- - Thursday, June 12, 2014

The United States already has 185,000 miles of liquid-petroleum pipelines, 320,000 miles of natural-gas transmission pipelines and more than 2,000,000 miles of neighborhood gas-distribution pipelines.

Using the latest steel, valves and other technologies to build an additional 1,179 miles of pipe — to move 830,000 barrels of oil daily from Canada and North Dakota to Texas refineries — should not be an earth-shattering matter.

The pipeline would create some 40,000 construction and other jobs. That’s huge for an economy that grew at a Depression-era clip of minus-1 percent during the first quarter of 2014, and when the true unemployment rate is almost 13 percent — and much worse for blacks and Hispanics.

The pipeline would ease railroad congestion and improve safety. Its absence forces energy producers to move crude by railroad tanker car, monopolizing tracks and causing delays in getting fertilizer to farmers, affecting their planting schedules. Heavy tanker traffic also raises the likelihood of derailments and oil spills, such as one in Quebec that killed 47 people and others in Colorado and Virginia that fortunately caused no deaths.

The pipeline will make North America more energy independent, further improve America’s balance of trade and national security, help European allies counter Russian President Vladimir Putin’s energy blackmail and improve relations with U.S. ally and trading partner Canada.

However, despite all these reasons for building the pipeline, President Obama refuses to approve it, even to protect vulnerable Democrat politicians. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has even resisted votes on nonbinding resolutions in support of the pipeline. Some opponents say they’re prepared to go to jail to stop the pipeline.

What’s going on here? Keystone is symbolic — and environmentalism is heavily invested in symbolism.

Indeed, the pipeline has become the symbol of Big Green environmentalism’s implacable opposition to anything hydrocarbon. The pipeline is onshore and offshore drilling, fracking, oil sands and, above all, “catastrophic man-made climate disruption.” That’s the term created to let alarmists blame any climate shift or weather event on human carbon dioxide emissions.

The pipeline represents the environmentalists’ determination to control American lives and livelihoods, reduce our energy use and living standards, redistribute wealth — and permit Third World development only in accordance with “sustainable development” and “renewable energy future” principles.

Blocking its construction will have about as much effect on Earth’s climate as a hand grenade would in stopping a hurricane — even if carbon dioxide does influence weather and climate change far more than thousands of scientists say it does.

More than 31,000 American scientists who signed the Oregon Petition and 48 percent of U.S. meteorologists who responded to a recent poll say there is no evidence that humans are causing dangerous warming or climate change.

That’s a far cry from Mr. Obama’s claim of a 97 percent scientific consensus — which is based on responses from 75 of 77 “climate experts” selected from a poll sent to 10,257 scientists and responded to by 3,146. The University of Illinois pollsters did not even tally responses from solar scientists, space scientists, cosmologists, physicists, meteorologists or astronomers.

Moreover, the vicious attacks on Lennart Bengtsson and other experts make it increasingly obvious that much of the remaining “consensus” requires intimidating and blacklisting scientists who might be tempted to stray from the alarmist party line.

China, India, Indonesia, Brazil and many other countries are burning coal, driving cars, modernizing their economies and emitting CO2 at a fevered pace. Blocking Keystone will have no effect on atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, especially if its oil simply goes to Asia, instead of the United States.

However, Big Green has staked its power and reputation on Keystone — and will not back down.

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