This week has seen an hysterical effort to bury the Keystone pipeline (pun intended). Its opponents are insisting that a) the oil from tar sands is so dirty that it will push us past a tipping point and b) the pipeline itself is a threat to a major aquifer. Neither of these is the real reason for the push.
The tar sands will be turned into oil regardless of the pipeline. Some of it already is being transported and refined in the US. Canada has made it clear that they will build a pipeline to the coast and send the oil to China to refine if we will not take it. The oil itself is only 5% "dirtier" than lighter oils. Further, the US is already criss-crossed with oil pipelines. There is nothing special about this one.
So why the push? Environmentalists are trying to draw line in the (tar) sand. They do not want any new sources of oil developed regardless of other considerations. Jobs? Reduced reliance on foreign oil? These are inconsequential. On Monday the leader of the push, Bill McKibben, went on the Colbert Report and said that he is trying to get everyone into clean plug-in hybrids. This is a $39,000 car, after subsidies. A comparable gasoline-powered car would be the Chevy Cruz which starts at $16,800. So, Bill McKibben is trying to entice you into a $22,000 upgrade.
All of this is to stop global warming.
Funny thing about that - it seems to have stopped on its own. The news reports for 2011 were scary - it was the 11th hottest year on record and hotter than every year in the 20th century except 1998. Put another way, 2011 was the second coolest year of the 21st century.
In the meantime, oil continues to be vital to modern civilization. We power our cars with it. Much of modern life is based on petroleum-based plastics. It is even used to make some of our medicines. Cutting ourselves off from this without a replacement because of the possibility of global warming would be, at best, wrenching.
But the activists don't care. Their convictions are stronger than science or reason.