Keystone pipeline rejection: A turning point and a challenge

 

It’s wonderful news that the Obama administration rejected the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. It would have run through 1,179 miles carrying carbon-heavy petroleum from Canadian oil sands to Texas. It’s time that a much greater effort be undertaken to reduce our reliance on petroleum, its spewing refineries, and the need to transport it for long distances. Trains with a hundred or so cars rattle through New Jersey every day carrying highly combustible and toxic Bakken crude oil traveling an even greater distance. From the North Dakota Bakken formation to here it is about 1,700 miles of potential accidents waiting to happen and pollution being spread throughout the route.

In the past few years there has been rapidly increasing concern. We have learned more about the environmental devastation caused by the Exxon Mobil refineries. We already have a vast underground network of oil pipes in New Jersey threatening our well being. Currently the Pinelands is targeted for a pipeline and there are at least a dozen more pipelines proposed in New Jersey. This week opponents of a proposed terminal for liquefied natural gas imports off the New Jersey and New York coasts blasted the plan as a dirty, dangerous boondoggle: “If there is a storm or accident, this is a giant bomb off our coast.”

Let’s think of the rejection of the highly politicized Keystone as a turning point and use it as a challenge. During the Rachael Maddow TV conversation yesterday with three Democratic candidates for the presidency, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley said he is the only candidate in the race who put out a plan to move us to a 100% clean energy grid by 2050. It’s no easy task and it will take time, but it is an essential challenge.

In 1962 President Kennedy said, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone.”

President Obama in his speech yesterday said, “If we want to prevent the worst effects of climate change before it’s too late, the time to act is now.” The momentum is growing.

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