Controversy has surrounded the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline since its conception over six years ago. It involves a 2,000 mile pipeline to carry crude oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast refineries. Politicians claim that it will bring jobs to our nation, and will help reduce our nation’s need for foreign oil. Now there is a possibility that it won’t happen; the Keystone Pipeline could be going west or east instead of south.
First of all, let’s address the claims of politicians, why the project has been delayed, and the actual environmental impact if construction was completed.
There exists a sliver of truth regarding jobs. Hundreds of workmen will be required to construct the actual pipeline. They will only be temporary jobs. In the refineries themselves, it is doubtful that the number of employees will increase.
Claiming that the oil pumped through the pipeline will reduce our need to import oil from foreign markets is a blatant lie. This form of crude cannot be refined for commercial use in the United States. It would be sold directly from the gulf to foreign markets. The only profits would be for the oil companies themselves.
The danger to the environment is potentially devastating. There have been 23 incidents involving pipelines in the United States in 2014. However, in North Dakota alone 291 leaks went unreported. North Dakota is the second highest oil-producing state behind Texas. Canada’s crude is from tar sands. Tar sands crude is far dirtier and heavier than the present crude which flows through our existing pipelines. The extraction process results in increased levels of carbon dioxide. If constructed the Keystone XL pipeline would carry 830,000 barrels of this dangerous form of crude across the western and central United States daily. The emissions from this crude would be applicable to adding 5.6 million cars to our roads. A single leak could destroy crops, and pollute water resources for years.
Why to the politicians lie to us and continue to lobby for Keystone’s construction? It’s just that; political gain and political support from the oil and gas lobby.
If the pipeline is constructed in their states, they can brag about ‘job creation.’ And the petroleum lobby will be happy to line the wallets of supporters for the Keystone XL with tens of thousands of dollars.
President Obama has decided not to take any action on the pipeline until after the midterm election.
It may become a non-issue. Canada is exploring the possibility of constructing a pipeline going west to the Pacific Ocean. Even more intriguing is building the pipeline east, all the way to St. John, New Brunswick, where there is a refinery.
If they decide to build it to the west, it will be shorter and cheaper than the Keystone XL. There they could load the crude on ships and supply Asia.
If they build to the east, existing smaller pipelines could be joined with new construction. This Keystone Pipeline would travel over 2800 miles, and cost an estimated 10.7 billion U.S. dollars. It would carry one-third more crude than the original proposal.
If you are a believer that crude oil pipelines are safe, do the research. A single breach from a pipeline carrying such enormous amounts of this dangerous tar sands crude could destroy thousands of acres of land and contaminate billions of gallons of underground water, costing taxpayers billions of dollars in damage.
By James Turnage