What is the Keystone XL Pipeline?
The Keystone XL pipeline is a proposed 1,400-mile pipeline that would transport tar sands oil from the Canadian tar sands to the Gulf of Mexico. The southern leg is currently being constructed in the face of massive local opposition in Texas.
What is Tar Sands Oil?
Tar sands are a particularly toxic crude oil whose production process emits three times as many greenhouse gases as conventionally used oil. The extraction of tar sands oil entails an intensive process of burning natural gas in order to generate enough heat to melt the oil out of the sands. Extraction also requires massive clear cutting of Canada’s Boreal Forrest, one of the biggest carbon sinks in the northeast.
Why Oppose the KXL Pipeline?
There are a myriad of reasons to oppose the expansion of the already-existing Keystone system.
Tar sands, tar sands pipelines and related issues are vast and complex with literally thousands of reports and articles on the subjects. Below is a distilled list of the ten reasons you should oppose this pipeline project, updated from its original composition by the Tar Sands Blockade.
1. CLIMATE CHANGE – NASA’s leading climate scientist, Dr. James Hansen has called the Keystone XL pipeline “a fuse to the largest carbon bomb on the planet.” Hansen has said that if all the carbon stored in the Canadian tar sands is released into the earth’s atmosphere it would mean “game over” for the planet. Further, Canada’s environmental ministry projects it will cut down some 740,000 acres of boreal forest – a natural carbon reservoir – in order to extract tar sands oil.
2. SPILLS – All pipelines spill. According to TransCanada the Keystone 1 pipeline was predicted to spill once every seven years. It spilled 12 times in its first year and it has spilled more than 30 times over its lifetime. The Keystone XL pipeline is built to spill, and when it does it will have a devastating effect upon employment and the economy, according to Cornell University.
The tar sands oil firm Enbridge ignored warning signs for more than five years along its 6B Line, and when it spilled in July of 2010 in Michigan’s Kalamazoo River it caused the most damaging onshore oil spill in US history.
3. EMINENT DOMAIN ABUSE – TransCanada has intimidated landowners along the pipeline route into signing contractual agreements for their land. TransCanada fraudulently steals land from private citizens through eminent domain.
A recent Texas Supreme Court case ruled that the application process for common carrier status, the status that allows private companies to seize property, does not conclusively establish eminent-domain power.
TransCanada has indicated that up to 700,000 gallons of tar sands crude could leak out of the Keystone XL pipeline without triggering its real time leak-detection system.
4. WATER CONTAMINATION – The Keystone XL pipeline threatens Texas’ Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer, which supplies drinking water to more than 12 million people living across 60 counties in drought-stricken East Texas.
The pipeline’s cross-border section also threatens the Ogallala Aquifer, the largest aquifer in the western North American region, upon which millions of people and agricultural businesses depend for drinking water, irrigation and livestock watering.
5. THE JOBS MYTH: KEYSTONE XL WILL DESTROY MORE JOBS THAN IT CREATES – According the Cornell University’s Global Labor Institute, the pipeline project will actually destroy more jobs than it creates.
While proponents of the Keystone XL keep repeating the mantra of job creation in the media, it has become clear that the numbers they continue to project are patently false.
Far more jobs could be created by the development of a clean energy economy and infrastructure.
6. GAS PRICES – The Keystone XL pipeline will drive up gas prices, not lower them, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.
7. TAR SANDS FOR EXPORT – TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline will not reduce American dependence on foreign oil. The pipeline will carry tar sands from Alberta, Canada to refineries in Port Arthur, Tex. to be sold on the global market to the highest bidder. This is a for-profit for export pipeline.
8. THE PIPELINE VIOLATES TRIBAL SOVEREIGNTY – The Indigenous Environmental Network has drafted the Mother Earth Accord with traditional treaty councils to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline and preserve the integrity of First Nations and tribal lands across Canada and the Untied States.
9. UNDISCLOSED TAR SANDS DILUTANTS – TransCanada refuses to disclose a comprehensive analysis of its mixture of chemical dilutants used to transport the otherwise viscous tar sands oil through the pipe, as well as human health and environmental risks associated with this secret mixture.
The Pipeline Hazardous Material Safety Administration told Congress that pipeline regulations were not designed for raw tar sands crude, that regulators had not yet evaluated what measures would be necessary to ensure that raw tar sands pipelines could be built and operated safely, and that PHMSA had not been involved in the environmental review.
10. FRAUDULENT ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW – The Environmental Impact Statement done of the Keystone XL pipeline was conducted by the State Department, not the EPA. Controversy erupted last fall over Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s ties to one of TransCanada’s top lobbyists, Paul Elliot. Elliot was one of Clinton’s top campaign officials during her 2008 presidential bid. The EIS found that the pipeline would have minimal impact on the environment, failing to properly analyze direct, indirect and cumulative impacts of the pipeline project.
The Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement released on March 1 was also written by a contractor with ties to several other oil industry giants. The document minimized the risks and impact of spills, and failed to properly acknowledge the impact of the pipeline on climate change despite repeated warnings from the International Energy Agency that the construction of new fossil fuel infrastructure like Keystone XL is locking us into runaway global warming.
The “Gulf Coast Project” or southern portion of the Keystone XL does not have its own environmental review despite the fact that many issues unique to Texas and Oklahoma, such as wild fires and drought conditions, have yet to be analyzed.