Keystone XL – What are We Fighting For?

Image              Since the State Department’s verdict on Friday my waking and even sleeping hours have been consumed with thoughts of the Keystone Pipeline. On February 17th, 2013 I was front and center with 350.org marching to the White House to show my displeasure the last time a similar report came out. Despite frigid temperatures there was an impressive turnout of people from all over the country. I felt surely someone must have heard us.
Then this report came out, the same as before. Has it fallen on deaf ears? No. Are people ignoring the environmental and climactic impacts? Yes. I do believe those in power are aware of the implications. And I do think they are choosing to overlook them because they believe we have no other choices. The fact that we’re developing the tar sands is admitting defeat. It’s licking the residue in the pot when there’s nothing left.
The more I read about the pipeline, the more pessimistic about it I get. I ask – why are they building this pipeline? Because there is an addiction to oil and dirty energy. Stopping the pipeline is not going to cure this addiction. The truth is – the pipeline is the safest way to get this filth to its destination. It is too dangerous to transport by truck – not to mention the carbon emissions from the trucks. It is too dangerous to transport by rail – the several derailments this past year have proven that. So that leaves a pipeline – which has also proven to be equally as dangerous – there was the spill in a farmer’s wheat field in North Dakota. We are fighting to not transport this filth over our boarder altogether.
The tar sand oil is going to flow (well, it doesn’t flow to begin with, so that’s not really an apt word) no matter what. So what are we fighting for? Today (weather permitting, since we are in the middle of a major snow storm right now, hoping it will end in time) I will head to one of the locations nearest me to once again protest the Keystone Pipeline. Please find a location near you to do the same. I will be there with hopefully hundreds of others fighting the fight to keep the keystone pipeline out of this country.
But I am not so jaded to think that it will not soon be built. The southern portion is already in place. I am still going to resist the northern portion. I want to believe that there is still some people in this nation that we can come together and fight against something. We will fight to show that our nation is above the oil addiction. We are fighting to keep carbon out of our atmosphere – which the State Department’s report DID say is a likely scenario – it could be upwards of 27.4 MMTCO2e annually which is equivalent to the tailpipe emissions from 5.7 million passenger vehicles. We will fight for hope that our president will realize that this is not about politics, but about our future.

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Keystone Pipeline Verdict – A Disgrace

Like many in the environmental movement I was disheartened when I heard the news about the State Department’s report, but not surprised. I expected our government, which is blinded by greed, to not put our planet first. By putting our planet first they would be putting people first. But I have figured out that is not how things are run in society. In modern society they put money first. The cost? Everything – citizens, our children, the Earth, our future.

One just has to look at pictures of the area being developed by the Tarsands to see that there IS an environmental impact. Its desolation and wasteland. At first glance you don’t even see oil – you see sand. Where is this precious black gold that people seek? This used to be a pristine ecosystem of boreal forests. Bears, moose, wolves and deer used to graze over these lands. Migratory birds used to stop over here. Now when they stop over here they land in toxic sludge ponds and die. How can you say there’s no environmental impact?

ImageThe State Department’s report specifically looked at the impact of the Keystone Pipeline would have on climate. I imagine they just completely ignored the impact that the Tarsands already have on climate in their study. Oil sands production emits 3 to 4 times more greenhouse gases than producing conventional crude oil. Without a doubt this makes it one of the world’s dirtiest forms of fuel. It is for this reason that Canada will continue to fail to meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals in the future. It is also ridiculously difficult to extract oil from sand and uses a ton of valuable other resources. While I don’t condone using natural gas as a resource, more than 600 million cubic feet of natural gas are used per day to extract and upgrade the oil from the tar sands. What if we used this elsewhere? It could heat more than 3 million homes every day!

Right now there is a devastating drought in California. There are farmers that were not able to plant crops this year – this is going to affect everyone, not just California. There are people that have to recycle shower water to water plants and garden. It is very serious. But in the Tarsands, they use roughly 170,000,000 cubic meters of water per year to extract bitumen. And that water cannot even be recycled! 95% of the water used in Tarsands is so polluted it has to be put into toxic sludge pits. But little is done to keep these sludge pits away from wildlife – moose, deer, and other animals come to drink from them. Birds come to try and land in them. Anything that comes near them dies. Not only that, they’re not well managed and the toxic waste seeps out into the Athabasca River. But, there is no environmental impact, so they say.

The reason there is no impact is because the oil is going to come no matter what. If it is not coming by pipeline, it will come by rail. Or trucks. And the jobs this pipeline they are promising it will create? A tiny amount of temporary jobs for a year. Permanent? 50. Just 50 permanent jobs. So what is the driving force here? Money. Canada has a 70billion profit to gain from the Tarsands. They will continue to turn a landmass the size of Florida to look like this:

ImageThey say that it will have no climate impact. But it will have an impact. This pipeline is going to be going through people’s homes, people’s farms, and people’s lands. It is going to have environmental impact. Why are we not building this pipeline through populous areas? Why not go down the west coast, or the east coast? Because we are once again giving the low-income people the short end of the stick. And no impact? There’s been more oil spills on land in this last year than ever before. Our government just chooses to keep them quiet. There were over 300 in North Dakota alone. How many in other states? Oh right, we have to stay quiet about that. Saying Keystone XL won’t impact the climate is like saying no single touchdown will impact who wins the Super Bowl. Doesn’t work.

CONTINUE THE FIGHT! There will be vigil with 350.org on Monday February 03, 2014 at 6:00 PM outside the White House

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