Response to Barry Dain Steinhagen on Keystone XL

This morning on Erie Talk in the Morning on AM 1400 (, Barry took a call from someone who said the most recent pipeline leak in a lake was additional validation that the Keystone XL pipeline should not be built. Following that call someone attempted to use sarcasm to indicate we should regress and not use any fuels or electricity.

From what I could tell Barry took two specific positions to refute the second caller. The first was that spills do happen…that the fact that spills happen was a justification to oppose the pipeline. The second was that what we should do instead of the pipeline was green energy.

Applying my principles to this, the first is that freedom would indicate that we should not use government to impede the freedom of people to pursue competitive movement of oil. Fiscally, government restrictions on any particular activity where there is a capitalistic interest would inherently create an increase in the cost of that item. Energy is something that disproportionately affects the budgets of lower income families, so essentially the opposition to the pipeline is anti-poor-family as well.

Comparing to green energy we have a lack of competitive viability (which will change over time naturally with the depletion of less expensive sources), which uses more tax money to create incentives that could be used for other purposes. Government blind advocacy can also push through potentially significant environmental (e.g. injuring birds from windmills) that would otherwise have more balanced footing. Comparing allowing a business to build a pipeline versus government to subsidize energy that would still be more expensive continues the problem.

Unfortunately for the first point, however, is that opposition to the pipeline does not keep oil from being moved. Moving oil in trains is dangerous to people and increases the energy cost of moving the oil. It obviously also increases energy costs. Evaluating train movement of oil to pipeline movement would show that human and environmental risk is actually higher for any equal amount of volume of movement of oil.

Freedom, family, and fiscal responsibility allow me to see how the arguments Barry uses create a more unjust, repressive, and overall harder-to-get-by-in society. Barry already has it made: he can afford to pay more for energy. But those that are not so well off must feel the pain of Barry’s position on energy.

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