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not all is equal. what choice will you make?

Debating Ethical Oil vs. Imaginary Unicorn Fuel

Jamie Ellerton March 6, 2012

The U.S. version of the Huffington Post is holding a debate: Ezra Levant, author of Ethical Oil, versus Bill McKibben. You might have heard of McKibben. He’s the crusader who led the fight against the Keystone XL pipeline using flawed statistics, exaggerations and fabrications. Not surprisingly, when HuffPo asked them both to make their case about whether the U.S. should build Keystone XL or not, McKibben hauls all his dirty tricks out again.

The oil sands are causing cancer, he says. Except that actual physicians and epidemiologists have studied that claim exhaustively and found no merit to it. Alberta’s tailings ponds are the largest on Earth, McKibben spins. In fact, they’re tiny compared to others: The 500 square kilometres of ponds around Florida’s phosphate industry are larger than all the land disturbed by oil sands production combined. McKibben throws in the Koch brothers as some kind of boogeyman, neglecting to mention that far bigger investors in Canada’s oil sands are pension funds belonging to teachers and nurses. But he doesn’t have to worry anyone will check his fables and challenge him. Few people have yet.

That includes the biggest pass that McKibben’s been given: If not Canadian oil, then what? He says that feeding America’s addiction to oil with this pipeline will “delay the transition” to wind and solar power. Either he’s naive or he’s being misleading again. Solar and wind power together still comprise less than one percent of America’s energy supply and they are still unable to substitute as transportation fuels (an electric Nissan Leaf that can travel 70 miles after a seven hour charge isn’t a realistic transportation alternative for 99.9% of the cars, trucks and airplanes fueled by oil). And since we don’t yet have imaginary unicorn fuel, America will continue to use oil; McKibben would just have Americans continue to depend on OPEC’s conflict oil for the next few decades.

That doesn’t sound like a persuasive case to us. Go over to Huffington Post and check out the debate yourself and see if it makes any more sense to you.



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