Take a stand

Local airman gets arrested to send the president a message on Keystone XL

Steven R. Breedlove is a native of Foresthill in Placer County and now stationed at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware
For more information on the effort to halt the Keystone XL, visit www.tarsandsaction.org.

I am a serviceman native to the Gold Country. Having recently reached my third year of service in the U.S. Air Force, I was reflecting on my oath of enlistment and the meaning of my commitment to this great country. Rereading the oath, I kept getting stuck on my duty 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 domestic enemy.

On August 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-sand fields 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 associated with the project has already leaked into the Yellowstone River and will do so along Keystone XL’s route, holding 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 climactic events.

There are three things this pipeline will not do:

It will not create lasting employment. Both oil-industry and green-tech analysts agree that without a clear future for American energy, markets will never capitalize. Denying Keystone XL will spur investment in new companies and technologies by signaling the need for alternatives. This will result in the creation of jobs not by the hundreds, as the pipeline would, but by the tens of thousands.

It will not lower gas prices. The proposed agreement will not establish domestic sales quotas, and the oil will be sold on the same fluctuating markets on which we are already dependent.

Finally, some believe having access to the oil of friendly nations will stop the flow of oil money to fundamentalist militants. But Keystone XL will not cap Middle Eastern wells, which will continue to have willing buyers elsewhere. The 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 was sworn to protect. The liberty and rights to property of the affected individuals and native peoples will be trampled in the pipeline’s wake. The economic prosperity of millions hangs on its approval. And the quality of life—the ideological and judicially clarified foundation of our revolution—of every American is at stake.

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 pipeline.

Battles may not win wars, but they can change the course of a campaign.