As we await the decision on whether or not TransCanada will get to complete the northern leg of our old friend, the Keystone XL pipeline, the continent-spanning death-funnel aimed at transporting the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel from the poisoned moonscape of Alberta down the spine of North America to Texas, where what already hasn’t spilled out and killed ducks and bunny rabbits — and the agricultural economy of half the country — will be put on ships and sent out to the rest of the world, we should check to see how the pipeline system is working elsewhere.
It’s not working so well.
A Northern Alberta pipeline sprung a little leak. A leak that spewed 9.5 million liters of waste water into Canadian wetlands. A spokesman for the company running the pipeline, Texas-based Apache Corp. (do you Canadians know you’ve got fucking Texas oilmen running loose in your backyard, with boldly named racist companies?), said it was just “salty water” with “trace amounts” of oil. Right. Do you believe him?
The substance is the inky black colour of oil, and the treetops are brown. Across a broad expanse of northern Alberta muskeg, the landscape is dead. It has been poisoned by a huge spill of 9.5 million litres of toxic waste from an oil and gas operation in northern Alberta, the third major leak in a region whose residents are now questioning whether enough is being done to maintain aging energy infrastructure.
“Trace amounts”. OK.
“Every plant and tree died” in the area touched by the spill, said James Ahnassay, chief of the Dene Tha First Nation, whose members run traplines in an area that has seen oil and gas development since the 1950s.
Oh. Well that sounds…innocuous.
This is where capitalism fails, among many other places. Look to the future: as gas and oil prices steadily climb, there will be more and more incentive to unscrupulous people to profit at the land’s expense, and there’s nothing to stop them. Furthermore, there will always be lots of short-sighted people who will see only dollar signs and easy comfort, who will chant “drill baby drill” and enable the looters. And then someday we get to live in the wreckage.
Somebody has to actually reckon the cost and say simply, “no.” Even if it discomfits a few Texans.