After informing us of her environmentalist cred — she drives a hybrid car and has solar panels on her home! — Marcia McNutt, editor-in-chief of Science magazine, makes a remarkable statement.
I believe it is time to move forward on the Keystone XL pipeline to transport crude oil from the tar sands deposits of Alberta, Canada, and from the Williston Basin in Montana and North Dakota to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.
She’d better have a really good argument for why an environmentalist ought to support the Keystone XL pipeline, given that it is a great big leaky pipe full of death that will feed America’s oil addiction. Really good. Blow my socks off with an ultra-potent, evidence-based argument, please. And here it is.
Even after accepting that Keystone XL would not accelerate extraction of the Canadian oil sands, I still opposed the project because the pipeline would cross environmentally sensitive regions, such as the Sandhills of Nebraska, a natural wetland that supports many species, including migratory birds, and the Ogallala Aquifer, one of the world’s largest groundwater resources. The project’s developers, the TransCanada Corporation, modified the pipeline to avoid sensitive areas and have promised comprehensive monitoring and state-of-the-art shutoff valves to reduce risk to the environment. No method for moving hydrocarbons can be considered completely fail-safe. At least the current permitting process can, and should, be used to ensure that Keystone XL sets new standards for environmental safety.
That’s it? The Canadians are going to continue to turn Alberta into a toxic craphole even if we don’t build the pipeline, they made a slight detour to avoid the most sensitive parts of our environment (but it’s still a great big dribbly fragile source of poison bisecting the US from Canada to Louisiana), and…
Fuck me, Transcanada promised to be really, really careful.
Then she makes the tepid suggestion that we ought to let them build their colossal douchehose of noxious blight, and ask them nicely to contribute some small fraction of their pollution profits towards research in alternative energy.
Seriously? That’s it? That was so pathetic and unconvincing, it couldn’t possibly persuade anyone. But somehow, that’s enough to get the editor-in-chief of one of the most prominent science journals in the world to change her mind.
This does not add up.
McNutt M (2014) Keystone XL. Science 343(6173):815.