The New Madrid earthquake fault resides like a mighty dragon under the proposed Keystone (KXL) tar sands oil pipeline. KXL was rejected in November 2015 by President Obama after seven years of strong opposition from indigenous people in Canada and farmers throughout Nebraska, together with resistance from states which would be invaded by Canadian oil extractors.
TRANSCANADA and fossil fuel industry supporters are literally “moonscaping” 57,000 square miles of pristine Canadian land. Louisiana is also 57,000 square miles. Four million citizens of this impoverished state would strongly resist any “super-corporation” from destroying beautiful farm land or marsh in search of a mineral. Would one of Louisiana’s 64 parishes (counties) allow a KXL travesty to occur in this energy state? Before Rupert Murdoch purchased NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC in November 2015, the reliable science magazine published shocking articles with photos of how Alberta is being destroyed by tar sands extraction. What will become of NG’s journalistic integrity after a Murdoch takeover?
A US State Department hearing was held at Port Arthur, Texas in 2013. The imbalance was daunting. There were 500 Texas politicians, oil industry enthusiasts and pipeline workers carrying placards in support of KXL. Hundreds of zealots were overwhelming a mere 50 or so “dreamers” who expressed whimpers of resistance to the TRANSCANADA intrusion. One of the KXL whistle blowers brought disheartening photos of pristine boreal forests in Alberta, Canada that were totally destroyed. A pipeline worker who was paid thousands of dollars weekly to keep quiet, broke away from the allure of money to speak of fourteen known leaks in the existing pipeline within one year. Testimonies lasted from 4PM until 10:30PM. One obvious geological item was not considered.
Never did I hear a word that day in Port Arthur, nor have I ever read of one totally certain geological fact that the New Madrid fault, six times larger than the San Andreas, is exactly within the pathway of KXL’s journey down to the Gulf of Mexico. Millions have vivid photos or oral testimonies of California quakes, dating back to the devastating San Francisco tragedy of April 18, 1906, then forward to more recent tremors that destroyed California expressways in a vulnerable tectonic region.
Neither opponents nor supporters of KXL bring forth New Madrid quake history of December 16, 1811, one moment when Earth revolted with an event that forced the Mississippi to flow north. The quake was felt over 1000 miles away, ringing church bells in Boston, tickling the soon-to-be “World’s Financial Center” in New York City, then knifing down to frighten residents of Charleston, South Carolina. The New Madrid fault continued with strong aftershocks well into 1812. Seismologists are concerned about the sleeping New Madrid fault. The US Geological Survey (USGS) believes there is a 7 to 10 percent possibility of another quake within the next fifty years. Why try to ignore nature?
No matter how well a KXL pipeline is constructed, the New Madrid quake which reversed Mark Twain’s “Big Brown god” and rang bells in Boston would splinter such a project. Highly polluting tar sands oil would then quickly ruin the Ogalalla aquifer upon which Midwestern states depend for survival.
Apart from KXL and the determination of TRANSCANADA, tar sands burning anywhere in the world will assure carbon dioxide levels remain close to 400 parts per million (ppm) making global warming worse. Children will benefit from our wisdom or lack of, in the present tar sands debate.