Transcript: Thom Hartmann: Why can oil barons get away with threatening the President...? 5 January '12

So, Oil barons - and not just American ones - just threatened the President of the United States.

Speaking at a conference this week - Jack Gerard - the head of the American Petroleum Institute - which is the nation's largest lobbying organization for oil and gas corporations - told President Obama:

I think it would be a huge mistake on the part of the president of the United States to deny the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline...Clearly, the Keystone XL pipeline is in the national interest. A determination to decide anything less than that I believe will have huge political consequences.

Do what the oil barons say - build the damn pipeline - or suffer "huge political consequences"?

The sad part is - in today's post Citizens United world - we have to take these threats seriously.

But before we get to that - let's take a look at exactly what the oil barons are demanding.


Image courtesy of TransCanada.

This is the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.... The dotted line is the proposed pipeline. There's already a Keystone XL pipeline in place, it's the solid red line and it's carrying oil to refineries in the mid west, in Illinois and in Nebraska, Kansas and all along the route. So it's already there.

So here we have now this proposed pipeline down to the Gulf Coast. It's 1,661 miles of new pipeline that will carry 900,000 barrels each day of Canadian tar sands oil - some of the most toxic stuff in the world - all the way from Alberta, Canada - to the southern tip of Texas.

In the process - that pipeline will cut right through some of our nation's most precious natural resources - including the Ogallala Aquifer - the largest aquifer in the world that sits underneath 8 states as far north as South Dakota all the way down to Texas.

Ogallala Aquifer
Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

That area has been known to experience seismic activity that could rupture the pipeline - contaminating this giant aquifer that provides drinking water for 23 million people and supports $20 billion of agriculture in the Midwest.

Think BP oil spill...only way worse.

Any leak - anywhere along the 1,600 mile route could do unthinkable damage to local communities and natural habitats.

And already - there've been 12 spills in just one year along the existing Keystone pipeline.

Environmentalists have called the pipeline a "ticking time bomb" for the environment.

And looking at how much more dirty oil would be burned and spewed into the atmosphere thanks to this pipeline - NASA scientist James Hansen called completion of the project "game over for the planet."

But the oil barons want it really, really, really bad.

They argue it will help end our dependence on foreign oil. That once we turn the spigot on from Canada - which is a foreign country by the way - we'll be awash in oil to put in our cars, and heat our homes, or just store in barrels in our backyards...we'll have SO MUCH oil.

But that's a lie.

If these guys REALLY cared about supplying the United States with more oil - then what's the point of extending the pipeline all the way down to Texas?

Why not just expand the existing pipeline that's already supplying refineries in the Midwest?

It turns out the real reason why the oil barons want the pipeline to go to Texas is NOT so they can supply the United States - but so they can export the refined products to the rest of the world.

The oil barons see dollar signs - and if they can get that crude oil down to Texas, refine it there and put the gasoline and diesel fuel onto ships in the Gulf of Mexico - they can export it all over the globe - make enormous profits - much of which will not be taxed in the US.

That oil will never make it to your car - it's going to go to South America, Europe, or Asia.

Want proof?

Did you know that gasoline just became the number one export of the United States?

That's right - we're already shipping more gasoline around the world than anything else that we make or do in the United States.

So - if we don't really need more oil - what about the need for jobs? That's the second sales pitch.

They argue that the XL Pipeline will stimulate our economy and create tens of thousands of jobs.

It turns out that's also a lie.

The Pipeline will only create a few thousands jobs - anywhere between 1,500 and 4,000 - and those jobs will only be temporary - lasting just two years.

Plus - more jobs may be lost than gained as a result of the pipeline.

Since this dirty tar sands oil is going to be moved into export-oriented refineries - demand for the oil in the US will actually go up - and prices will go up too.

According to an independent analysis - gas prices in the Midwest would increase by 20-cents a gallon as a result of that pipeline reaching the export ships in the Gulf of Mexico.

And American farmers who spent $12.4 billion on fuel in 2009 - could spend as much as $15 billion if the pipeline is built.

Higher gas prices always translated into fewer jobs.

So in reality - this pipeline is a job killer.

But there's something even more disturbing than the lies coming from the oil barons on this issue...and that's the threats.

If a transnational corporation in any other developed nation threatened the president or Prime Minister of that nation that if it didn't bend , if that person didn't bend to their will then there would be "consequences" - the people would be horrified.

But here - when transnational corporations threaten the President of the United States - it's no big deal.

It's just another Wednesday in America.

That's a sign that corporations have FAR too much power and influence in our nation.

That instead of corporations being the "carefully restrained creatures of the law and the servants of the people" as President Grover Cleveland said they should be - we - and especially our politicians - are quickly becoming the servants of the corporations.

The President has less than 60 days to make a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline.

Republicans who are owned by the oil barons have even started up a countdown clock to remind him.

Let's hope he makes the right decision - the decision he was ELECTED to make by we the people - and doesn't bow to the unelected oil barons who think they get whatever they want in America now that they can spend as much money as they'd like in our elections.

Do what's right, Mr. President.

And the rest of us will do what's right and fight back against corporate personhood and the Citizens United decision that made it possible for these oil barons to threaten a sitting president of the United States.

End corporate personhood now.

Go to move to amend.org.

That's The Big Picture.

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