– by Fiske Sterling, CEO, Thanatocorp
From Keystone XL to the Dakota Access to dozens of other pipelines proposed across the US to transport crude oil, natural gas, or biofuels, pipelines have gotten a bad rap recently.
We all know the arguments against them: Burning fossil fuels causes climate change. Drilling and fracking harms water quality. Building pipelines steals the land of everyone from farmers to Native Americans. Oil spills pollute water and soil.
But that’s just one side of the story. Pipelines also do a lot of good, if you look at them right. Here are just three examples.
1. Pipelines Connect
All too often in our great nation we feel disconnected from one another. With three thousand miles between coasts, sometimes it feels like we live in several different countries instead of just one.
If you were around in the 1980s you’ll remember Hands Across America, where on a single day in 1986 over six million people were encouraged to literally link hands across the entire continent from sea to shining sea. An ambitious—and failed—effort.
But what if there was a way to demonstrate this interconnectedness without millions of people standing outside holding hands like idiots? The good news is, there is. Yep, you guessed it: a pipeline!
2. Solution to Pollution
Environmentalists say oil is bad for the environment. If that’s true, shouldn’t we find the places where it exists in its highest concentrations and drain it, the way we do with pus in a blister?
And it just so happens that the best way to do this is by using pipelines to siphon these toxic oilfields dry the way we do with mosquito-infested swamps. Once we’ve collected it all, we can remove it from the Earth entirely by burning it in our gas tanks and power plants.
3. Life is Precious
Despite our best efforts to avoid oil spills – or what we in the industry like to call “alternate flow events” – they still happen sometimes. And when they do, it’s up to us to make the best of them.
When bubbling crude contaminates a river or seeps into fertile farmland from a burst pipeline, it’s a unique opportunity for us to truly appreciate the fragile wonder of nature that we so often take for granted.
To all those “keep it in the ground” anti-pipeline folks: I’m not trying to change your minds. You have every right to voice your opinions and fight for what you believe in, including the end to fossil fuel pipelines.
However, in the meantime, until your movement encourages people to actually reduce energy consumption – 80% of which is generated by fossil fuels compared to a fraction of 1% from solar – oil and gas pipelines aren’t going away, so you might as well learn to love them.
Fiske Sterling is the CEO of Thanatocorp, a multinational corporation with subsidiaries in the oil, gas, and biofuels industries.