Independent Guestatorial: Burn, burn, burn: Let oil flow like a river


We’re clearly coming to the end of the fossil fuel era. We have the technology to shift to emission-free energy, we have the will of the people. The only thing that’s keeping us back is the fossil fuel industry’s hold on our political system. That is what we need to change. – Mark Ruffalo

Dr. Luis Contreras – Two Arkansas Water Protectors, arrested on Dec. 12 and charged with criminal trespassing for stopping the Diamond Pipeline near the St. Francis River, are facing $500 in fines and 30 days in prison. Imagine the horror of Texas drillers at the sight of a 100 lb., 5 ft tall, 24-year-old mom and a grandpa chained to the equipment. This should have never happened.

Pipeline Politics

Arkansas politics of deforestation, coal power generation and fossil fuels, have dire consequences for Arkansans. Private property rights, public health, and environmental justice, are an illusion. Pipeline permits are granted as political favors, blocking public input while pretending to follow the law.

Arkansas gives millions to India for a steel pipe mill, but cuts Medicaid benefits for people with developmental disabilities. Welspun hires temporary workers to avoid paying for work injuries.

On August 8, 2016, Diamond gave Welspun a $46 million contract, ignoring defective welded pipes, OSHA safety violations, and one fatality. USACE says there were no public comments opposing Welspun. However, the Corps permit was granted on May 26, before the Welspun deal.

USACE trusts what Diamond says: “Information submitted by the requestor stated that Diamond Pipeline will exceed industry standards with pipeline materials, testing, and monitoring.” No concerns with seismic activity or karst geology. “Plans show the pipeline is to be installed well below the bottom of the channels and rivers and therefore will not affect navigation or operation and maintenance activities of any USACE project.”

No engineering review required. “Regulatory authorities do not include approval of project structural designs. Plains All-American should be contacted to obtain specific details related to the design parameters of the pipeline.” No concerns with floods on the right of way. “ADEQ does not require stormwater permits for oil pipelines.”

Burn, Burn, Burn?

We are running out of time to shift away from fossil fuels to emission-free, solar and wind energy. Divesting from fossil fuels and investing in solar and wind technologies must continue.

Electric cars are emission-free. Fuel emissions from North Dakota to driving in China include fracking to extract shale oil, transportation of crude oil on pipelines over thousands of miles of land and rivers, shipping on tankers overseas, refining crude for gasoline, distribution of gasoline on pipelines and trucks, and driving emissions.

Mni Wiconi

The Dec. 14, 2016 public order to stop drinking tap water in Corpus Christi, Texas, highlights the public health risks of crude oil refineries. Valero denied responsibility for the contamination. However, new reports show Indulin AA-86 and hydrochloric acid, back-flowed into the water line within the Valero terminal on Dec. 7. As of Dec. 19, the problem had not been resolved. Valero owns 50 percent of the Diamond pipeline.

Norman, Okla., has had cancer fatalities from Chromium-6 and increased arsenic levels. Wastewater from fracking injected in wells is the source of contamination.

Selenium causes damage to the kidneys, skin, and nervous system. It can make its way into water after being discharged by oil refineries, and coal ash from coal-fired power plants.

What makes America great?

Except for the First Nations, all of us at some point migrated to America. For some it was a choice, others were lucky to be born here.

Here are some of the things I think about: John F. Kennedy’s vow to defend freedom for America’s friends and from its enemies, and his commitment to fight poverty and promote hemispheric solidarity. He ended his inaugural speech by saying: “My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.”

O beautiful for spacious skies,

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,

O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife,

O Beautiful for patriot dream

America, The Beautiful – Katharine Lee Bates, 1913

Dr. Luis Contreras


  1. The court date has been postponed until Jan 20, 2017 for the two Water Guardians charged with criminal tresspasing. No damage was made to the equipment, no threats to the Texas Drillers.

    The Arkansas community is highly concerned with any action taken by police officers to threaten citizens from expressing their opinion in a peaceful manner. No one wants to be arrested. The approval process for Diamond is broken; all agencies claim they have no jurisdiction.

    If there is no legal process, all pipelines should be stopped.

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