Much to the disappointment of environmental activists nationwide, the Obama administration has given Transcanada the go ahead to construct the 1,711 mile Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry heavy oil from Canada to Oklahoma and all the way down to the Gulf Coast in Texas. In a rather ambitious statement, the administration has concluded that not only will the pipeline provide a more secure source of energy, but that there won’t be any significant damage to the environment.
The Obama administration dismissed criticism from environmental advocates concerned with the devastating impact the pipeline stands to have on the environment; especially granted the possibility of a leak or rupture in the 36-inch diameter pipeline. Many are also concerned about how the pipeline will, “prolong the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels, threaten sensitive lands and wildlife and further delay development of clean energy sources.”
Unfortunately, these grave warnings have fallen on deaf ears. The State Department is backing TransCanada, claiming that the oil giant has “reduced the risks of an accident to an acceptable level and that the benefits of importing oil from a friendly neighbor outweighed the potential costs.”
Given the recent conflicts in the middle east, that might very well be true, and it does make sense diplomatically. But concerning the environment, the facts state otherwise. As we previously announced, construction of the pipeline would actually tear apart miles of land in the U.S, and would require Canada to double its tar sands production, destroying boreal forests while emitting high levels of greenhouse gas emissions – even more than traditional oil production.
That isn’t the only bad news. A recent New York Times op – ed piece further explains: “… a new report from Canada’s environmental ministry shows how great the impact of the tar sands will be in the coming years, even with cleaner production methods.
It projects that Canada will double its current tar sands production over the next decade to more than 1.8 million barrels a day. That rate will mean cutting down some 740,000 acres of boreal forest — a natural carbon reservoir. Extracting oil from tar sands is also much more complicated than pumping conventional crude oil out of the ground. It requires steam-heating the sands to produce a petroleum slurry, then further dilution. One result of this process, the ministry says, is that greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas sector as a whole will rise by nearly one-third from 2005 to 2020.”