The Senate approved the Keystone XL Pipeline Thursday by a vote of 62-36, which included nine Democrats. After the Senate bill is merged with the bill initiated from the House of Representatives, it will be sent to the President’s desk where he has promised to veto the legislation. Mr. Obama appears to be the only serious member of our government who is concerned about the destructive possibilities of this unnecessary project.
The vote came after five major pipeline leaks were reported in January alone. The Senate is in denial regarding the dangers of pipelines, and the size and contents of the Keystone present an especially perilous situation. The length of the pipeline coupled with the extraordinary amount of crude passing through it daily is precarious enough; add to it the fact that tar sands crude is more vile than sweet crude, and that it must be pumped under greater pressure and with the use of more heat, a recipe for disaster is complete.
In January a pipeline burst under the Yellowstone River in Montana. Also in January, a pipeline carrying the residue from hydraulic fracking broke in North Dakota; this was downstream from the Montana break, also involving the Yellowstone River. On that very same day another pipeline began leaking 100,000 gallons of crude, also in North Dakota. In West Virginia, a natural gas pipeline exploded; although it caused extensive damage, luckily no one was harmed. Another gas pipeline exploded near Jackson, Mississippi; no one was hurt but the smoke was seen from a weather satellite in space.
Major pipeline breaks are on the rise. In 2014 alone there were 73 major accidents; 87 percent more than 2009. A major break is defined by one of several conditions: A person is killed or hospitalized; the break caused a fire or explosion; the break resulted in more than five barrels of liquid being released into the environment; or the cost of the cleanup exceeds $50,000.
The bottom line in regards to the Keystone Pipeline, is that Congress is simply wasting more time and taxpayer dollars. Because the Keystone crosses international borders, the President has the final say; and he says he will veto the project.
Proponents claim that the Keystone is necessary to eliminate our dependence on foreign oil, and that it will create thousands of jobs. These are both falsehoods. Although the news is often difficult to believe, reports have been frequent that our nation is now the largest petroleum producer in the world; we do not need the Keystone XL. What about the jobs? The only jobs which will be created are temporary; someone has to construct the pipeline.
So why did 62 Senators vote in favor of Keystone’s construction if it is dangerous to the environment; is unnecessary; and does not create full-time employment? It’s always a case of ‘follow the money.’ The Petroleum Industry lobby gives millions of dollars in campaign contributions to Congressmen and Senators each year. Those Senators were voting for themselves; not for the American people.
By James Turnage