Peter Dykstra: Pipeline Politics

Peter Dykstra: Pipeline Politics

Pipelines have become a regular item in the news cycle in recent years.


Last week, the Canadian Government backed away from future investment in the Trans Mountain 2 pipeline, potentially dooming Canada’s dreams of riding tar sands oil to petrostate status. Multiple lawsuits and relentless protests by First Nations tribes are credited with stalling the project, which would bring tar sands oil to export throughout the Pacific Rim.

In May 2021, hackers took down the Colonial Pipeline system, the aortic source of gasoline for much of the U.S. east coast.

Much of America went into a familiar petro-anxiety attack until the hack—a ransom effort against Colonial—was reportedly paid off.

Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Atlantic Coast Pipeline protest

cool revolution/flickr

In 2020, a boatload of activists and their attorneys killed the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a 600-mile conduit to bring natural gas from Appalachia to Virginia and the Carolinas. It would traverse a National Park, the Appalachian Trail, waterways and wetlands, glancing by poor and minority communities on the way. Its owners, Dominion Energy and Duke Energy, have since announced accelerated plans to move to cleaner energy.

The Dilbit Disaster

In 2010, an obscure petro-goo called dilbit – diluted bitumen – poured into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River.

Enter an obscure news site that had just ditched its clanky name, Solve Climate News.

The made-over Inside Climate News was a dynamo, giving the Michigan spill its own name—“The Dilbit Disaster"—and tagline—"the biggest oil spill you’ve never heard of.”

Inside Climate reported on the shabby safety record of Enbridge, the pipeline operator, and on another spill in Arkansas on an ExxonMobil line. The news site won a 2013 Pulitzer Prize, lifting the profiles of both pipelines and nonprofit journalism.

Dakota Access Pipeline

Dakota Access Pipeline protest

Peg Hunter/flickr

The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) was proposed in late 2014 to deliver oil from North Dakota’s fracked jackpot, the Bakken Shale, to refineries in the South.

Its initial proposed route took DAPL skirting north of Bismarck, North Dakota’s capitol city. After revisions, DAPL skirted just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, potentially threatening the Missouri River drinking water source for the tribe and its neighboring Cheyenne River Sioux tribe.

By spring 2016, they and thousands of supporters had established a camp near the construction site. Protests against the pipeline draw the North Dakota National Guard. armed with tear gas and rubber bullets.

Oil began flowing when President Trump signed an Executive Order clearing the way, and after back-and-forth legal battles and a brutal winter, the National Guard cleared the camp two months later.

Keystone XL

Keystone XL protest

tarsandsaction/flickr

In 2008, owners TransCanada and Conoco applied for permits to expand its Alberta-to-Texas Keystone pipeline. They were expecting a huge jump in output from Alberta’s tarsands oilfields.

Writer-activist Bill McKibben and others launched what appeared to be a longshot campaign to stop KXL. Farmers and other landowners along the route joined in.

Opposition grew on both sides of the border.

In November 2015, President Obama signed an Executive Order halting construction on KXL. President Trump reversed the order shortly after taking office in 2017.

President Biden cancelled KXL on his first day on office.

Nord Stream 2

Of course, a pipeline is also central to the world’s biggest current geopolitical crisis. Oil and gas exports are major factors in the Russian economy.

Perhaps the most hurtful of the economic reprisals the West has deployed is Germany’s shutdown of the new Nord Stream 2— a completed project that awaits final German signoff before gas flows to Western Europe and cash flows to Vladimir Putin’s carbon kingdom.

Western Europe, and particularly Germany, deserve credit for being willing to take a hit in losing a major source of cheap energy.

But losing their need for fossil fuels would help starve two tyrants: Putin and climate change.

Peter Dykstra is our weekend editor and columnist and can be reached at pdykstra@ehn.org or @pdykstra.

His views do not necessarily represent those of Environmental Health News, The Daily Climate, or publisher Environmental Health Sciences.

Banner photo of the Dakota Access Pipeline protest in Minneapolis, Minn., in 2017 by Fibonacci Blue/flickr

How Native tribes, hell-raisers and lawyers have combined to battle pipeline projects

Marco Rubio, Rick Scott urge Senate leaders for money to rebuild state.  Then don't vote for it.
www.tallahassee.com

Marco Rubio, Rick Scott urge Senate leaders for money to rebuild state.  Then don't vote for it.

Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Rick Scott sent a letter to Senate Appropriations Committee chairs to get more funds to recover and rebuild Florida after Ian.
Sunrise in the woods

Get our Good News newsletter

Get the best positive, solutions-oriented stories we've seen on the intersection of our health and environment, FREE every Tuesday in your inbox. Subscribe here today. Keep the change tomorrow.

California’s water emergency: satisfying the thirst of almonds while the wells of the people that harvest them run dry
www.forbes.com

California’s water emergency: satisfying the thirst of almonds while the wells of the people that harvest them run dry

Broiling heat in the middle of the worst drought in 1,200 years has strained the state’s underground water supply, pitting the Central Valley’s $20 billion agriculture industry against many of its own workers.
Ian will 'financially ruin' homeowners and insurers
www.politico.com

Ian will 'financially ruin' homeowners and insurers

The storm inundated the homes of thousands of Floridians who don't have flood insurance, exposing weaknesses in the nation's effort to address the rising costs of extreme weather.
Hurricane Ian climate change damage
Credit: Florida Fish and Wildlife/flickr

Peter Dykstra: With Ian, treat climate like an 'active shooter'

You’ll never guess which U.S. metro area led the nation in the biggest increase in average home sale price from last year to this year.

Keep reading...Show less
Chevron Ad (Satire alert!)
www.youtube.com

Chevron Ad (Satire alert!)

Nothing is more precious than life.CREDITS: Writer Adam McKayVoice Steven San MiguelEditor Bruce HerrmanProducer Staci Roberts-SteeleSpecial Thanks Lost Plan...
These ‘nuclear bros’ say they know how to solve climate change

These ‘nuclear bros’ say they know how to solve climate change

The surge in atom activism comes as countries again reassess their attitudes toward the power source, in the face of climate change and war.
Amtrak service halted between Irvine and San Diego for emergency track repairs due to coastal erosion
timesofsandiego.com

Amtrak service halted between Irvine and San Diego for emergency track repairs due to coastal erosion

Amtrak service from Irvine south to San Diego has been suspended until further notice for emergency track repairs near the ocean in San Clemente.
From our Newsroom
Chemical recycling grows  along with concerns of its impacts

Chemical recycling grows — along with concerns about its environmental impacts

Industry says chemical recycling could solve the plastic waste crisis, but environmental advocates and some lawmakers are skeptical.

Failure of the universities: The culture gap is now near lethal

Universities are failing us

Our educational systems are failing to prepare people for existential environmental threats

Shell's new petrochemical complex in southwestern Pennsylvania

The Titans of Plastic

Pennsylvania becomes the newest sacrifice zone for America’s plastic addiction.

Ruth Greenspan Bell: Wealth and the climate dilemma

Ruth Greenspan Bell: Wealth and the climate dilemma

Developing countries that increase their fossil fuel production are at a crossroads: securing their own long-term well-being or earning revenue to finance programs to support immediate economic growth.

Solving the climate crisis will help both ‘sacrifice zones’ and ‘cute’ puffins

Solving the climate crisis will help both ‘sacrifice zones’ and ‘cute’ puffins

Curbing pollution for families in Chicago calms the climatic conditions that drive fish away from puffins half a continent away.

puffin tern recovery climate change

Good news: A good year for puffins and terns, despite climate change

A visit to a remote Maine island finds puffins and terns rebounding despite climate change

Stay informed: sign up for The Daily Climate newsletter
Top news on climate impacts, solutions, politics, drivers. Delivered to your inbox week days.