By Jim Hightower
Both the old and new media agree on is this: If you need a story that’s guaranteed to be popular, go with animals. Cute kittens, puppies, porpoises, penguins, and polar bears are all a good bet.
Now, corporate shills are tapping this animal ploy to push some of their ugliest profiteering schemes. Including the Keystone XL pipeline. A cabal of TransCanada Corporation and oil giants, such as ExxonMobil, wants to shove this massively polluting, ozone-depleting, wildlife-threatening pipeline from Alberta, Canada, right through the center of America, carrying tar sands oil all the way to the Gulf Coast.
It’s not exactly a popular idea, and it was made less popular by a couple of recent, very nasty spills of toxic tar from existing pipelines — one in Michigan and the other in Arkansas. So, cue the animals!
Larry Kudlow, a shameless, corporate-hugging host of a TV show on CNBC, proclaimed in August that — by gollies — the Keystone pipeline would be terrific for wildlife. Why? Because, explained this noted expert on beastly habits, the loveable bears, deer, and such would “like to snuggle under the pipeline [for] warmth.”
Rayola Dougher, an economist at the American Petroleum Institute — Big Oil’s chief lobbying group – immediately agreed with Kudlow. She piped in that “animals like the Alaskan crude oil pipeline quite a bit.”
How darling! And how wrong.
What we have here are a couple of sycophants mouthing a right-wing myth that’s been promoted on the political circuit for a while. Actual animal experts, however, note that Canadian caribou are now listed as “threatened,” largely because of the tar sands rush.
Independent scientists studying the Keystone project say it will wreak havoc on animals all along its nature-destroying path. Even the Interior Department is calling on the government to pay more attention to the pipeline’s potential damage to wildlife and water quality.
How cute is that?
OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown.