Keystone Pipeline Controversy Won’t Go Away



by B. McPherson
The Keystone Pipeline controversy is getting larger rather than dying down. It threatens to become an election issue in the next US presidential elections.  The Keystone Pipeline is proposed to carry heavy oil from the northern Alberta oil sands, south to Texas for refining. Over the course of the pipeline, it would pass over many sensitive environmental regions. There is some oil pipeline infrastructure already in place supplying some areas of the US, but this new route would be more direct. Unfortunately, the route goes through the Nebraska Sand Hills where the crucial aquifer known as the Oglalla Aquifer is near the surface and vulnerable to pollution. For a good map showing the proposed route, refer to the Washington Post offering.

While Canada is going ahead with the development of the massive oil sands, people remain divided within that country. In addition to the Keystone XL Pipeline, a route for another oil pipeline has been proposed through the Great Bear Rainforest to the BC coast.

Environmentalists from many walks of life have demonstrated against the Keystone Pipeline since late August. Many have been arrested in Washington, DC for peaceful civil disobedience(They refused to remain in the middle of a sidewalk). Entertainment figures, Native Americans, young and old are all concerned about the environmental impact of the pipeline itself and also the burning of massive amounts of petroleum.

On the other side of the fence are the great economic boosters that these huge projects generate. Many jobs will be created during a time of high unemployment in the US. Oil patch jobs tend to pay well. Canada is a friendly, stable democracy that can supply large amounts of oil. A greater reliance on a continental supply would lessen US dependence on unstable or unfriendly nations for the product.
The Americans have already started their campaigns for the White House. Whether to continue with the controversial pipeline may well become a deal breaker for many of the voters. Over the next few months the debate is far more likely to heat up than dissipate.

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