An Open Letter to API CEO Jack Gerard and the Oil Industry:
Dear Mr. Gerard,
We the undersigned are sending you this letter to express our profound objection to your threat to President Obama, that he needs to approve the Keystone XL pipeline or “face huge political consequences”.
As you are no doubt aware, objections to this ill-considered pipeline have come from all quarters: Republicans, ranchers, Native American and First Nations tribes, environmental groups, farmers, and just about everyone else. This is not a partisan issue.
As you are also no doubt aware, Mike Klink, a former Bechtel engineer who worked as an inspector on the existing Keystone pipeline, lost his job after expressing concerns about shoddy materials and workmanship on that pipeline (which has subsequently suffered 14 spills—12 in its first year). In his words (as reported in Climate Progress): “TransCanada says that the performance has been OK. Fourteen spills is not so bad…That is all bunk. This thing shouldn’t be leaking like a sieve in its first year — what do you think happens decades from now after moving billions of barrels of the most corrosive oil on the planet? Let’s be clear — I am an engineer; I am not telling you we shouldn’t build pipelines. We just should not build this one." He further stated that Keystone XL would be a "disaster".
To dismiss the concerns of this broad coalition of people and pretend that the handful of jobs the pipeline would temporarily create is the real issue is disingenuous and irresponsible. To pretend that our nation’s energy and national security are dependent upon an ill-conceived and badly built pipeline through America’s breadbasket and above one of our most important aquifers is something beyond disingenuous and irresponsible. The American people, happily, are not naïve enough to believe such craven rhetoric, and we understand pretty precisely the place that oil industry money has in our political process. Explicitly threatening the president, however, takes the implicit thuggery of your billions to a new low.
We know that we can have no energy or national security until we shift our spending and our innovation to clean energy projects. API and the corporations it represents would have us believe that our farmland, our water, and our biodiversity are of secondary importance to business as usual, and that new pipelines for the dirtiest oil on earth are therefore preferable to conservation and innovation. They are not. It is abundantly evident that America’s energy and national security cannot be secured while the oil industry maintains its death grip on our political process, and your threats make it clear that you are not a trustworthy partner with whom to build a new energy future. It's too bad; with your resources you could have made a real difference in the world.
You may be right, though, about there being great political consequences for the President if he disallows the pipeline; his base might really believe in him again.