Monday, May 2, 2011

Pipeline to Terrorism

This article also appeared on the Operation Free blog ( on 8 May, 2011.

High fuel prices threaten our fragile recovery and, unfortunately, there are people in the world that would love to do just that. Oil is already expensive, despite the fact that right now supply is plentiful and demand weak. Any interruption in the supply of oil now would cause prices to shoot up even higher. Opponents of oil-hungry America and its allies are catching on to this.

The world is crisscrossed with hundreds of thousands of miles of oil pipelines and experts consider them an easy and vulnerable target for terrorist attacks. Their great lengths through harsh terrain make them impossible to adequately protect and if a single break can shut a line down for weeks, imagine what a well-placed explosive device can do.

Just this month, Qaddafi’s forces in Libya attacked rebel-held oilfields there to halt production. There have been multiple insurgent attacks on pipelines in Iraq this year. Yemeni oil production has declined since 2006 due to attacks there and pipelines are a favorite target of the Kurdish PKK rebels in Turkey. Outside the Middle East, there have been multiple militia attacks against lines in Nigeria, a major oil supplier to the U.S., and rebel attacks on oil targets as close to the U.S. as Mexico.

Our own pipelines here in America show the vulnerability as well. In 2002 a drunken Alaskan hunter was convicted for shooting an oil pipeline, one bullet causing a hole that halted flow for three days. In 2006 a break spilled 250,000 gallons across the North Slope. A government report identified the trans-Alaska pipeline, which carries 12% of America’s domestic oil supply, as a major safety concern.

Our continued dependence on oil leaves not only our wallets vulnerable to price spikes, but puts our economy as a whole in danger and remains a threat to our national security. We need to turn off the pipelines for good and move away from oil.