Viewpoint: How I See It: Keystone pipeline will unleash havoc on countryside

Jonathon S. Platt | News editor

A weekly column by Jonathon S. Platt

When the 113th congressional term opened, House Republicans said they would not put effort into moving approval for Keystone XL, a transnational pipeline that would snake from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, through Congress.

They claimed to be protecting America’s wallet, but, a year later, it’s obvious that they were merely ramping up behind stage and banking on a swing in congressional control.

Since that anticipated swing occurred in November, when Republicans gained a majority in the Senate and held their stance in the House, leaders of the GOP have made it clear that their goal is almost solely to defy the president.

So now the Keystone XL bill is back and few who follow politics are surprised to see its resurrection.

It’s interesting to note that this version comes to us in manipulative camouflage. GOP lawmakers have heralded it a bill focused on job creation, not what it is: a transnational construction agreement. The double-speak around this issue is nauseating.

Should the measure pass both House and Senate, Obama has promised to veto the bill when it reaches his desk. And since Republicans don’t have the necessary supermajority to overrule a presidential veto, the could very well be the end of this impending travesty.

On top of all this political banter, an unseen evil is rising.

Enbridge, a multibillion-dollar oil and gas company also from Canada, is working to have the second stage of its plan to expand Line 61, a pipeline that carries 400,000 barrels per day through the state of Wisconsin, approved.

Stage two would expand the pipeline to carry 1.2 million barrels per day – three times the predicted capacity of Keystone XL.

This expansion, while a part of a legitimate transnational resource transfer, only needs approval from the Dane County, Wis., zoning committee.

No congressional debate. No presidential protection. Not even expensive advertising and television news media coverage.

And, should the officials not approve this construction project, Enbridge has threatened to sue.

So much for the “fair” in our fair and free market trade agreements.

My tiny hometown’s economy revolves around oil. Over my life, I’ve watched the town cycle in and out as the oilfield waned and waxed.

My dad has watched the same happen. He even roughnecked when he was younger. And my pa moved to East Texas with his dad to follow this industry.

Because I value the health of my hometown and because it’s such an interesting part of my family’s history, I understand the necessity and magnitude of the oil and gas industry.

In addition, my parents are business owners. Their hard-earned money is what allows me to attend Baylor. I’m not arguing that the free markets are the devil’s work.

Where my beef falls is with how the government and big business are increasingly raking the American public over the coals.

If you’re in favor of this bill, I’ll ask, “What if this pipeline was running through your backyard, forcing your family out of a generational homestead or cutting into your source of income? Would you still be in support?”

I think we all – government, capitalists, conservatives, liberals, farmers and college students alike – need to remember the respect we owe our neighbor.

Pastor Martin Niemöller famously said, “Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Niemoller was a pastor in pre-World War II Germany. He heavily spoke against the Nazi party and was spent seven years in prison for this crime.

Now, I’m not directly comparing Mitch McConnell or John Boehner to Hitler or the GOP to Nazis. What I am saying is that Americans collectively must stick together – political ideologies aside – to protect each other.

I don’t think allowing a foreign corporation to tear our countryside apart even marginally does that.

At least, that’s how I see it.

Jonathon S. Platt is a junior journalism major from Kilgore. He is the news editor and a weekly columnist for the Lariat. He also authors the Lariat blog “From the Wire.”