On the EDge: Waiting for the karmic hammer to fall; Keystone XL Pipeline

OPINION – Scripture tells us, “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

There is universal moral agreement on the lesson of this tenet that extends from Galatians 6 into the Fourth Karmic Law of Cause and Effect.

Unfortunately, the United States Senate has failed to embrace it.

Thursday, the Senate passed the Keystone XL Pipeline Act, a piece of legislation that would see the construction of a 2,147-mile oil pipeline from Hardisty, Alberta, Canada, to Steele City, Nebraska, where it would link up with an existing pipeline running to the Gulf Coast in Texas.

There was the usual round of backslapping and spin among the new Senate majority as it spoke in delirious terms of lower fuel prices, energy independence, and jobs – none of which will occur in abundance – while they counted the 30 pieces of silver placed in their pockets by Big Oil lobbyists.

Meanwhile, the world reacted, and not in a positive way.

The most noticeable impact reached directly south of the United States and further disturbed a Mexican economy that was already reeling.

The result was that the Mexican peso took another hit in the world money market. As I write this, it now takes 15 Mexican pesos to buy 1 U.S. dollar. The Mexican economy is best balanced when that exchange rate is 12 or less.

The effect of projected lower oil prices hit Mexico hard because 40 percent of the nation’s budget comes from the state-owned and -run Pemex petroleum company. Lower oil prices mean less revenue, which crushes an already fragile economy.

The United States should care deeply about what occurs across the border because Mexico is its third-largest trade partner, behind Canada and China.

A downturn in the Mexican economy means increased prices on goods exported to the United States. It also means severe loss of return on U.S. investments in its commercial and private sectors.

For the short term, those who do business with Mexico, and the growing number of ex-pats fleeing to the country for their retirement years because of the affordability, will flourish; that is, until prices start inflating. The stronger U.S. dollar, however, will not be of any help to the Mexican nationals who toil for, if they are lucky, $100 a week.

Besides leaving a teetering nation on a rocky edge, the Senate also continued to violate the Earth with passage of this legislation.

The pipeline will extract the world’s dirtiest fuel sources – tar sands oil – from an area about the size of Florida, scarring the land and causing havoc with the atmosphere when separating the bitumen from sand, silt, and clay before plunging it down the pipeline across six states, the Missouri, Yellowstone, and Red rivers, and depositing it in U.S. refineries. Refining tar sands oil produces higher emissions of toxic sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide.

Let’s also not forget the potential for oil spills. TransCanada, the company that would build the pipeline, has already had a dozen spills from the first pipeline it built. It’s a very real hazard. If you don’t believe me, ask the folks who live near the Kalamazoo River in Michigan where nearly a billion dollars has been spent over the last three years to clean up a spill. Nearly 40 miles of the river are still contaminated.

Or, ask the folks of Mayflower, Arkansas, where a pipeline they knew nothing about, burst under a residential community and spread to nearby Lake Conway, which provided the area with drinking water.

Then, there is the big lie buried in all of this: that the U.S. will become less dependent on foreign oil with passage of this legislation.

No it won’t.

The oil in that pipeline will come from Canada, which already sells the U.S. more oil than any other country in the world.

The promise of jobs hangs by a thread on the truth meter because most of the jobs will be temporary and go to the crews hired to build the pipeline. There won’t be enough refinery jobs added to make much of a difference.

So, again, tell me about the advantages of the pipeline, other than to fill the pockets of Senate members on the take from Big Oil.

Sen. Orrin Hatch is a big proponent of this bill. Of course, he is also a proponent of fracking, which is proving itself to have an extremely negative impact on our environment.

The president has promised to veto this bill and I hope he sticks to his word because it is doubtful the Senate will be able to scrape together five more votes to override his veto.

He needs to stick to his word to prove that the highest office in the land actually understands the importance of maintaining a healthy environment; that the highest office in the land has an understanding of the impact its nation can have on the global community; that the highest office in the land isn’t buying into the misguided actions of a Congress that continues to reach deeply into the pockets of lobbyists and special interests.

The Congress has given in all too frequently to the whims of corporate America, which has run amok with its insatiable thirst for power and greed, regardless of the impact or outcome on the environment, the global community, or the people who work loyally within its structure.

Even some of the most cash-rich corporations in the United States are undergoing practices to remove those with a bit of longevity on the job and replace them with young people who will work for lower wages, sacrificing experience, wisdom, and skill for larger profit sharing for investors.

The end result, the final product, the damage to the community and environment are meaningless in the chase for the almighty dollar.

In today’s lexicon, “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” pretty well translates into: “What goes around, comes around.”

It will not be a pretty sight when the karmic hammer comes crashing down.

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Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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  • anybody home February 3, 2015 at 9:21 am

    Excellent, Ed!

  • NotSoFast February 3, 2015 at 9:28 am

    so how’s business going for ya in Cabo Ed? Do you have any problems down there with environmental wacko’s trying to tell you not to step on the sandy beaches for fear of disrupting the sand flea home environment?
    Thanks for your misleading article Ed. Look forward to your next tongue in cheek explanation of how to control the cost of living for the common folk.

  • wilbur February 3, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    Anyone really care about Mexico except for them all trying to jump the border to get free stuff here?

  • Brian February 3, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    First, Mexico’s problems are their own. We could throw every dollar we have down there and they’d still be a corrupt third world country. They’re corrupt from top to bottom and bottom to top. Neither we nor our money can change that. Only their people can change that. Second, this is largely academic until the king either signs or vetoes the legislation, since the republicans don’t have the votes to override the veto. That being said, I agree getting tar sands from Canada is a sub-par solution. But you’re opposed to any oil exploration and drilling in Utah, I’m guessing you’re opposed to nuclear, and we’re fresh out of pixie dust. So what is your solution to our energy needs? Something that exists today and is viable, please. Mine: Step 1, withhold every dollar possible from corrupt groups (OPEC) and nations and spend it with the US or it’s allies. Step 2, get the government out of the business of picking winners and losers (solyndra, ethanol, massive subsidies to cronies, carbon taxes and credits which do NOTHING for the environment and just line the pockets of corrupt hypocrites, etc). Step 3, stop doing stupid, knee jerk stuff, like shutting down hundreds of coal power plants with nothing to replace them. Had this winter been as bad as last winter the northeast would have had very serious problems that could have brought down the entire power grid. China is bringing on 1 – 2 new coal plants a week (with horrible emissions technology and standards), which dwarfs the pollution of any of the plants we’re shutting down. I’m all for leading by example and being part of the solution, but we need to be smart about it. There are more steps, but they don’t matter, since not a single one of the first three will be done anyway.

    • Bender February 3, 2015 at 7:12 pm

      ¿dónde está el amor? Your church leaders in SLC frown on your lack of concern for your Mexican brethren and sistren.

      • Brian February 4, 2015 at 6:56 am

        I was responding only to Ed’s absurd use of Mexico as an argument against the pipeline. Recognizing the reality of their situation doesn’t mean I have no love for the Mexican people, it means our nation being an enabler to their corruption does nothing to help their people. This is no different than parents who constantly give money to their drug-addicted children. They aren’t doing them any favors. Their enabling contributes to the problem, not the solution.

  • BIG GUY February 3, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    This entire piece is filled with so much left wing environmental doom and gloom propaganda it’s laughable. Complaining about “dirty oil” is a red herring. Canadian tar sands emit about 0.01% of the world’s greenhouse gases while American power plants emit about 40 times that amount. Obama’s State Department estimates that over 45,000 jobs would be created during construction which is why construction unions support the pipeline. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keystone_Pipeline Like all construction jobs, they will disappear when the work is done. Complaining that there will be few permanent jobs is like opposing home construction since few permanent jobs are created by your house after it’s built.

    If Keystone isn’t built, the Canadians will build pipelines to either or both of their coasts, leaving American workers and refineries idle. In the mean time, Canadian and North Dakota oil will be carried in railroad tank cars, about 1000 times more environmentally dangerous than a pipeline. Do you really believe that if Keystone isn’t built, the Canadians will shut down the tar sands? Get real.

    Mexico’s economy is important to them and important to us. But its economy is being hammered by low oil prices, not by the threat of Keystone. To bring this up is misleading at best.

    Democrats have spent more on elections than Republicans for several decades so bringing up oil and gas industry donations is another red herring (as is Obama’s posturing about “money in politics” in general). The industry donates to virtually all major political candidates including many of those who voted against the pipeline last week. Should we interpret donations to those who opposed the pipeline as the industry secretly hoping the pipeline doesn’t get built?

    Ed, I’ve suggested in the past that you stick to social and political issues; leave economic issues alone. This editorial only reinforces my recommendation.

  • Bender February 3, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    The Canadian tar sands projects may shut themselves down with the drop in oil prices. Saudi Arabia claims it has the cash to weather 8 years of low oil prices while it drives higher cost producers out of business. Tar sands oil extraction is spendy. The Saudis just have to stick a straw in the ground and pump.

    • BIG GUY February 3, 2015 at 4:44 pm

      Like the airline and steel industries, the tar sands required a massive upfront capital investment. In all three cases, fixed costs far overshadow variable costs. As long as continuing operations cover variable costs and make even a small contribution to covering fixed costs and there is some prospect of future profits, it makes economic sense to continue operations. (See your Economics 102 text.)

      In the tar sands case, the price of oil is very likely to rebound if not this year, then certainly in the next year or two. And even if the Saudi’s keep prices down for the eight years you mention, it will make economic sense to keep the tar sands going: airlines lost money for years but are still around.

      We all should be so lucky that oil prices stay at $50 per barrel for the next eight years.

      • Bender February 3, 2015 at 7:06 pm

        I doubt either of us has an adequate handle on the tar sands oil extraction calculus but my hunch is that operating (and maintenance) costs are substantially greater than for pumping oil from a completed well. Your guess on timing of rebound of oil prices is worth what you just charged me for it. Short an almost complete rebound of oil prices, I don’t see anyone having the appetite for the capital costs of a 1,000+ pipeline anytime soon. Regardless of whether or not it is built, the pipeline will live on as irresistible political fodder for both the left and the right.
        Your airline comparison is weak. Try harder next time.

    • NotSoFast February 3, 2015 at 5:06 pm

      Your missing Ed’s point Bender. He doesn’t care if Saudi Arabia puts it to America bottom line. He just wants his own country to look like it’s a caring nation to the UN. And of course to put a smile on Al Gore’s bottom line and send the American legal workers to the unemployment office. Your true sneaky motives are coming across load & clear Mister Ed . (Just one American’s opinion)

  • Kerry February 3, 2015 at 6:38 pm

    Converse to the statement from Ed, Mexico’s exports to the U.S. will be cheaper. If our dollar now buys 15 Pesos (rather than 12), our dollar buys more, meaning “decreased” prices. This should help increase their exports to the U.S. Sounds like a trade imbalance that benefits Mexico.

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