Pourbaix reduces his argument to what is, essentially, a threat.

"Americans can either get their oil from a stable, secure and friendly trading partner in Canada," he writes, "or continue to import conflict oil from repressive nations such as Venezuela or the Middle East."

Here's a better idea. Let's build the next generation of energy efficient cars, homes and workplaces. Let's develop wind, solar and other cleaner, safer, more sustainable sources of power and fuel. Let's invest in high-speed rail and smart communities that give us better transportation options.

Let's do these things so we won't need to keep going to the ends of the Earth, ravaging our forests, putting our oceans and workers at risk and creating havoc worldwide to sustain an oil addiction that is sapping our economy and bleeding us dry.

That way, the next time someone from Big Oil comes around asking us to buy into their usual mix of distortions and deception, we'll at least have the option of making up our own minds. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

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.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

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

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+130 # barkingcarpet 2011-09-24 10:31
YES! lets build energy efficient transportation and products! YES, lets make products which are made to last and can be repaired.

And YES, lets demand a change in policy to create these things, and end the short sighted and destructive paradigm of individual profit and empire at the expense of a livable sane future.

$ profits pale in comparison to healthy community and intact or well managed environments which will sustain life into the future.

We need policy based on and within the laws of nature, and not on whack job corporate profiteers who are just out for a buck, at the expense of a livable future.

The choice is ours. Tar Sands are just another drink for a raging alcoholic bully, when there are plenty of healthier alternatives. We need to end Fracking as well....
-48 # mikenovember 2011-09-24 11:29

"whack" should be "wack" ("whack" is underworld for kill.)

"Wack" is short for "wacky" (as in crazy, etc.)
+39 # Texas Aggie 2011-09-24 13:45
Barkingcarpet was right the first time. As you note, "whack" is underworld for to kill and a whack job is bumping someone off. That describes the whole mentality of the corporate profiteers, don't you think?
+105 # zepcat 2011-09-24 11:28
Hooray for Robert Redford, a great man and celebrity who is willing to put it on the line regardless of personal cost. He is a hero to those of us, who still value our ecosystem and especially or water and air. This pipeline is nothing more than a ploy by big oil to keep our dependence on oil at the highest level regardless of the cost to ecosystem and our water supply. What doesn't the politicians in Congress understand about we perish without fresh water. Fresh water is already at a premium and as the world population grows without limits and water become more scarce as we run out.Those who buy into the motto "Drill Baby Drill" mentality that seems to have taken over the conservative politics need to reevaluate their priorities lest we all perish from this short term nonsense. We all need to pull together and demand Congress protect the environment so that there will always be fresh water and breathable air and an environment fit to conserve life in all forms.
+55 # barkingcarpet 2011-09-24 11:41
I'll stick with/to "whack," Mike, which also includes wacko and insane. We are "whacking," killing, and changing the environments to such a degree, that they will not support life as they have, for many long years. Good, or bad, is a human judgement call, and certainly bad for most habitats and life which is or has been here, and good for whatever follows....
We ARE "whacking" nature, and messing up the intact systems at an alarming pace, and, life is an experiment, and work in progress, eh?
We could do so much better, and be better stewards. It is our own holes we are digging, and it is a shame, really, that we are dragging a lot of others with us.
+52 # Adoregon 2011-09-24 11:58
Bra-fracking-vo , Robert. Whether it is fracking for gas or pushing crude glop from Canada to the Gulf, the oil and gas corporations do what they do best... they lie. They lie about the benefits and who will benefit; they lie about the risks.

Think BP in the Gulf of Mexico and Exxon in Valdez, Alaska. The shills for the "energy corps" will say and do anything , and bribe anyone to get their way.

Their interests are not our interests.

Look well, O' wolves.
What do the interests of oil corporations have to do with the interests of a free people?
+39 # Lulie 2011-09-24 12:04
If there was a possibility of a spill happening and ruining the vital aquifer, it would eventually happen. Count on it.
+30 # Texas Aggie 2011-09-24 13:49
How many times has BP's pipeline in Alaska had significant leaks, and it is a lot less hazardous and easier to maintain than this abomination that the oil corps are pushing? There is no way that Big Oil's pipeline across America isn't going to create problems.
-30 # earthmama 2011-09-24 12:07
Robert Redford did a great job of poking holes in Pourbaix's claims, one by one.
Wind power is not the answer. Currently, it's neither clean nor green.
• Wind turbines, on average, produce only 20% of their nameplate rating.
• Wind power is unreliable and mostly produced at times it's not needed.
• Wind power takes a lot of dirty energy to make the materials, (
• Manufacturing and installing a wind turbine facility is also very costly to the environment.
• Wind turbines are noisy, kill bats and birds, interfere with radars, and there is now much research into the health problems they cause.
• There's no reduction in CO2 emission because backup fossil power plants have to cycle wildly and inefficiently trying to keep up with erratic wind power output.
• Germany estimates that by 2020 up to 96% of its wind power capacity will need to be backed up by new coal fired power plants.
•If wind power replaced 20% of US electric generation, the resulting decrease in oil imports would be a measly 0.292%.
•  The manufacture, installation and operation of wind power facilities will consume more than 3 times the energy they will ever produce.
+21 # John Talbutt 2011-09-24 13:57
Couldn't access the above link. But China does import iron ore from the U.S. midwest to make wind turbines from steel which often get imported back here after manufacture. Greatest fuel consumption is such manufacture is in transportation.

If we manufactured here it would be cheaper and consume less fuel.
+17 # Inland Jim 2011-09-24 14:16
You must be a repiglican; you don't provide any evidence for your statements.
+23 # Capn Canard 2011-09-24 17:52
earthmama what you miss is the obvious: small communities could produce their own energy with wind, solar, alcohol from fruit/sugar beets/cane sugar/sorghum, bio-diesel from veggie oil, geothermal, and GREATEST of them all: CONSERVATION, we use too much energy and WE NEED TO TREMENDOUSLY REDUCE OUR CONSUMPTION. Our vehicles are unreasonably large. Our houses are far too big! For crissakes, look in the mirror: WE ARE CORPULENT DISGUSTING PIGS who have spent far too much time in front of the trough. Quit eating so much, and it is far easier than you would think. No TV or internet when the sun goes down or when the weather is calm, etc, etc. Your little post is nonsense, it doesn't take into account that this is a change of mind, a change in behavior, a paradigm shift that is achievable without excuses. I am doing it now.
+17 # PGreen 2011-09-24 20:57
earthmama, your argument sounds familiar, a bit like the Cato Institute, which has made repeated, statements against the use of alternative energy. It is a bit suspicious that you don't site any sources for your statements, which causes me to wonder if they might originate there. Cato is a "free market" research organization or libertarian "thinktank," with the usual funding by wealthy contributors and corporate America. Their motivation in this criticism may be to protect the centralized energy industry, big oil, etc. (Reportedly 40% of Cato funding comes from big oil.) Wind power is a frequent target, as it is often considered the strongest of the alternatives. Out of curiosity, what is your opinion on the development of solar power?
+34 # shortonfaith 2011-09-24 12:16
Thanks again Mr Robert Redford. It's extremely important to keep things like this in the news continually.

They lie & will always lie. No sane person would ever agree to something like this, unless it was presented through a lie. No sane person would have started burning fossil fuels in the first place. The inventors of the diesel engine used peanut oil as a combustible material. Hemp can be used for this & a thousand other clean products. Clean technology is everywhere, all around us.

The real lie is how dirty these oil people have become internally, within themselves. Their lies about oil seep into every aspect of them as a person. Pretty soon they're polluting oceans & killing entire Eco systems, while spinning "our" $billions. Yes,our $billions, they use against us every day. We supply the money and they cover the entire earth with an oily film. We supply $ to the Saudis, who promote terrorist to bomb us. Many of us fall victim to these lies every day because we are lazy. We allow them to contaminate everything we touch.

Thank you all who continue fighting the good fight. Don't allow these pitiful excuses to continue their lies. Call them out at every corner & direct your energies to a cleaner better planet. Sooner or later a clean politician will come along & help us fight to save what's left. Before we cover everything.
+23 # KittatinyHawk 2011-09-24 12:29
I do hope Redford continues. Voices are needed to make people aware other wise all we have is dead air time.
Fracking is such an abusive practice. Pa refuses (because GOP & Dems love their money. Corbett was bad Atty general so I do not understand where anyone would think he would be good Gov. Got lots of bad choices again in Pa)

My comment from the beginning was, if the tar sands is such a good investment, good profit, than Why is Canada not already in the Ball Game?

There are so many things on the screen right now, it is why the air/water acti is being disemboweled for Thugs. Between giving our prstine National Parks to Cattle now Uranium (hipe the cattle like it..wolves are already on their way to extinction. then you have Artci Drilling again in Central Region, now this, Fracking all being proposed for this next year 2012. If the Rethugs cannot have America they will Kill it. I have invited them and their families to join me in drinking the water at drilling sites esp fracking. I am sure they will not, haven't shown up yet at the sewage plants,
Get Involved Confucius said something reminds me what I hope to send to rethugs. 'If you plan to embark on a journey of revenge...dig two graves.'
+19 # noitall 2011-09-24 12:33
It's just too bad that the so-called 'liberal' media isn't liberal enough and progressive enough to make this report from their bully pulpit. I appreciate RSN and support it when I can, I hope you all are doing the same! At least, throw them the cost of a latte every day. It is insane that this country's so-called leadership (the corporate voice) are biting at the bit to move forward with this. Hopefully those who are in power and are against it are using THEIR bully pulpit to speak out and rally their constituents. Coming out later after the pipe breaks and everyone is without water and declaring that they voted against it, just comes up soft. NOW is time for EVERYONE with concern for the future to shoot their mouths off loudly and in the right direction. GET OUT IN THE STREETS. Make a party of it, a PEACE party for our grandchildren.
+22 # paxuniversalis 2011-09-24 12:37
Perhaps fundamentally more important and of interest, it is projected that the dirty crude which is to be transshipped from tarsandsland across USA via major pipeline is NOT going to be utilized in US markets, but either directly shipped to, or processed in Texas refineries and transported via tanker to foreign markets.

The net increase in available fuel source = 0%.

Some increase in jobs during building phase if US contractors used, then serious problems with maintenance of corroded/leakin g pipes within years, and potential for aquifer detriment.

Not a reasonable bargain by any means.
+10 # Texas Aggie 2011-09-24 13:53
I was going to ask the same question. Why does anyone think that an international company is going to sell the oil or refined products to the US at a discount when they can get top dollar from China? Corp America has already shipped the jobs away. Why should this be any different?
+7 # maveet 2011-09-24 18:00
All using, as Elizabeth Warren points out, public resources for shipping and protecting their corporate product.
+6 # Vardette 2011-09-24 13:03
This is the same old story that has landed our Earth in the midst of serious climate change, dying oceans, the gulf disaster, severe chemical contamination and much more. Until regulations are implemented and the reps we elect are not political whores who would sell their shildren for a buck corporations will continue to destroy our environment. I saw a documentary on the Discovery channel. Dod you know that 1 gallon of oil can contaminate a million gallons of water and the amount of contaminated run off in our nation is = to 99 days of water going over Niagra Falls? It's really mind blowing. And then your add all the pesticides, jet fuel, the crap we put down our toilet and lawns. No wonder we are having a mass extinction. The XL pipe line will no doubt add to the long list of envronmental abuses that unregulated corporate practices are pertetrating on us. I have called my rep and told him I will not vote for him again if he supports the XL pipeline. If thousands do this it will have an effect. The Tea Party has shown us what a few changes can do. Now we must do the same only this time to protect the people not hurt them.
+20 # Peace Anonymous 2011-09-24 13:58
I have been to the Tar Sands on several occasions over the course of the last 3 decades. My first visit was in the 70's during construction and the forest in that part of the world was beautiful. When I returned in 2002 I couldn't believe it was the same place. Thousands of acres of forest were gone. Based solely on what I saw I began telling people that at some point the tar sands would be known as the greatest environmental disaster to hit North America. I didn't need to read a report. It was that obvious.
The Athabasca River which supplies water to many of the plants that now inhabit the area I believe is at great risk and then of course everything downstream from that which is a massive area of Northern Alberta and Saskatchewan. It is a beautiful part of the world and I suggest you go see it while you still can.
I remember Redford's statements prior to the Iraq invasion and I have always appreciated the thoughtful approach he takes to the corporate greed that motivates the wreckless decisions made by those in high places. We need to hear from him, and others like him, more often. There are few who command the spotlight as they do and we need to make sure they know their efforts are appreciated. Thanks Bob.
+16 # hervey 2011-09-24 14:05
Just excellent. Thank you Mr. Redford for pointing out so cleany and succinctly the distortions in Mr. Pourbaix's response. Letting companies and people like him get away with the continual lying without calling them out is one of the great issues we deal with in our world today. It's wonderful to have a voice like yours out there.
-3 # handmjones 2011-09-24 14:33
paxuniversalis - The tar sands crude presently shipped to northern U.S. refineries gets a lower price than the benchmark WTC price which it will receive XL is permitted. It would displace other heavy crudes such as Venezuelan presently used in Texas. Yes some might be shipped off-shore.

If you are concerned about carbon to the atmosphere you might look at the corn to ethanol projects in your own backyard. Based on generally accepted estimates of energy inputs to energy in the final fuel, corn to ethanol projects emit almost twice as much carbon per unit of energy in the final product as do oil sands projects.
+6 # Capn Canard 2011-09-25 12:16
Your argument is the standard bait and switch financied by OIL CORPORATION FUNDED THINK TANKS. Ethanol is a net loser because much of the Ethanol is made from CORN which is a poor source of sugars to make alcohol. If these jackasses used sorghum, sugar cane, sugar beets or just fruit orchards then they would have far better alcohol production per acre with far less use of petroleum to do it. BTW diesel is not necessary to produce alcohol when bio-diesel(or alcohol powered tractors) could be used instead, so your calculations purposefully ignore clean alternatives at every opportunity. A difference in the range of 200 gallons per acre for corn and nearly 1000 gallons per acre for plants with higher sugar production, like sugar beets. Now your figures would certainly account for all the diesel used to make the corn in the first place, but fails to mention the higher output crops that would use far less fuel per acre. It is win-win with sugar beets, sugar cane, fruits, sorghum et al. The current model of energy production via tar sands has multiple hidden costs that accrue over time. So it is fine for a decade or two and the chickens come home to roost, and you are left with useless land. It is not a good idea anyway you slice it.
+13 # heraldmage 2011-09-24 15:12
"Americans can either get their oil from a stable, secure and friendly trading partner in Canada," he writes, "or continue to import conflict oil from repressive nations such as Venezuela or the Middle East."
We need to stop this scare tactic. These countries are not our enemies they just prefer to control their own natural resources and many of them share the profits with the people which is at odds with USA policy.
Corporate USA is against anything they can't completely control & own, They have done everything they can to derail development of alternate non-fossil fuel energy systems.
We need to develop a means to fund individual homeowners purchase of solar & vertically oriented wind power system that can not only supply their energy needs but add to the national grid. Funding through public utilities where home owners continue to pay their average electric bill until they pay for the system supplying household power needs, plus 1 additional solar panel & vertically oriented wind turbine that belongs to utility company as interest for funding the system. This keeps the utility companies in business & reduces cost to individual home owner by staying on the grid.
Community support, development & local manufacturing of alternate energy systems is the only way to defeat corporate interference in national transition to alternate energy sources.
+6 # iris 2011-09-24 15:15
why dont the canadians refine it there?
+7 # shagar 2011-09-25 07:17
what self respecting banana republic would refine a raw resource on home turf? if we did then we would have the right to sell it at premium rates to america, no? No. That's not how free trade works. The way it works is, we pollute our country's back yard, to strip the resource out and send it to America raw. We get the pollution, america gets the profits. Twas always thus. Just ask any real banana republic. The possible spillage in america can't begin to compare to the sheer massive scale of environmental degradation taking place in Alberta. Watch the documentary "petropolis" . Hopefully Robert Redford will look beyond america's borders to realize the problem is not only yours, but ours, the world's too.
+12 # fralelady 2011-09-24 15:40
If anyone would like to know about the dargers of pipelines talk to the folks in Kalamazzo and Battle Creek Michigan. We have been dealing with the largest pipe beakdown in the country for the past year that seriously polluted rivers and ponds. One of the rivers also had the potential of reaching Lake Michigan with the oil. It is also ackknowledged that the Kalamazzo River may never be completly free of oil.
It should be a wakeup call for the country.Mr Redfor is correct, Pipe lines are a bad choice for our dependence on oil. Environmental safe alternative are the intelligent response. That, intelligence, appears to be asking a great deal from Wasnington these days.
0 # earthmama 2011-09-24 15:49
Here's the link, again, to the site you couldn't access. It's about the problem caused to the environment from mining the rare earth elements needed for the batteries for wind turbines.
+5 # John Talbutt 2011-09-24 19:26
Thanks. The flaw in the reporting is clear. The pollution shown as the result of mining rare earths is not accurately linked to wind turbines simply because turbines have generators and generators use magnets. Electric production based upon nuclear, coal or oil energy employes generators and all generators use magnets. Hence we are back to the inescapable fact that wind is cleaner than coal or oil.
+11 # balancingact 2011-09-24 16:06
Absolutely, Mr. Redford is spot on. Do we now stand in defiance of business as usual from both the oil companies and our politicians who are sustaining fossil fuel production and use as the dominant mode? Simply enough is enough!
Whether it is the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and increasing salience of climate change OR air pollution, devastation of the natural environment, and the weakening of the nation's security, those profiting greatly from a fossil fuel based economy have shown time and again they have no intention, whatsoever, of putting their own jobs at jeopardy- regardless of the consequences!
It is unambiguous: many of the folks now thinking up how they can continue their fossil fuel derived profits unabated need to be respectively dismissed from their jobs so that they may begin to find other lines of work. Period! And why can't those getting dividend checks from petroleum consumption begin to invest in other ways?

Yes, fossil fuels were fundamental to the industrial revolution which transformed our society into many of its valued modern forms.
Yet, today, if most of our politicians are incapable of moving away from fossil fuels, we need to elect representatives that will-and fast!

TransCanada Corp. evidently think they have a right to their Keystone XL if government gives them that right. But WE are the government!
+3 # Paul Scott 2011-09-24 17:53
Thinks to Robert we have had a source of information over the years that has been backed by facts. Most are not interested in truth because it requires research to make sure your not peddling BS yourself. I know I do a lot of research on many issues myself. The lyin has gotten so bad that I try to find no less than 3 different sources of information verifying each other before I make my mind up on an issue and more inportantly before I will say it to someone else. otherwise it always gets an I haven't checked this out. Thinks for all the time and effort Bob I trust you're info.
-4 # Sallyport 2011-09-24 20:04
Earthmama is right. Wind is another scam, by & large. There may be places where it could live up to its ratings, but most of the continental US is unsuitable. The costs of production & installation of windturbines, the acreage needed for access roads, &c., for their maintenance would probably never be paid back in their productive lifetime. The Bush administration had a program of start-up help that brought a lot of adventurers into the field mainly to cash in on the help. Individual windmills to supply power to one or two households with lots of battery storage for dtill times, can make sense, but great windfarms where any power generated must be shipped long distances or fed intermittently into the grid are uneconomical.
+5 # Capn Canard 2011-09-25 12:28
Sally Sally Sally... Wind is a simple to use energy producing source especially for individuals and small communities. Our current paradigm seems to want to make things huge and corporate, presumably to increase profit margins. But if every house had a small wind generator then I believe this would be phenomenally successful method. But having individuals produce their own energy threatens the profits of industry and I believe that they would do all that they could to outlaw individuals from producing their own energy. Just a thought..
0 # PGreen 2011-09-28 06:57
IF you are part of Sallyport the company," contingency operations support services," I suggest that you invest in wind farms rather than tell people how bad it is compared to your other contingency plans. Wind farms are widely used in Europe; if the initial cost is higher, it may be that the profit must be lower, but other countries don't seem to mind. Even a centralized wind farm is a more ecological alternative to fossil fuels, and I include current large nuclear in this group (small scale, 70', 25 million dollar nuclear plants, reportedly powering only 25,000-45,000 houses may be worth exploring, though I'm not completely convinced). But a comprehensive sustainable energy policy will likely utilize, many sources, including wind, geothermal, solar and tidal. I see no reason to call even large wind farms a scam when measured against the fossil fuels.
+6 # TJclyde 2011-09-24 20:34
What a wonderful thing to read some thoughtful and scientific info from a long time supporter of a clean/healthy environment. I live in Wyonming a state that has gobs of oil, gas, coal, uranium and a large portion of the people dont believe that climate change is a result of our addiction to power, huge gas guzzlers..plain old greed. We have a beautiful state and I sure as hell want it to remain and not be junked up for $$$$$.
+4 # Brucedog 2011-09-24 22:24
Not to mention the possibility of terrorism as a pipeline that long could be vulnerable.
+2 # thinkahol 2011-09-25 04:10
Dan Nocera has only solved the energy problem if we can get the status quo out of the way. See his talk on personalized energy.
+1 # Capn Canard 2011-09-25 13:29
thinkahol, excellent, energy independence! Dan Nocera's ideas are right on but I shutter to think what might happen if he ever to have some success with small units in private homes. I can't see the FOssil Fuels industry coming back with a strong push back. If Dan Nocera's PV electrolyzing water works, then it is a HUGE WOW.
+3 # Nadja 2011-09-25 08:24
The new way of getting energy is a global issue. I think it should be dealt with locally. By choosing what to buy, what to eat what and how to speak even. We can always choose, we can always decide what is appropriate to a specific situation - and then do it.
I for myself try to make as little waste as possible. I know hat whatever I have too much another one lacks. And I have a great deal of respect for the people like Mr. Redford. They constitute a new race of people definable not by colour but by an inner moral strenght and an unmistakable compass to a good future.
+2 # Capn Canard 2011-09-25 13:32
Nadja watch the video on Dan Necera, prof at MIT. Excellent. Hard to say if he will be heard and utilized... I am sure that big OIL will do all that it can to sabotage this great technique.
+3 # williamofthetrees 2011-09-25 10:31
Perhaps not a new "race" but a more human consciousness. Thank you all for your comments and Mr.Redford for using the power behind your persona to participate in what has been traditionally separated: the arts and politics and artists playing the game ofthe politicians as long as they can keep their "role" inthe status quo.

We are part and parcel of what is happening and if each doesn't dare to stand up for what is best for the Earth as much as the human beings on it, we support the rampant abuse. Democracy is the ability of each individual to stand up for "lawfulness" and it is the law what is being raped over and over again, changed and adapted for the interests of a few.

Art and artists, as a primarily "emotional" sphere that has separated from science, politics religion and the economy, help support the status quo as long as they play silence and indifference before the conflicts. They are as manipulated as everybody else.

Thank you for unifying with your "being" aspects of the world that the status quo would rather keep separated so that in its squizophrenia "we the people" are mutilated of the harmony of all aspects of life as human beings, a mechanism well known by the status quo that tends to reinforce the sense of impotence in the masses of un-diferentiate d and submissive people.
+3 # williamofthetrees 2011-09-25 10:35
"LIFE" flows freely when we are able to communicate thus. Everything must be done to protect freedom of speech and transparency. As long as we can "communicate", our selves flow freely within each other enriching our sense of being one with the world and actualizing our humaneness.

Thank you all for participating in what should become real "dialogues" not just "comments to authors" that keep the same hierarchic structures that limit freedom of speech.
0 # John Steinsvold 2011-09-25 20:56
An Alternative to Capitalism (if the people knew about it, they would demand it)

Several decades ago, Margaret Thatcher claimed: "There is no alternative". She was referring to capitalism. Today, this negative attitude still persists.

I would like to offer an alternative to capitalism for the American people to consider. Please click on the following link. It will take you to an essay titled: "Home of the Brave?" which was published by the Athenaeum Library of Philosophy:

John Steinsvold

Perhaps in time the so-called dark ages will be thought of as including our own.
--Georg C. Lichtenberg
0 # 2011-09-27 14:22
Thank you Mr. Redford. Your point was concise, to the point and right on target. I especially enjoyed your links to support the case. I stand with you.

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