Unsung Victims of the XL Pipeline

by Larry Powell

It's nothing but another act of criminal negligence. In their coverage of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) into the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, our corporate media have flagrantly ignored the lowly creatures we share Planet Earth with; creatures which will be pushed closer to extinction if this project proceeds.

According to that same EIS, no less than 13 animal species, already declared endangered under federal "laws," "could be impacted" by the proposed project. 

Impacted? They're already endangered! Ah, what the Hell! Let's run 'em down! They don't count anyway! 

Here is the havoc this massive, misguided project will wreck on the plants and animals of our natural world which happen to be in its way.

Remember, the passages below are taken directly from the EIS.

"• Habitat loss, alteration, and fragmentation; 
• Direct mortality during construction and operation, including collision with power lines; 
• Indirect mortality due to stress or avoidance of feeding, and/or reduced breeding success due to exposure to noise and/or increased human activity; and 
• Reduced survival or reproduction due to decreased abundance of food or reduced cover."

Here are some of the unfortunate plants and animals who are guilty of nothing more than that they happen to live, or pass over, the proposed route!

The Whooping Crane

"Whooping cranes could be impacted by collisions with power lines associated with the proposed Project. The majority of the proposed project route crosses the central flyway whooping crane migration corridor in South Dakota and Nebraska, and the Rainwater Basin in south central Nebraska provides whooping crane migration habitat."

Greater Sage-Grouse 

"Approximately 190 miles of the proposed Project route would cross areas with greater sage-grouse habitat in Montana, of which 94 miles are classified as moderate to high-quality habitat for greater sage-grouse."

Western Prairie Fringed Orchid
"The western prairie fringed orchid (Platanthera leucophaea) (l.) is federally listed as threatened, state-listed as threatened in Nebraska, and is a species of conservation concern in South Dakota. The proposed project would pass near known populations of western prairie fringed orchid in Nebraska, and through land where the orchid may potentially occur in South Dakota. Clearing and grading of land associated with construction of the proposed Project (including pipeline and ancillary facilities) may potentially disturb western prairie fringed orchids, and may introduce or expand invasive species that already contribute to the orchid’s decline." 

Photo credit: US Fish and

American Burying Beetle 

"Approximately 50 miles of the proposed 
Project Route in Nebraska would affect American burying beetle habitat; approximately 43 miles in South Dakota would affect suitable habitat for the species. The proposed project could affect, and would be likely to adversely affect the American burying beetle, resulting in incidental takes (unintended death of individual beetles) during construction or operations." 

This lowly creature is already in serious decline due to human activity, likely including - wait for it - pesticide use. As a carrion-eater, it is part of nature's "clean-up crew," an unattractive but essential part of Earth's endless cycle of life and death.

If the corporate media are to be believed, this report "removes a hurdle" in the way of the project. That's hardly surprising. Does anyone seriously believe that other living creatures we share space with on this earth will have any impact whatever on the collective consciousness of the hollow men of Capitol Hill, Parliament Hill or, perhaps least of all, the denizens of those sterile, unforgiving glass towers of the Calgary oil patch?