My duty to protect this land

The Keystone pipeline threatens core American values

The author is a Chico State graduate (2007, history) who works as an air traffic controller at Dover AFB in Delaware, studies international relations at American Military University, and “spends his free time trying to make environmentalism accessible to conservatives.”

I am a serviceman and Chico State alumnus. Having recently reached my third year of service, I was reflecting on my oath of enlistment and the meaning of my commitment to protect this land from “all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

I am not writing to draw your attention to terrorism or a nuclear Iran, but to urge you to join the fight against a more threatening domestic enemy.

On Aug. 31, I participated in a civil disobedience sit-in at the White House to demand that my commander-in-chief deny TransCanada the permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline from the tar sands of Alberta to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast.

This pipeline will facilitate the wanton destruction of native lands in Canada and the United States. It will violate the rights of farmers and ranchers along its route and threatens their livelihoods.

A tar-sands pipeline has already poisoned the Yellowstone River, and Keystone XL’s route holds hostage the Ogallala Aquifer—the Intermountain West’s most important supply of domestic and irrigation water.

Finally, Keystone XL will guarantee we continue down the irrevocable path of climate change, bringing more drought, more erratic weather and more severe climatic events.

Three things this pipeline will not do:

• It will not create the employment America needs. Denying Keystone XL will spur investment by signaling the need for alternatives. This will create jobs not by the hundreds, as the pipeline would, but by the tens of thousands.

• It will not lower gas prices. There are no established domestic sales quotas, and the oil will be sold on the same fluctuating markets on which we are already dependent.

• Finally, access to the oil of friendly nations will not stop the flow of oil money to fundamentalist militants because willing buyers are already lined up at those wells. This pipeline will not increase national security. On the contrary, it is inviting a much more pervasive enemy into our country.

The Keystone pipeline threatens the constitutional values I have sworn to protect. If you also stand for private-property rights, for access to clean water, and for social, economic and environmental justice, you stand against the Keystone XL pipeline.