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Jim Hightower
Jim Hightower
10 Feb 2016
How Corporate Bamboozlers Intend to Widen Inequality in America

The basic problem facing the corporate and political powers that want you and me to swallow their Trans-… Read More.

3 Feb 2016
What Really Poisoned the Water in Flint, Michigan

The mantra of every Koch-headed, right-wing politico is that government should be run like a business, always … Read More.

27 Jan 2016
Take the Movement to the White House

At a recent dinner with my work team, I was reminded that I had said I wanted to travel less for work this … Read More.

The Keystone XL Flim-flam


For Rep. Allen West, the skyrocketing price of gasoline is not just a policy matter, it's a personal pocketbook issue. The Florida tea-party Republican (who, of course, blames President Obama for the increase) recently posted a message on Facebook wailing that it's now costing him $70 to fill his Hummer H3.

It's hard to feel the pain of a whining, $174,000-a-year congress-critter, but millions of regular Americans really are feeling pain at the pump — especially truck drivers, cabbies, farmer, commuters and others whose livelihoods are tethered to the whims of Big Oil. It's an especially cynical political stunt, then, for congressional Republicans, GOP presidential wannabes and a chorus of right-wing mouthpieces to use gas price pain as a whip for lashing out at Obama's January decision to reject the infamous Keystone XL pipeline.

This friendly Canadian corporation, they cried, would send 700,000 barrels of "tar sands crude" oil per day through the 2,000-mile-long pipeline that it would build from Alberta, Canada, to Texas refineries on the Gulf Coast. "Less dependence on OPEC," they chant like a mantra, "more gasoline for America, lower prices for consumers." What's not to like?

Well, aside from inevitable environmental damage from pipeline leaks, and the fact that this foreign-owned corporation would use the autocratic power of eminent domain to take land from unwilling sellers along the 2,000 mile route, here's something not to like: The gasoline and diesel that would be made from this Canadian crude would not go to American gas pumps, but to foreign markets.

The dirty little secret that those pushing so urgently for building Keystone XL don't want you to know is that the tar sands oil producers are in cahoots with Texas refineries to move the product onto the lucrative global export market, selling it to buyers in Europe, Latin America and China — not to you and me.

The pipeline and the toxic crude it'll carry across six states would do absolutely nothing to shave even a penny off of the price we pay at the pump.

Already, U.S. refineries are exporting records amounts of the gasoline they make. For the first time in 62 years, America is now a net petroleum exporter. Valero Energy Corp., the largest U.S. exporter of refined petroleum products, is a major lobbyist for Keystone XL. Along with Motiva (an oil refiner jointly owned by Shell and Saudi Aramco) and Total (a French refinery), Valero has signed secret, long-term contracts with Keystone's owner (TransCanada Corp.) and several tar sands oil producers to bring this crude to Port Arthur, Texas. All three have upgraded their refineries there to process diesel for export.

Adding to Big Oil's enjoyment is the fact that the Port Arthur refineries of Valero, Motiva and Total are within a Foreign Trade Zone, giving them special tax breaks for shipping gasoline and diesel out of our country. And adding to the dismay of some U.S. consumers, TransCanada has quietly boasted that Keystone XL would cut gasoline supplies in our Midwestern states, thus raising prices at the pump and siphoning more billions of dollars a year from consumers pockets into the vaults of multinational oil interests.

So, lets tally the score in this Keystone pipeline deal: The American people's environment would be put at risk, foreign nations would get the fuel, pipeline and oil investors would get the tax-subsidized profits, and we'd all stay hooked on deadly polluting oil. Meanwhile, the financial speculators and supply manipulators who are artificially causing our gasoline prices to rise escape scrutiny, while self-serving politicians (tanked up on Big Oil's and Wall Street's campaign cash) divert attention to the bugaboo of Obama's pipeline decision.

And, yet again, our nation has an excuse to postpone the necessary investments in conservation, alternative fuels and mass transit that will actually solve the gas-gouging problem.

What's not to like?

To find out more about Jim Hightower, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at



7 Comments | Post Comment
Thanks for explaining more details about the Keystone XL project. Through the entire debate I couldn't understand why the tar sand oil had to go all the way to Texas, when there are operational refineries in Gary, Indiana. If it went to Gary then it would be used by US citizens and now I get that is not the point.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Angela
Wed Feb 29, 2012 4:49 AM
It seems like this author is opposed to both eminent domain and tax-subsidizes. SInce it seems Ron Paul is the only presidential candidate running that is also opposed both by his statments and record then he should be recieving this authors support.
Comment: #2
Posted by: SCOTT
Wed Feb 29, 2012 4:23 PM
If you actually knew Hightower's politics, you'd know that there are _may_ things about Ron Paul with which this author would disagree. I'm sure Paul is _not_ Hightower's candidate. Your "logic" is very weak.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Andrew Peterson
Sat Mar 3, 2012 2:42 AM
Regarding "So, lets tally the score in this Keystone pipeline deal: The American people's environment would be put at risk, foreign nations would get the fuel, pipeline and oil investors would get the tax-subsidized profits, and we'd all stay hooked on deadly polluting oil."
IF we approve the XL pipeline, the agreement could include how much needed to stay in the US to help our prices and if any environmental damage happens, the combined parties (Valero,TransCanada, etc) are responsible for the cleanup and repair. We will never get totally away from oil. Many other manufacturing items require oil. Get over it.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Darlene
Sat Mar 3, 2012 4:43 PM
I never watched Bill Moyers, but happened to catch his last show. I'm very glad I did. That was where I saw Jim Hightower for the first time. This type of good information is wonderful. I'm a Nixon and Reagan republican (although I did like Carter), and I am now an Obama supporter. In my studies, I've begun to recognize that it is the universities of the United States that have somehow been corrupted. Those graduates are now in their thirties and running everything from television to politics. One very basic flaw in their thinking besides such gems as "the purpose of a corporation is to earn profits from investors" (false) and "competition is part of lassez faire economics" (false) is that they view deceit as somehow acceptable in business. I was proud last week when the FBI made itself useful and busted the creeps on Wall Street who used unethical money grubbing schemes.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Mike Hayne
Sun Mar 4, 2012 2:56 PM
Anyone who complains about it costing too much to fill up his hummer needs to report to me for a hard kick in the groin.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Mon Mar 5, 2012 7:06 AM
too many people believe the Rush Limbaugh's and Boehner's of the country rather than honest people, with the countries best interests, like Jim Hightower.
Comment: #7
Posted by: carlbrothers
Mon Mar 5, 2012 8:23 AM
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