XL Pipeline Poses Grave Environmental Risks

by Vins

The keystone pipeline is a project from TransCanada in which they intended to mine out an area in Canada that will be roughly the size of the state of Florida. In this area they intend to find Tar Sands oil in which they will move from Alberta, Canada to the gulf of Texas with a pipeline close to 2,000 miles that stretches across the United States. They have no regard for what this pipeline will cross through, including cities, natural water sources, and other ecosystems throughout the U.S. There are many problems with this pipeline however the biggest one for them right now is whether or not President Obama will approve it because it crosses an international border.

In the initial mining of the Tar Sand Oil they plan to move around 830,000 barrels into the U.S every day. With the emissions being 4 times greater than mining regular oil, the amount of pollution this factory will create is unparallel to any other factories. After refining it they need to separate it from the other material, which means using vast amounts of chemicals and natural water to separate the substance from all the other unneeded materials. The only place to obtain this much water is from surrounding rivers and aquifers. This process will waste roughly 2.4 million barrels of water each day. The substance that would be put into these ponds is known as Bitumen and is much heavier than water. Allowing it to sink into the bottom of the ponds created to hold the Bitumen. However, when it reaches the bottom it starts to get absorbed into the ground and could easily pollute surrounding natural water sources.

The other major problem with this pipeline is the very high probability of spills. The pipeline crosses six U.S. states allowing it plenty of opportunities to contaminate rivers, national parks, and even the Ogallala aquifer which supplies a third of America with drinking water.  The first pipeline built by TransCanada has spilled more than a dozen times in the first year alone, proving that spills with the Keystone Pipeline wouldn’t be unlikely as well. This has also been the main reason that president Obama should chose to deny the access that TransCanada needs to begin building. However, according to Daily Censored, “Obama doesn’t want to take the political hit for losing the jobs that Keystone XL might provide.  He has done little to confront the massive unemployment rate and this might get him in some trouble” (Michael Collins, “Obama Gets A Message – Just Say No to the Keystone XL Pipeline”,  Daily Censored, February 18th, 2013)

Finally, the tar sands oil comes to the factory to be refined; a process that will pollute the air much worse than any conventional oil. With this factory being placed in a low-income residential area it will force these people to live in the pollution such as petroleum coke.  The emissions from this stage of the process will cause heavy smog and could even produce acid rain. In addition to the insane amount of pollution the pipeline produces, it also would devastate the Boreal forests of Alberta where the tar sands oil are. The forests support a great amount of different species, including the endangered caribou. The indigenous population of Alberta is being affected harshly by the pipeline also. They are being forced off their land, and those living downstream have seen rare forms of cancer, lupus, and hyperthyroidism destroy their population. This is a pipeline that would undoubtedly devastate the path it travels across the United States.



Friends of Earth “Keystone XL Pipeline’ http://www.foe.org/projects/climate-and-energy/tar-sands/keystone-xl-pipeline

Michael Collins “Obama Gets A Message – Just Say No to the Keystone XL Pipeline”, Daily Censored; February 18, 2013 http://www.dailycensored.com/obama-gets-a-message-just-say-no-to-the-keystone-xl-pipeline

Student Researchers: Johnathon Radcliffe, Scott C. Wertheimer, John Hermon (Santa Rosa Junior College)

Faculty Evaluator: Susan Rahman (Santa Rosa Junior College)