COMMENTARY He Says // She Says Keystone XL Pipeline
Adrian Saucedo On February 17, protesters gathered in Washington D.C. to stand against TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline project, a plan that if approved, would carry oil from Canada to Texas. There have been demonstrations here in Chicago as well. Protesters believe the energy decisions of today will have negative long term consequences and urge President Obama to block the Keystone XL pipeline project before it’s too late. The major concern for protesters is global warming. Although it is believed that humankind is mostly responsible for climate change, there is no evidence that stopping construction of the Keystone XL pipeline will have any impact on global climate change. The United States has been carrying Canadian oil for a long time, and it is becoming our primary source of energy. The less we rely on the Middle East and Venezuela for oil, the better it is for America. Stopping the Keystone XL pipeline will neither stop global warming nor America’s oil consumption. The less money goes to the Middle East, the better our nation will be in terms of national security and foreign policy. Projects such as the Keystone XL pipeline offer opportunities for the American economy to grow. If we are not going to stop our oil consumption, then why not have it more accessible to us instead of sending millions and millions of dollars to the enemy nations?
Instead, attention should be diverted in how to be more fuel efficient, so that we don’t need to rely on projects such as the Keystone XL project. People should be better educated in how to save energy and adopt more eco-friendly habits. But if we are not doing that, what is wrong with using the resources immediately available to us? Thousands of jobs will be created with this project and although the majority of the job openings will be temporary, in this economic crisis temporary jobs are highly valued. It is also worth mentioning that Canada is our ally and partnering with them in this project is of the nation’s interest both economically and diplomatically. If environmental safety is the biggest concern for protesters, they should know that TransCanada has taken the necessary steps to ensure environmental safety. As they have pointed out before, they abide by the regulations for environmental safety. Just as environmentalists fight to protect the environment, it is also in the best interest of the government and companies such as TransCanada to ensure safe environmental practices because it yields them more money. By properly managing energy resources and infrastructure, the companies make more money by gaining the trust of their customers, the government, and the general public. If the Keystone XL pipeline project will encourage our independence from Middle Eastern oil, promote our nation’s economy, favor our foreign policy and energy security by partnering with our neighbor and ally, why oppose the project? While it is true that more efforts should be put forward to reduce our reliance on oil for energy, it is also true that we cannot do all at once. Global warming is an important subject that needs to be addressed as a priority. But the Keystone XL pipeline project will not have a significant impact on global warming. Instead of investing our energy to oppose this project, environmentalists should propose alternative sources of energy and allow the Keystone XL pipeline project because for now, it is in the nation’s interest to invest in the project that although temporarily will bring some economic relief to thousands of Americans. v
Stacy Zamskaya The controversial Keystone XL Pipeline has been at the forefront of debate among environmentalists and labor supporters for the past four years. The 1,700 mile pipeline is seen as both a pathway towards North American energy independence and a dangerous step in increasing global warming. TransCanada’s Keystone XL plans to carry up to 830,000 barrels per day of tar sands oil – one of the most polluting and carbon-intensive fuels in the world – from Alberta, Canada to the US Gulf Coast refineries, located more than two thousand miles away. The pipeline, which would cross six U.S. states, would force the U.S. to promote the consumption of dirty fuels and increase oil mining operations in Canada. The existence of this pipeline would increase the use of tar sands crude oil and contribute to an environmental disaster in both the domestic and international climates. The Keystone XL Pipeline is argued to create a decrease in the US dependence on foreign oil, but that is not the case. The main use of the pipeline will be to transport Canadian oil to U.S. refineries, with the end product being sent for export in overseas markets. The Gulf Coast will refine the crude oil into diesel and other products to export to Europe and Latin America, with the majority of the refined oil never reaching U.S. drivers’ gas tanks. In order to improve American energy efficiency, the focus should be placed on reducing the demand for oil through fuel efficient standards, not through the building of a new pipeline. At the same time, it is important to re-
alize that the Keystone XL Pipeline will further increase the gas prices for U.S. consumers. The pipeline will drain the Midwestern refineries of cheap Canadian crude oil into the exporting refineries, thus reducing the current oversupply of Canadian crude oil and removing its price discounting. Keystone XL will cause the current price of heavy crude to increase to that of imported crude oil. Canadian profits are expected to rise from the current $2 billion to $3.9 billion with the building of the pipeline. As a result, this resource price increase will cause an increase in per-gallon prices of around 20 cents in the Midwest. Another matter to take into consideration pertains to the danger of the Keystone XL Pipeline for the environment of the Midwest. Recalling the infamous BP oil spill, many skeptics ask what would happen if a spill of similar scale occurred within the American heartland. The pipeline would cross through areas such as the Missouri and Niobrara Rivers, walleye fisheries, and much of the U.S. farmland. The U.S. Pipeline Safety Administration has not concluded the safety properties of tar sands on such areas, bringing concern for the safety of the American people and wildlife. Finally, it is important to note on the impacts of the pipeline on the American environment. The Keystone XL Pipeline would contribute to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions, considering the fact that the extraction and refinement of oil sands produce a higher quantity of greenhouse gases than conventional oil. The EPA estimates that throughout the pipeline’s estimated fifty year lifetime, the project could yield up to 1.15 billion tons of greenhouse gases. The Keystone XL Pipeline project poses many threats to the American public, as well as our already damaged climate. The focus should be turned towards developing more efficient fuel systems, such as green energy. Renewable, sustainable, and clean energy sources will prevent many of the consequences that come with the construction of new pipelines. It is time for politicians to decide whether the safety of its people and environment outweigh the marginal profits of a climate-destroying crude oil highway. v