Trump Revives Keystone XL Pipeline—an Environmental Disaster

January 24, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |


On January 24, Trump signed an executive memorandum asking the Keystone XL oil pipeline builder Trans Canada to submit a new application to build the pipeline and gave the State Department 60 days to review the application. With the stroke of a pen, Trump has breathed new life into an environmental horror, previously stopped by Obama in 2015. This memorandum happened at the same time Trump and his fascist team unleashed other assaults on the environment: pushing forward the Dakota Access Pipeline (see “Trump Order Gives Green Light to Dakota Access Pipeline—Tramples on Native American Rights and People’s Struggle”); and instituting a media blackout on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials while freezing any new EPA contracts or grants.

Keystone XL would bring 830,000 barrels of tar sands oil a day from Alberta into the U.S. for processing. Oil from tar sands is some of the dirtiest, most carbon polluting oil on the planet. Tar sands production itself is extremely destructive to the environment—wiping out huge regions of forest, causing pollution of lands and groundwater, and poisoning Native people living in the region. Scientific studies have demonstrated that if humanity has any hope of avoiding climate catastrophe caused by burning oil and other fossil fuels and other practices, tar sands oil projects must be stopped cold and much “traditional” fossil fuels also must be left in the ground.

Obama had stopped Keystone XL after years of mass protest and resistance by Native people, environmentalists and many others. Obama had staked a lot on expanding U.S. oil and gas production to maintain global power and profitability, and at the same time making small cuts to greenhouse gas emissions and crafting the Paris Climate Agreement. He hoped to try to brand the U.S. as leading the battle against climate change and thought Keystone XL would hurt these efforts.

The truth, however, is that under Obama, his predecessors, and the rest of the global capitalist system, the planet has already been hurtled toward a climate catastrophe. Each of the last three years has been warmer than the last. Globally, coral reefs, the source of much life in the oceans, have sustained huge damage from warming oceans. Polar ice has melted to the point that weather patterns are being transformed. Humanity is staring at a future of catastrophic sea level rise, spreading drought that could devastate whole regions and peoples, and even more powerful and deadly storms.

James Hansen, one of the world’s leading climatologists, said in a recent Rolling Stone magazine article, “We’re close to that point of no return. Whether we’ve passed it or not, I don’t know... We’ve passed it in the sense that some climate impacts are going to occur and some sea-level rise is going to occur, but we have not necessarily hit the disastrous level, which would knock down global economies and leave us with an ungovernable planet. But we are close.”

No Alternative But to Resist
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The hour for earth is very late. And now Trump, that narcissistic liar—who has called climate change a hoax—is full on to build new pipelines threatening water supplies and escalating the climate crisis, and to take all limits off expansion of fossil fuel production. The rejection of Keystone XL had contributed, along with low oil prices, to slowing the building of new tar sands projects. Trump’s move could breathe new life into them, furthering the crisis even beyond what is caused by Keystone XL alone. And this is just the beginning—only what he has done in the first four days. At a time when the future of the planet hangs in the balance, Trump and Pence’s rule, if not stopped, would mean unmitigated disaster for the earth and humanity’s place on it.

Trump’s Keystone XL and DAPL announcements must be met with immediate and mass resistance and large-scale protests in the streets. As we go to press already emergency protests are going on in Washington, DC and many other cities. Thousands are coming into the streets already. And this announcement has been met by outrage and condemnation from many environmental groups. It’s crucial that the level of this gain momentum and be raised, and that different streams of resistance—from Refuse Fascism’s efforts to protests against environmental outrages, from the Women’s March to the opposition to the appointments of the racist Sessions and the lunatic Betsy DeVos, and many others—be brought together. People must pour into and stay in the streets going forward, with the growing aim and determination to drive this illegitimate, horrific regime from power before it can fully implement its whole fascist program.


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