Environmental Issues: Keystone XL

There’s been some talk about the Keystone pipeline, and I have been thinking about it some more since the recent train oil spill in Quebec.  I think there is some misinformation out there about the addition to the Keystone Pipeline.

I was going to write a big long story about it to clarify the facts, but I like this version better than anything I would write about it, so you can check it out if you want.


These are my opinions on it right now:

1)  I am not thrilled with the “eminent domain” issues.  It concerns me that land can just be grabbed from private citizens for “the greater good” of putting a pipeline in that not everyone wants.

2) Ultimately having quicker access to the refineries is not going to bring down the price at the pump for gasoline.  Oil goes to a great number of things, gasoline only being a small part of that.

3) The oil that will be flowing in the pipeline is not “American” oil, we don’t have rights to it.  It is Canadian oil, being sold to China.  They are paying us for the ease of transportation and right of way.

4) It will provide 20,000 more jobs, for the short term.  There will be a small amount of long-term jobs added to the US economy as a result, mostly down in Texas refineries.  This is good for Houston, so I won’t complain.

5) The “tar-sands” issue is a little tricky.  I have worries about environmental effects.  The pipeline addition will add 1.2 billion metric tons of carbon pollution to the atmosphere during its 50-year lifespan.  However, if the pipeline doesn’t go through, it’s not like it will stop the production or flow of this “tar-sands” oil.  There is already approval and movement towards a pipeline being built running east to west in Canada.  They don’t need us, necessarily – the oil will still get refined, this way or that way.  Or, if the oil cannot be refined, it would be replaced in the world market by oil from Venezuela, which is even “dirtier”, but who, as a country, is not as friendly with the US.

6) I worry about the safety of the pipelines long-term, about spills and leaks into the ecosystem.  However, leaks and spills can come from trucks and trains carrying the oil from one place to another, just as well as (if not more often) than it can come from a defect in a pipeline carrying it from one place to another.

7) I think the solution eventually is for us to kick the oil habit, but that is not going to happen over the this generation, or the next.  We have a long way to go before we can become independent of oil as an energy source.

Here is a map of the proposed new route.  The current Keystone Pipeline is the purple solid line.  The dotted blue is the Keystone XL proposed route, and the yellow and brown are the additional paths to be added later.


Right now the government has postponed making a decision on this until 2014.  I am not actually that hopeful that the environmentalists will win, although they are my “dog in this fight”.  The environmentalists won before, with Nixon and the Trans-Atlantic pipeline in Alaska, in 1970-1972, but Nixon and the governmental seat found a way to get around them and build that darn pipeline anyway.  That is probably what will happen again.  We’ll see as this momentum continues to build.

I haven’t had much to write about/felt like writing on here lately.  We’ve been busy at home with kids and school and sports.  Hopefully soon I will have some more outdoor adventures to write about.