When critics of the oil industry speak out about issues like rail and pipeline safety they usually say they aren’t anti-oil. They’re just for the safe and responsible development and transportation of oil. That’s because these people usually have a streak of pragmatism which allows them to recognize that oil and other fossil fuels are, for the foreseeable future, a necessity.
Moving away from oil and coal – to name just two examples – would mean major changes to our cost of living and quality of life because there are no alternative energy sources which can be scaled up to meet current demand for energy while being as cheap and reliable.
But when it comes to the organizers of a massive anti-pipeline protest in Minnesota scheduled for this weekend – one aimed squarely at the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s consideration of the Sandpiper pipeline which is of huge importance to the North Dakota oil fields – there is no such pragmatism.
Don’t take my word for it. Here’s protest organizer Andy Pearson in his own words:
“Minnesota is really the hub of (oil) transportation,” Pearson said. “Most of the oil flowing into the country is flowing through Minnesota. … The key thing to note is we want to stop the oil at the source, and stopping the oil from entering this country.”
“Stopping the oil.”
This isn’t about pipeline safety. This isn’t about responsible energy development. This is about an ideological objection to fossil fuels. Full stop.
As such, it would be nice if someone asked these protesters what we do if we stop oil. How do we power our cars? According to the article linked above, organizers of this protest are bringing in “busloads of people from places as far as Nebraska and Ohio” to their anti-oil protest.
What do they think those buses run on? Fairy dust and unicorn farts?
How do we account for the drastic impact on the cost of living stopping the oil would have? Something that would be devastating particularly for lower-income Americans?
I’m not against looking for and discussing possible alternatives for oil. There’s no question that using oil has some downsides, and if we had something better available to us we should use it.
But that’s the point. As of right now there is nothing better. Oil is what we have until something better comes along. While we wait we should be focused on responsible development and safe transportation, which is exactly why we should pay little attention to this protest in Minnesota.