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Even the protesters “misunderestimate” how much is wrong with Pipeline
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Even the protesters “misunderestimate” how much is wrong with Pipeline

Even the protesters “misunderestimate” how much is wrong with Pipeline

Posted September 2, 2011 from Seattle. 

Famed  NOAA Climate scientist Jim Hanson says  that if we approve the Keystone Pipeline—The Canadian pipeline that would bisect the country from North to South and deliver Canadian crude oil from Alberta’s tar-sands to Texas– it’s “game over” for the Earth’s climate.” 

American landowners in the path of the Keystone Pipeline have already been victim of intimidation, threats, false deadlines and high-pressure tactics. With Eminent Domain in it's courts, Keystone can mistreat American landowners at will knowing that it holds the trump card in the negotiation. Photo by Ed Newbold

Fine, no understatement there.   But if you go to, say, Friends of the Earth’s website on the subject there are words you won’t see– words like unpatriotic, unconstitutional, inefficient and market-distorting.

The Keystone Pipeline is an unconstitutional, unpatriotic, and thoroughly disgusting outrage. 

Why?  Consider this:

1)      The Eminent Domain powers that would be granted to the Pipeline Company amount to a VAST GIVEAWAY to a PRIVATE COMPANY.  The givers are the American citizens who are not reimbursed for their generous gift.  American landowners whose lands will be seized will pay most dearly of course–by not being given the liberty to refuse the purchase offer and not being given a fair price for their land.  (Fair price can only be determined where there is a willing buyer and a willing seller.)

2)      The taking of private land for a private company in this case is not for a “public use,” as required by the 5th Amendment of the US Constitution (a rare case where the Constitution is very explicit).   The use is private: The Keystone Corp benefits, not the public, therefore the use is not public.  And therefore, of course,  the right-of-way is UNCONSTITUTIONAL.  The fact that Courts have routinely ruled the other way throughout US history doesn’t change this, it only shows that Courts will bend and flow and go wherever the money stream tells them to go.

3)      This pipeline right-of-way is wrong and would be regardless of whether it was a US company or a Canadian Company.  However, the fact that it is a foreign company  means that supporters of the pipeline are asking that American citizens forgo their pursuit of happiness so that we can subsidize a foreign corporation, and that is an UNPATRIOTIC position.

4)      Because the massive gift to Keystone amounts to a subsidy,the price system upon which the efficiency of our economic system will be DISTORTED.  Because of the subsidy, oil shale exploitation will seem much cheaper than it would be under true market conditions and the destruction of the Canadian North will occur muck quicker than it would in unfettered Capitalism.


American Redstarts, female above, male below. This is one of many species of songbirds that will suffer if Keystone is approved. Painting by Ed Newbold


5)      Songbirds have been declining across the North American continent for decades now.  The Canadian North Woods remains a last bastion of Songbird production and is the center of gravity for many Northern Warbler, Vireo, Thrush and other species, the birds that grace US woodlands in spring and fall.  These birds are under the same orders to multiply as humans are. They will be BETRAYED by this DISGUSTING giveaway and their fight against extinction will be unfairly undermined.

Defenders of the pipeline will point out that PAST PIPELINES have been built with Eminent Domain powers.  This argument boils down to this:  A type of theft has occurred routinely in the past, therefore it should be allowed to happen again.

They will also argue that this Pipeline will CREATE JOBS.  This is the classic error of only seeing the immediate visible effects of a project and not looking further at its indirect hidden costs.  This fallacy, so common that it dominates American economic political discourse, is eloquently  explored in Henry Hazlit’s  old but ever-relevant book, Economics in One Lesson.

But of course the most politically effective argument will be that this Pipeline will lower the PRICE OF GASOLINE, and increase our Continental supply of gas. This it no doubt will do, by at least a tiny amount, but it’s a fallacy to think that this will help us.   Contrary to popular opinion and the opinions of most reporters whether they be from FOX-news or NPR, our well-being and prosperity are not dependant on gasoline being a certain price but on the OVERALL INTEGRITY OF THE PRICE SYSTEM.  The Soviet Union famously subsidized certain key items so they would be cheaper than if under a market system, and it was so successful that during the Soviet Union’s heyday bread was so cheap that kids would use a loaf of it to kick around in pickup-soccer games.  But the people who thought that their overall well-being would be secured by the existence of one favored, subsidized commodity were sorely mistaken, as history has shown.

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