Monday, March 11, 2013

Keystone: Another Perspective

On March 1, 2013, the U.S. Department of State issued a revised environmental impact statement for a second application for the Keystone XL Pipeline, submitted last May by TransCanada, the pipeline operator. The NY Times article reviews the State Department’s document concerning the environment in the areas surrounding the second proposed route. In short, there are no statements made about ways in which the pipeline could negatively affect the surrounding areas’ environment. Though it makes no policy recommendations or statements of influencing factors on the pipeline’s creation (economy, energy dependence), the lack of evidence on potential hazards to the environment suggests that the pipeline will cause minimal harm, if any at all. The big take away from the second environmental impact report are the changes that exist in the pipeline route. The newly proposed route crosses through three states instead of five and is 875 miles long instead of 1,384. It crosses 261 less surface water bodies and avoids the sensitive area of the Sand Hills completely. [Note that according to the second source, the decrease in mileage from 875 to 1384 is mostly because the company has already built (or is building) the other 500 miles from Nebraska through Oklahoma and Texas.-JM]
I believe the new environmental impact statement will allow the pipeline to gain more advocates and will push President Obama to create the Keystone Pipeline. In the article, those opposed claimed that the pipeline is vital to the extraction of tar sands in Canada and that without it, the tar sands will be preserved. However, I believe that the tar sands will be extracted with or without the Keystone Pipeline. Once the resources are made known, some market will take the opportunity to extract that resource, especially when it is scarce. I don’t support the implementation of the pipeline because it won’t affect U.S. demand, significantly lower the cost of gasoline, or create a significant amount of jobs. The risks associated with the pipeline are much greater than the limited benefits that it could provide our economy with. Especially when TransCanada does not have a good record when it comes to oil spills.
--Lauren Bennett

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