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Keystone XL Is More Than Just A Larger Carbon Footprint

Polluters are still rejoicing after the State Department issued its final impact assessment in determining whether or not we move forward into the past with the expansion of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would “carry heavy oil from Canada’s tar sands across Nebraska and five other states to refineries in Texas,” delivering a filthy energy source to the world and rewarding already wealth-soaked oil corporations with more bounty for the booty.

But this isn’t just about promoting a cleaner environment and a world where oil corporations aren’t further enslaving its addicted customers.

It’s about national security; Justice and accountability.

Finished in 1977, the Trans Alaska Pipeline System was built to move oil from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, Alaska. Since then, the 800 mile pipeline has seen peak performance come and go. With oil sources inevitably drying up, forcing producers to blast and frack our way to dirty jobs and prosperity for a few, the pipeline still continues to operate through “improvements” that keep the flow at low enough levels to justify its artificially preserved lifespan.

But, like all brilliant plots to overthrow a clean energy revolution, building that much pipeline has come at a cost.

Some of the highlights:

The pipeline has at times been damaged due to sabotage, human error, maintenance failures, and natural disasters. By law, Alyeska is required to report significant oil spills to regulatory authorities. The Exxon Valdez oil spill is the best-known accident involving Alaska oil, but it did not involve the pipeline itself.

An explosion on July 8, 1977, Pump Station No. 8, killed one worker, injured five others, and destroyed the pump station. A US House of Representatives Committee later announced the cause was workers not following the proper procedures, causing crude oil to flow into a pump under repair at the time.

Since the startup of the Alaska pipeline on June 20, 1977, to August 15, 1977, seven incidents and accidents have caused the pipeline to be shut down periodically.

The largest oil spill involving the main pipeline took place on February 15, 1978, when an unknown individual blew a 1-inch (2.54-centimeter) hole in it at Steele Creek, just east of Fairbanks. Approximately 16,000 barrels of oil leaked out of the hole before the pipeline was shut down.

Regulators claimed “the steel pipe is resistant to gunshots and has resisted them on several occasions,”

but on October 4, 2001, a drunken gunman named Daniel Carson Lewis shot a hole into a weld near Livengood, causing the second-largest mainline oil spill in pipeline history. Approximately 6,144 barrels leaked from the pipeline; 4,238 barrels were recovered and reinjected into the pipeline. Nearly 2 acres of tundra were soiled and were removed in the cleanup. The pipeline was repaired and was restarted more than 60 hours later.

In 2001, a resident of Livengood, Alaska—a town of less than two dozen people about 50 miles north of Fairbanks—shot a hole in the pipeline with a high-powered rifle.

In 2001, a resident of Livengood, Alaska—a town of less than two dozen people about 50 miles north of Fairbanks—shot a hole in the pipeline with a high-powered rifle.

The pipeline has been shot at several times and sabotaged and it’s in the middle of nowhere.

This is the proposed route for the Keystone XL:


So, this is the bigger problem we face: When a company like BP destroys the Gulf Of Mexico, or an oil pipeline fails and ends up leaking thousands of barrels of oil into the environment through the heart of the country, how many jobs and how much freedom will it create for the workers who are inevitably killed trying cover for industry malfeasance? How many more refinery explosions and fires will come to define this project?

In a country flooded with guns and nuts, what could go wrong?

Daniel Carson Lewis knows exactly how he stacks up against the ubiquitous criminality of oil corporations.

Charged with a range of federal and state crimes, from weapons offenses to oil pollution, criminal mischief, and driving while intoxicated, Carson received a 10-year federal sentence in 2002; the following year in state court, he was sentenced to 16 years in prison.

His sentences are running concurrently.

When was the last time an oil company went to prison?