“It’s going to get built”

by lizard

In an interview with Canadian media last year, Brain Schweitzer explained that the Keystone XL Pipeline is not currently being built because of jackasses. Specifically, the jackasses in Washington:

Montana’s governor says the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta’s oil sands to the Gulf Coast will eventually be built and he blames the delay on “jackasses” in Washington who have only recently discovered the issue.

“Blah, blah, blah, Washington, D.C., politics. If you want to get something a) not done and b) cussed and discussed, send it to Washington, D.C.,” Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat, said in an interview with The Canadian Press. “It’s going to get built.

The anticipation for Schweitzer’s announcement that he’s charging into the race for Baucus’ seat is getting almost giddy. There is immense pressure from Montana Democrats to enlist Schweitzer, wallop Republicans, then send Montana’s coal cowboy to join an institution he regularly disparaged.

Does Brian acknowledge any legitimacy to those expressing their concerns about the pipeline project? From the interview:

“Ninety per cent of these jackasses that are complaining about the Keystone pipeline in Washington, D.C., one year ago wouldn’t have even known where the Keystone was. While we were doing the heavy lifting here in Montana and in South Dakota and in Kansas and Oklahoma … in Washington, D.C. … all these great defenders had never heard of Keystone before.”

If empty rhetoric is heavy lifting, then Brian Schweitzer really got a good workout when he went all populist for the cameras in the wake of Exxon’s pipeline rupture which bled 44,000 gallons of oil into the Yellowstone River. John Adams, in a post at the Lowdown, put Schweitzer’s barking in the broader context it deserved:

Gov. Brian Schweitzer has taken a tough public stance against ExxonMobil in the days following the 44,000 gallon Yellowstone River oil spill. Schweitzer has said he’ll be on Exxon “like smell on skunk” and that the Yellowstone River won’t be clean, “until Montana says it’s clean.” Schweitzer has publically accused Exxon officials of not being transparent, directing security guards to keep the press away from the unified command center, and not being honest about the true nature of the spill. He’s said that the company’s interests “are not aligned with Montana’s interest,” and that ExxonMobil officials’ “primary goal here was to limit the liability to the shareholders, not to be straightforward with the details of the spill and subsequent cleanup.”

One Politico headline initially proclaimed that “Montana gov has boot on neck of ExxonMobil,” though the headline was recently changed to somewhat less hyperbolic “Montana gov on ExxonMobil like ‘smell on a skunk.’”

Many environmental groups – including representatives from the National Wildlife Federation on a conference call to reporters last week — have lauded Schweitzer for his hard-line approach to dealing with ExxonMobil during the disaster.

But others have accused Schweitzer of talking out of both sides of his mouth on the issue. They cite Schweitzer’s ardent support for coal, oil and gas development in Montana, his backing of ExxonMobil’s plan to truck more than 200 massive Korean-built tar sands processing modules across the state into Canada, and his support for Keystone XL pipeline, which would pipe Canadian tar sands crude (the same type of crude that fouled the Kalamazoo River when an Enbridge Energy pipeline burst there last year) from the Montana-Canada border to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast.

If you want to read more about why the Keystone Pipeline is such a terrible idea, I wrote this post back in March, after the Missoulian printed their very pro-pipeline editorial.


  1. d.g.

    I’m not terribly smart…..but I credit myself for having seen Schweitzer for the blow-hard he is……before he became who he now thinks he is.

  2. Big Swede

    Soooo….it’s a better idea to transfer millions of barrels of crude multiple times across the Yellowstone and other watersheds via railcars which can derail?

    • lizard19

      the Canadian bitumen can be transported across Canada for export. there’s no need to move it through Montana at all. also, because it’s “bitumen”, when the spills with this nasty shit happens, those corporations shipping it don’t have to pay into the fund that helps clean up spills, because “bitumen” is not technically considered “oil”.

      • Big Johansson

        Yeah, and they “can” put it in airplanes and fly it over the North Pole.

        Sorry Liz, least cost and least new construction routing puts it across the northern plains to an existing safe pipeline and refineries which are able to refine bitumen.

        A northwestern Canadian pipeline/rail line/highway system endangers more rivers, lakes, streams, wilderness and national parks. Not to mention could possibly impact southern flowing watersheds in northern MT.

        • Big Johansson

          Besides I thought you guys were against “climate change”.

          The State Department, which has completed more than 15,000 pages of environmental review on the proposed pipeline over the years, said in a draft report this spring that the project was unlikely to cause significant environmental impact to most resources along the planned route. The report also said other options to move the oil from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries, such as trucks or rail cars, would be far worse for climate change.

          Read more: http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/u-s-house-passes-gop-bill-to-speed-keystone-xl/article_94d0e628-77f7-5c27-a87b-1ede1fe57ab5.html#ixzz2X6ejXA65

        • But Johansson, those aren’t OUR rivers, you see. It’s the same kind of environmentalism that says we need to keep immigrants away from OUR environment, or factories from polluting OUR air. If you admit that Canada will develop the tar sands regardless of whether we build Keystone or not, the argument against the pipeline becomes mere NIMBY environmentalism, and all the pettiness that comes with it.

          Of course, if you believe the lack of the pipeline will make the tar sands uneconomical, then stopping the pipeline is critically important, as the tar sands will probably have a disastrous emissions effect (a strategy aimed at rendering the tar sands uneconomical, however, would be severely at odds with a policy opposed to natural gas exploitation…)

          • Big Johansson

            I get it, the Snake, Columbia, Kootenay, Okanogan, Missouri, Skagit, Yaak, Milk,..etc are not our rivers.

          • Matthew Koehler

            Mr. Downhour has set off the Straw Man Alarm! I mean, seriously, PW, how many “environmentalists” or environmental groups advocate and work towards immigration issues the way you lay them out? Is it more than a handful of people out of hundreds of millions of people who think of themselves as “environmentalists?” And please find me some traditional “environmental” groups that support what you seem to claim so many support in terms of immigration issues.

            And what’s with those damn petty NIMBY environmentalists saying we need to keep factories from polluting OUR air….Who the fuck do these enviros think they are anyway? Everyone knows factories should be able to do and dump whatever the fuck they want, right?

            • Big Johansson

              Factories don’t dump.

              Trucks and trains do.

            • Mr. Koehler:

              I’m really objecting to one sentence by lizard, one which I hope was typed in the heat of the moment and was not sincere:

              “the Canadian bitumen can be transported across Canada for export. there’s no need to move it through Montana at all. ”

              This is no less less petty than asking the Mexicans stay in Mexico for the sake of our environment. Admitting that the pipeline is the least environmentally dangerous method of transport, but still opposing it because it runs through Montana, not British Columbia, is petty and destructive. I hope that’s not the actual position of MT environmentalists – because like a said, it’s a worthy fight if by fighting the pipeline we can stop the tar sands in general.

              To oppose the pipeline in Montana in favor of some other method that uses more fuel and spills more bitumen is irrational NIMBYism at its petty worst – precisely like advocating closing the border to Mexicans don’t ruin our wilderness, or supporting the WTO so that we can move our polluting factories the China. I’m aware mainstream environmentalists don’t support these measures – that’s the point. if we can see beyond our own backyard when it comes to these issues, why are we still talking only about the effect the tar sands could have on Montana?

              • lizard19

                I’m highlighting the US route is not the necessity it’s being sold as. why do you think Canadian routes haven’t been pushed by TransCanada? because of emphatic opposition from Canadians. I have confidence Canadians won’t be as easy to pushover as Americans are.

              • Matthew Koehler

                Wow, PW, you even managed to get a few more Enviro Straw Men into that response. For example, please name the individual environmentalists or enviro groups that are supposedly, as you seem to claim, “supporting the WTO so that we can move our polluting factories to China?”

                Funny, but I seem to recall something about 50,000 + people from the environmental movement, labor movement, social justice movement, etc taking to the streets in Seattle on November 30, 1999 to fight the WTO.

                Yet, you are trying to tell us there are prominent environmentalists or environmental groups out there supporting the WTO? That’s ridiculous and totally false. I’d challenge you to do a little better job of coming up with factual examples to build your arguments around….especially in what appears to be your on-going effort to bring down the greenies. Thanks.

              • ” I’m aware mainstream environmentalists don’t support these measures – that’s the point.”

                I know the environmental movement doesn’t support the WTO – that’s why it makes such a great analogy. Demanding that dangerous oil be moved dangerously through Canada is no different than demanding that dangerous coal be burned in China. Almost no environmentalists support the latter – why, then, would they fall behind the former?

                I hope lizard is right, and that Canadians would oppose the transport of tar sands bitumen through their own country. But then, I would have hoped that Canadians would have put the kabosh on the whole tar sands project long ago. They still could,I suppose.

              • lizard19

                I will look forward to the critical post authored by yourself taking Schweitzer to task for supporting this destructive tar sand pipeline.

  3. lizard19

    apparently some Democrats think the only hope to retain Max’s seat is Brian Schweitzer. is the bench really that shallow, MT Democrats?

    • There are no doubt very good potential Senators in Montana, but I don’t see how they could win in the current environment. If Schweitzer doesn’t run, the Democratic candidate will have to do much better than Gillan did against Daines. Daines (or whoever, but really, probably Daines) will be better funded, have more name recognition, and be closer ideologically to most Montanans than almost any candidate. As we can safely say that a majority of the MT electorate found Tester to be too liberal, I don’t see how someone more progressive than Tester, with less money and less name recognition, is going to win a majority of the vote, and I feel like Republicans will have a better strategy for defeating the Libertarian competition this time.

    • Another scenario would be Schweitzer versus Christie in a populist mano et mano presidential race. Sure wouldn’t be dull.

    • Maybe some Democrats think he’d be the most likely Democratic to win. Just saying that’s a bit more plausible.

      • lizard19

        and they’re probably right.

        if Brian says no, Don, who would you like to see get the nomination?

  4. Eric

    I’m not convinced that Gov B.S. is their best candidate – BUT – I agree with most here that he is the one that the Montana Dems would like to nominate.

  5. I wouldn’t be so sure that Canadians will block any pipelines. Interesting piece from Foreign Policy seems to argue otherwise:
    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/06/24/oh_canada

  6. Jack Ruby

    Didn’t the British Columbia provincial govt just reject a tar sands pipeline? I seem to recall this being related to the keystone in some way but Im not a full time environmentalist so im honestly not sure of the answer. Koehler take a break from your personal attacks and educate us on the ramifications of this decision.

    • Matthew Koehler

      Sorry Jack, but I don’t see anything I’ve written above that comes close to “personal attacks.” I also thought Lizard provided some good thoughts on the “ramifications of this decision.” Thanks.

  1. 1 Montana at a Environmental Crossroads | 4&20 blackbirds

    […] the coal cowboy, Brian Schweitzer, sees the populist opportunity to rail against a big oil company when the inevitable oil spills happen to jewels of our Treasure State like the Yellowstone […]

  2. 2 Ryan Zinke and Jon Tester Agree: Build that Pipeline! | 4&20 blackbirds

    […] People who are actually concerned about the impacts of this project continue to have an uphill battle in messaging the realities of what this pipeline will mean for Montanans and for the Earth’s climate. It doesn’t help that our local newspaper shills for this project and our former Governor enjoys eloquently blaming delays on “jackasses” in Washington. […]




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