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Tar Wars

By       Message Rand Clifford       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   No comments

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Today (11/10/2011), the President delayed permitting of the Keystone XL
pipeline, sending the issue back to the State Department for a thorough
re-review. Many analysts say this victory for life on Earth will effectively kill the Keystone XL project.

news has become so rare that Obama's decision today is a glaring,
majestic affirmation of hope greater than at first it might seem.

call the Alberta tar sands, "oil sands". Well, not "oil", we are
talking about bitumen. Tar. And we're not talking about an "oil
pipeline", Keystone XL would be a highly-pressurized (1440 pounds per
square inch) pipeline to squeeze along fiendishly-toxic, corrosive and
abrasive "dilbit" (diluted bitumen) that has already taken almost as
much fossil energy to extract as the dilbit contains. That's an Energy
Return On Energy Invested (EROEI) from hell.

For some background on this kind of pipeline, please go here.

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Keystone XL would be an artery through America's heartland pumping
dilbit under such extreme pressure that any leak would be a powerful
geyser. Dilbit is normally 50% bitumen diluted with 50% naphtha (so it
will "flow"), .5% of the mix being "sediment" (sand and other

Many climatologists have said that if the carbon-bomb tar sands are extensively exploited it is "game over" for the biosphere.

virtually every angle, the tar sands and the Keystone XL pipeline are a
hideous danger to life on Earth. Corporate profits are about the only
beneficiary...leading to the ultimate question: Are corporate profits
more important than life on Earth?

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The biosphere won a crucial
victory today, but the war is far from over. The Tar War, a "theater
engagement" in the global war of corporate profit versus...well, pretty
much everything else. The whole affair has 1 percent versus 99 percent
written all over it--written in tar. Amazingly, today at least, our 99
percent won a battle.


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Rand Clifford lives in Spokane, Washington. His novels and earlier essays can be found at

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