America: Big Oil’s Slaughterhouse Floor

What exactly will the Keystone XL pipeline (KXL) and Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) accomplish? Well, because I have talked about it before, I am going to focus on the KXL. I have seen people all over the internet proclaiming how much better this will be for America because it will make us more energy independent. To use Trump’s words, “Wrong!”

America is already the least dependent it has been on foreign oil in a long time. For some perspective, I would like to reach back in time.

A little over four years ago, after a debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, in which Romney criticized President Obama “for not doing enough to increase domestic oil and gas production,” I wrote the following on my personal blog:

“In fact, he [Romeny] went further and suggested that the president has actually decreased it. I came across a few interesting news stories in the last week. Today, I read an article about the ten industries with double-digit job growth. Two of those industries are directly related to the very criticism Governor Romney made against the President. In the last two years drilling oil and gas wells has added 21,970 jobs, which is an increase of 29%, second only to internet publishing and broadcasting. The fourth fastest job growth industry is crude petroleum and natural gas extraction, which has added 32,715 jobs in the last two years, up 21%. Additionally, the AP reported the following:

‘The AP reports new drilling methods have boosted U.S. oil production 7 percent this year. And next year, the Energy Department sees American output falling just shy of Saudi Arabia’s 11.6 million barrels per day. Industry analysts predict that by 2020, North America could be “the new Middle East.”’

“Even I’ll admit that the last statement is probably a stretch, but the data makes for a stark contrast to Governor Romney’s claims against the President. Of course, every story chooses which facts to focus on, so I wanted to make sure I presented the full spectrum for you here, as one commentator noted that in Fahey’s column,

‘He uses both oil and biofuel production and compares it to just Saudi oil production. That’s not apples to apples. Then he omits that if we just reach the same level of oil production as the Saudis, close to 11 mbd, with just over 20.6bn barrels of known conventional recoverable oil, we’re out of oil in just 5.15 years. Of course more technically recoverable oil, including shale, will be produced in the US so you might extend the end date, but not by decades. According to the CIA World Factbook, draw a line from Yemen to the Caspian Sea and there’s over 760 billion barrels of conventional recoverable oil, compared to our 20.6bn. For the record we are just barely over 6 mbd in total oil production. Outstanding job, but a long way from where the Saudis are.’

“This is a fair assessment, but even if all of his data is accurate, no one can argue with the huge job growth in two different sectors of this extremely large industry. As for me, I couldn’t care less (well, maybe I could). Regardless of how much oil there is the world over, it doesn’t change that it is a limited resource that will run out one day. The only way to combat rising oil costs and to make the US energy independent is to invest in alternative energy across the board, which the Obama Administration is doing, but, of course, with a whole host of criticism because, as Governor Romney contested, half of those green energy companies the administration has invested in have gone bankrupt. Governor Romney needs to brush up on his math. The administration has invested in 63 of these green energy companies and only 5 have gone bankrupt. That’s about as close to a perfect record in the business world as anyone can hope to achieve.”


President Barack Obama opposed the KXL, and I thought that would be the end of it; I mean, it was four years ago. Obviously, some people did not forget about it, as Trump has swooped in and resurrected it. Now I see comments from people arguing how good this will be for America, especially if we build more refineries for all that oil. What oil? From an even earlier personal blog post, I discussed the following:

“There’s no simple explanation for why most people are spending $3.60 for a gallon of regular, unleaded gas. But many critics of President Obama’s energy policy point to one possible reason: The U.S. isn’t fully tapping into the potential supply from Canada and, specifically, a place called the Athabasca Tar Sands in Alberta.” (Quoted from this 2012 story)

Most people making those arguments in 2012 and the new arguments for US independence from foreign oil today don’t care about facts. Not one drop of KXL oil will make it into U.S. gas pumps. From its proposed destination in Texas, all that oil will be exported. Additionally, all the way back in 2011 (well into Obama’s presidency) the US actually had an overabundance of oil. In fact, we had so much oil, that the good ol’ U.S. of A. exported it for the first time.



Here we are, now, once again, facing the KXL, which still has absolutely nothing to do with America’s energy independence or dependence on foreign oil. To repeat, not one drop of that oil is slated for America. It originates in Canada, runs across thousands of miles of American soil, and empties into freighters in the Gulf of Mexico, and those freighters are slated for . . . wait for it . . . other countries. So where does that leave us? Well, considering all the pipeline oil spills in the last two decades, that makes America little more than Big Oil’s slaughterhouse floor. Just take a look at this list (which is incomplete!) of pipeline spills just in the 21st century. While big oil and climate change deniers gut and exploit everything they can from this earth, its blood will be left on our hands and all over sacred land.


*Featured image: By Traroth (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons)



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