The Koch Brothers own millions of acres in Alberta Canada containing “tar sands,” thick crude oil with a high carbon content. They, along with Canada’s government want to build a 1000 mile pipeline through the US to bring this heavy crude oil all the way to the gulf of Mexico.

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While processing this oil creates environmental risks, tar sands extraction is being promoted as a way to create jobs, reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil and increase America’s “energy security.”

What is left out is that:

  • The purpose of the Keystone XL pipeline is to bring tar sands oil to more lucrative global markets, not to sell it to the U.S.
  • If the pipeline is built, it will cost the U.S. $3.9 billion more for the Canadian oil we purchase annually.  Potential profits to the Kochs: 100 billion!
  • Average temperature in Alberta has already gone up by two degrees, and if the tar sands are fully developed, NASA scientist James Hansen believes it will be “game over” for the climate.

While Keystone XL promotion goes on,  climate change is announcing its presence with increasing ferocity;   Superstorm Hurricane Sandy, life threatening flooding in the Florida panhandle followed by three days of multiple tornadoes in a dozen southeastern states in April,  severe drought followed by wildfires in California and most recently, the irreversible collapsing of part of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

The implications of these events are long term and serious, but that may not deter Koch funded media groups from trying to trivialize them.

Some Connecticut residents may not realize that the climate has been changing in this region.  Data tracking shows over a 70 percent increase in very heavy precipitation in the Northeast over a 54 year period.  A National Climate Assessment predicts heat waves, coastal flooding and river flooding will continue to increase, posing hazards to “public health, agriculture, transportation, communications and energy systems.”

Should we continue to be manipulated by the oil billionaires, or should we heed the warnings of the climate scientists and get moving on developing less polluting energy sources?  The answer is obvious.

William Buhler, of Cromwell, worked at the Connecticut Juvenile Training School as a school psychologist and is co-chair of legislative action for SEIU/CSEA.

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