To Reject A Pipeline, Embrace High Speed Rail
Yesterday the Obama Administration announced it was rejecting a proposal by TransCanada to build a pipeline to Texas to carry oil from the Alberta tar sands. The pipeline would enable Canada to sell the oil on the global market more easily, but it would help grow the environmentally ruinous extraction operations in Alberta. The Obama Administration may have given TransCanada an out by allowing them to reroute the pipeline and reapply, but that would push the timeline for approval out beyond the November 2012 election, which suits Obama just fine.
For many reasons, the pipeline is a terrible idea. The globe and the country need to get off of oil, and strip-mining northern Alberta for it won’t help us get there. What’s needed instead is building forms of transportation that enable us to use less oil, saving not only the environment and addressing the climate crisis but also saving money and creating jobs as well.
President Obama has pointed out before that high speed rail can help reduce dependence on oil, and that this is a beneficial thing for the country. Ironically, high speed rail is picking up steam (sorry for mixing my train metaphors) in Alberta itself, as the center-right Premier Alison Redford is embracing the concept. Of course, Redford supports the oil companies and tar sands production, but she also realizes that Alberta will have to plan for a day when the tar sands are tapped out.
Many Californians were active in the fight against the Keystone XL pipeline project, and will continue to be active to ensure the project is not revived after the election. But it won’t help to simply block a pipeline. Canada will eventually find a way to get that oil to market as long as demand for oil exists. The only way to deal with the problem is to reduce oil demand.
And that’s where high speed rail comes in. To oppose the pipeline, as well as to push back on pressure to reopen the California coast to oil drilling, requires supporting high speed rail projects across America, including in California.