The Illogic of Oil Prohibitionists

Thomas Friedman writes in The New York Times that he hopes President Obama turns down further proposals to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline. After all, he says, “Who wants the U.S. to facilitate the dirtiest extraction of the dirtiest crude from tar sands in Canada’s far north?”

What is with liberals making judgments of everything, from oil to people, based on color?

Yes, oil is dirty. It’s black, it’s slimy, and takes a while to clean up. But that is why the Keystone pipeline is not the Keystone River. Why should it matter how dirty it is if it is being transported in a sealed metal tube? It’s not as if the proposal is that they build an unlined creek running from Canada to America and then tossing the oil into it to run downstream. That is one scenario that would warrant mentioning how dirty oil is.

But the stuff is in a pipe. It’s metal. It’s sealed. Who cares how icky it is?

Friedman is not the only liberal who complains of oil’s dirtiness. Indeed, that seems to be the primary concern of liberals with oil. But it’s odd that instead of proposing ways to make sure oil companies do a competent and environmentally friendly job building the pipe system through which the oil will be flowing, they scoff at such logic and embrace our regression into the 1600s, when oil wasn’t providing civilization with such nuisances as reliable transportation and rubber-soled shoes.

Instead of making sure the oil is transported safely, liberals want to just take away the oil altogether. It’s tantamount to someone purposely destroying his own car for fear that the steering may go out one day while driving, or that the brakes may fail. So he swears-off automobiles altogether while, in the meantime, he tries to invent another mode of transportation as practical as the automobile. If someone told you he was afraid that his car would one day malfunction, so he destroyed it, you’d call him insane. Liberals would call him progressive.

The one thing Friedman gets right in his Times op-ed is that we “we need to be realistic about the need to keep building a bridge to a different energy future….” We will one day run out of oil, and for that we (entrepreneurs, not the government) do need to be looking into a more sustainable form of energy. That form isn’t here yet. Until we find it, society cannot be expected to give up something on which it has become virtually dependent. We still have oil; there is no reason not to be drilling for it as we look for other energy sources.

Who wants the U.S. to facilitate the dirtiest extraction of the dirtiest crude from tar sands in Canada’s far north? People who live in the modern era.