It's my personal soapbox, a place for me to express thoughts and feelings, musings and rants, reflections and recollections; to have fun with words -- about things spiritual, environmental, social, political, economic, and, from time to time, personal. And of course about peace. Soapboxes are in public places (as London's legendary Hyde Park) on purpose, and so I invite conversations with you, for it is through civil discourse that we can gain some perspective on the seeming chaos of these changing times and learn together how to shape a positive future for ourselves, our communities, and the generations to come.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Thoughts on the Keystone Tar Sands Pipeline

The president is faced with making a decision on the Keystone Tar Sands Pipeline. Whether that is to be in two months by the current president or in 2013 by whatever president, let’s work to have that decision be one of denying the permit. Our strategy can't be one of just saying no, however. That strategy didn’t work for Nancy Reagan, and it wouldn’t work here, either. More effective will be building alliances in the private sector to develop 21st Century alternative opportunities for both industry and the unions that have longer term prospects than hanging on desperately to short-term, 20th Century jobs.

The pipeline would be financed in the private sector, and these days it would be hard to get that kind of financing from the public sector. So, the question is, how can we make alliances with 21st Century industries who can marshal the resources to create comparable numbers of jobs? And maybe there are things government (state and federal) can do to smooth the way for those new industries that they aren’t  already doing – e.g., regulatory and tax policy – like accelerating putting EV charging stations everywhere, accelerating putting decentralized solar energy on rooftops (instead of blanketing the deserts with centralized mega-plants and transmission lines!).

Anyway, I don’t understand why we’re even considering a pipeline. Why doesn’t Canada build their own refineries and then try to ship us the gasoline, heating oil, and other products? Maybe they are forward-looking enough to realize that the huge investment in refineries can never break even or be amortized over the short remaining lifetime of the fossil fuel economy.

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