The Gateway To Future Disaster Or To Temporary Prosperity

1451 words - 6 pages

The Keystone XL pipeline crosses “more than 1000 water bodies” such as rivers, streams, aquifers, as well passing by “approximately 2500 water wells” (Swift). This could be a disaster waiting to happen; potential water contamination could raise major ethical concerns for surrounding townsfolk and farmers. The XL extension would extend south east from Alberta, Canada reaching Steele City Nebraska and finally connecting with the pre -existing Keystone pipeline enabling access to the Gulf Coast region. The pipeline itself would be 1,664 miles long and would be expected to transport around 830,000 barrels each day. Despite controversy arising on each side of the debate, both economists and environments skew the available information to support their own goals. Both sides have flaws, but is there one side which is more justified economically, environmentally, and ethically than the other? If the sand oils are not shipped via the Pipeline XL to the Gulf Coast, it will come by train, in greater bulk than it is currently. And if it isn’t refined here in the United States, it may be burned in China where the refining process is not as safe or clean for the environment thus resulting in more greenhouse gas emissions. As previously mentioned, there are also concerns about oil spills, and about potentially contaminated water supplies. Both sides rely on assumptions and predictions, and while oil spills are certain to happen, there may be greater environmental risk and economic loss if the Keystone XL pipeline is not constructed. All of this leads to the question: should the Keystone pipeline XL extension be built?
While the views of the Keystone XL pipeline are varied, it is accepted by both views that fossil fuels and the byproduct greenhouse gases is a real issue. However, the difference is in the belief of how great an environmental influence this pipeline will have. This also originates from fundamental value differences, from that of money and economic prosperity versus potential future environmental concerns (Guggenheim). Both sides must be weighed before hasty judgements are made. James Hansen, a NASA climate scientist made the claim that the Keystone XL pipeline “would be ‘game over’ when it came to the effort to stabilize the environment” (Eilperin). However, another NASA climate scientist, Gavin Schmidt, disagrees this fatalistic view, arguing “There is an urgency to acting but it's not because there's a point of no return” (Herath). Those in opposition to the pipeline claim that this pipeline would encourage further the process of extracting the crude or bitumen which “emits roughly 15 percent more greenhouse gas emissions than the production of the average barrel of crude oil used in the United States” (Eilperin). This is a good point, however it must also be considered whether the refineries in China or other foreign interests would produce more greenhouse gas with dirtier refining methods.
The State Department coincides with this, stating in...

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