Targeting pipelines

2017-11-05

in Canada, Economics, History, Politics, The environment

By the time of the 2015 World Heavy Oil Congress, midstream companies like Kinder Morgan, Enbridge and TransMountain PipeLines had grown used to the calamity that accompanied their pipeline applications. TransCanada’s Keystone XL project had ignited the battle, drawing ferocious protests from ranchers and Indigenous people in Nebraska. This in turn had attracted opposition from regional and then national and global environmental groups, which had long searched in vain for a catalyst to intensify and expand climate change activism. Keystone XL turned oil sands pipelines into an international political issue and a proxy of the first resort for the much broader debate about climate and energy policy. In the process, the pipeline — eventually any pipeline intended to move bitumen to tidewater — became the symbol of the entire fight. It was the line in the sand, the first full and direct conflict between progress in the age of fossil fuel — defined by expanding energy use and industrial megaprojects — and progress in the age of climate change, which sought to balance economic growth and industrial development with sound environmental stewardship and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Turner, Chris. The Patch: The People, Pipelines and Politics of the Oil Sands. Simon & Schuster, 2017. p. 119 (emphasis in original)

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. November 7, 2017 at 8:42 pm

“Hunting for a climate campaign they could win, American activists settled on the Keystone XL pipeline project, which had already been attracting opposition from ranchers and other landowners in its path in Nebraska. The choice was not arbitrary; Keystone XL made an attractive target. It was a single issue, a stand-alone project that could be approved or cancelled by executive authority of the president alone. It could be protested and blocked in a manner familiar to environmental groups that had built their reputations saving stands of old-growth forest from chain saws and pods of whales from harpoons. It was self-contained and tidy, readily reduced to a declarative hashtag — #NoKXL — on social media. And the oil to be carried by the pipe came from an industrial project few had heard of that was readymade for placards and billboards, a mammoth open-pit mine site that looked like someone had built Avatar‘s mining operations on the Mordor stage set from The Lord of the Rings. There was even an Indigenous population, a real-life Na’avi, ready to host visiting celebrities.”

Turner, Chris. The Patch: The People, Pipelines and Politics of the Oil Sands. Simon & Schuster, 2017. p. 213

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