We are currently waiting for the final word on the approval or disapproval for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and I’m feeling a bit like Erin Brockovich. This is a no brainer. Here are forty reasons why this pipeline should be rejected once and for all. Feel free to share widely.
- The production of tar sands oil is environmentally destructive and contributes to climate change. Tar sands oil is a very dirty form of oil–the most polluting form of oil on the planet, with far higher emissions than conventional crude. Our top climate scientist, Dr. James Hansen at NASA, has said that processing tar sands oil would mean “game over” for the climate.
- A significant amount of dirty material is left over after refining that gets made into petroleum coke (petcoke). Petcoke is used as a replacement for coal. Petcoke is dirtier and cheaper than coal. The pipeline would bring the worst of dirty energy down the pipe and through the United States onto final markets for export.
- We absolutely have to put a cap on the amount of new fossil fuel infrastructure and new fossil fuels that we are burning. The latest climate science from the Potsdam Institute in Germany says we have to leave at least two-thirds and probably more like four-fifths of the existing fossil fuel reserves in the world in the ground to avoid climate disaster.
- Keystone XL is a fuse to the largest carbon bomb on the planet, the Canadian tar sands.
- The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline puts our land and precious water supplies at risk. A previous tar sands pipeline spilled 17 times in its first year of operation.
- Overwhelming scientific evidence warns of the potentially devastating results of mining, refining and burning the tar sands–pollution of air, land and water, and excessive climate changing greenhouse gas emissions.
- There are grave environmental dangers of running a pipeline through natural areas, over aquifers on which millions depend, and near U.S. residents’ homes. The environmental dangers are so great that Canada has been unable to persuade its citizens to allow a pipeline through its own territory to the Pacific coast.
- It is morally wrong to proceed with a project that has been proven to be harmful to humanity at a time when we should be moving to renewable energy and learning to live more lightly on the earth.
- The pipeline is not a political bargaining chip to trade for other environmental measures. No deal–no matter how wonderful it sounds–could compensate for the environmental damage the construction of the pipeline would cause. Extracting and burning oil in the Alberta oil sands would mean game over for global climate.
- The production of tar sands violates one of the rights of all people on earth—the right to a safe and clean environment, as stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
- The pipeline would run through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and our farmland and water.
- Do we want our country to look like Mayflower, Arkansas? NO! Our beautiful country is not a servant or slave for environmentally destructive Canadian tar sands oil.
- Evan Vokes, an expert in pipeline welding, is an ex-employee of TransCanada (the Canadian company leading the proposal to send tar sands oil via the Keystone XL pipeline to the Gulf Coast). He states that TransCanada has a “culture of noncompliance and coercion, with deeply entrenched business practices that ignored legally required regulations and codes and carries significant public safety risks.”
- Tar sands oil (bitumen) is dangerous. Bitumen has the consistency of peanut butter. To get it through pipelines, liquid chemicals must be added to thin it. Read about it in the NY Times.
- What we should be doing, rather than looking for ways to extend and continue our fossil-fuel dependent lifestyle, is investing time and energy into building renewables, while there’s still the energy available to build wind turbines and solar panels.
- If it’s wrong to wreck the planet, it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage.
- The pipeline would allow increased production of one of the dirtiest, most polluting forms of oil.
- Tar sands oil is not only difficult, costly and energy-intensive to produce but also dirtier and more corrosive than conventional oil.
- Leaks and spills threaten rivers, aquifers and communities all along the route.
- From the US EPA web site: The extent of future climate change depends on what we do now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The more we emit, the larger future changes will be.
- From the US EPA web site: Past and present-day greenhouse gas emissions will affect climate far into the future.
- From the US EPA web site: Areas of the Southeast and Southwest currently experience an average of 60 days per year with a high temperature above 90°F. These areas are projected to experience 150 or more days a year above 90°F by the end of the century, under a higher emissions scenario. In addition to occurring more frequently, these very hot days are projected to be about 10°F hotter at the end of this century than they are today, under a higher emissions scenario.
- We are currently at 400 PPM of atmospheric CO2. The safe range is 350 PPM. Spewing more CO2 into the atmosphere by producing tar sands oil would guarantee the demise of humanity.
- This is what’s happening in Canada: The landscape is dead across a broad expanse of northern Alberta. It has been poisoned by a huge spill of 9.5 million litres of toxic waste from an oil and gas operation. This is the third major leak in the region. Every plant and tree died in the area touched by the spill.
- Claims that the pipeline would employ tens or even hundreds of thousands of people are not true. A Cornell University study concludes the pipeline would kill more jobs than it would create, by reducing investment in the clean energy economy.
- Producing synthetic crude oil from tar sands generates three times the global warming pollution of conventional crude production.
- Extracting tar sands bitumen – a low-grade, high-sulfur crude oil that must be extensively refined to be turned into fuel – uses vast amounts of energy and water. In a time when drought is striking all over the globe and likely to get worse thanks to climate change, do we really want to use water to produce climate change generating tar sands oil???
- This pipeline was never in America’s national interest. Clean energy and fuel efficiency is the path forward for economic and energy security in America – not another tar sands pipeline.
- Tar sands oil pipelines are a hazard. Compared with more conventional crude oil, they operate at higher temperatures, which have been linked to increased corrosion. These pipelines also have to flow at higher pressures that may contribute to rupture as well.
- Tar sands oil is the most viscous, sulfurous and acidic form of oil produced today. Pipelines in the upper Midwest that routinely carry oil from tar sands have spilled 3.6 times more oil per pipeline mile than the U.S. average.
- There is no reason to trust oil companies when they say pipelines are safe when there’s been spill after spill after spill.
- Even brand-new pipelines can spring a leak: TransCanada’s Keystone I Pipeline, which began carrying tar sands oil from Alberta to the U.S. Midwest in 2010, has already had 14 different leaks.
- Here are just some of the areas where oil pipeline leaks have occurred in the US:
Kalamazoo, Michigan July 2010
Brampton, North Dakota May 7, 2011
Bendena, Kansas May 29, 2011
Mayflower, Arkansas March 29, 2013
Doniphan, Missouri April 26, 2013
- A 2010 pipeline spill that dumped dilbit into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River is still being cleaned up almost three years later.
- Keystone XL would have to spill more than 375,000 gallons of tar sands a day — or 1.5 percent of its 830,000 barrel capacity – – before its currently planned internal spill-detection systems would trigger an alarm, according to the U.S. State Department. That means the spill detection system for the Keystone XL would not have detected the recent tar sands spill in Mayflower, Arkansas that spilled 375,000 gallons.
- Crude oil typically contains more than 1,000 chemicals, many of them hazardous to humans. Of particular concern is benzene–increased exposure is known to cause leukemia and neurological problems.
- Oil spills release hundreds of different volatile compounds. After spills, people complain of headaches, nausea and respiratory problems.
- To avoid noncancerous blood disorders, the EPA recommends that people be exposed to less than 9 ppb per day over the course of a lifetime. During the Michigan spill, air monitoring equipment measured benzene readings in the nearby community that ranged from less than 50 ppb to 200 ppb. Data gathered directly over patches of spilled oil showed benzene concentrations of more than 6,000 ppb.
- If the Keystone XL pipeline is approved, the section that runs through Nebraska will cross the Ogallala aquifer, which supplies drinking water for eight states as well as 30 percent of the nation’s irrigation water.
- Instead of remaining on top of a body of water, as most conventional crude oil does, bitumen gradually sinks to the bottom, where normal cleanup techniques and equipment are of little use. Meanwhile, benzene and other chemicals that had been added to liquefy the bitumen evaporate into the air.