It is only April, and so far there have already been three oil spills in the US. In 2013 there were six oil spills in the US and those were just the major ones. Every day, oil is spilled into our environment through retrieving and transporting processes. We live in an era where the world is changing. The claims about global climate change aren’t just false allegations anymore, they are scientifically backed with all the evidence pointing to a need for change. The world is on the verge of environmental collapse. We, the people of the Earth can either chose to change our ways to save our planet or continue to be stubborn and use fossil fuels that constantly emit carbon dioxide into the air.
Currently, with the need for more renewable energy sources being more vital than ever before, one would expect to see governments stepping up and leading the way to make not only their countries better, but the world as a whole. However, that is not the case in the United States. When Obama came to office, he advocated for advancements in renewable energy. He recognized the fact that global climate change must be stopped. In December 2013, Obama ordered agencies to increase the use of renewable energy. Now, it may seem that he is following through with what he said, but if that is so, why is he even considering the construction of the Keystone XL Oil Pipeline?
The Keystone XL Oil Pipeline, if implemented, would be an oil pipeline that would run from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf Coast of Texas. It would cover over 2,000 miles of land. Currently, there already is a pipeline, but in 2008, the Canadian oil company TransCanada proposed an extension of the pipeline. Supporters of the pipeline say that it will help the economy in the US because it will increase jobs. Many feel that this is the most important effect of the pipeline and that it outweighs anything else. It does seem appealing. TransCanada released information stating that 20,000 jobs would be created by the construction of the pipeline. The fact checking site, PolitiFact checked into this and found that the real number of jobs is only 10,000. TransCanada says that construction will take two years. That means that of the 20,000 job estimate released by TransCanada, only 10,000 will actually be created since only 10,000 workers will be needed for two years. Once it is actually constructed, only 35 people will be needed to maintain the pipeline. So that 20,000 is now down to just 35. How is that helping the economy when only 35 are able to maintain jobs?
The most important impact the Keystone XL Oil Pipeline would have is on the environment. The environment is more important than the creation of jobs. Right now, companies are spilling oil into the environment. As of recent, BP spilled close to 1,000 gallons of oil into Lake Michigan. Obviously, companies can’t control accidents occurring in the status quo. The expansion of the pipeline would just increase these spills. Even to this day, the 2010 BP Mexican Gulf Coast oil spill still has effects on the environment. It would take decades for all the oil to be gone and nothing can make up for the amount of wildlife that was damaged or killed by the oil spill.
What is different about the Keystone XL Oil Pipeline is that it would not carry conventional oil. The pipeline would transport tar sand oil. Tar sand oil is very different from regular oil. Carbon dioxide emissions from the oil are three-four times greater than regular oil and when it comes into contact with water, it sinks. Conventional oil floats, which allows for the clean-up process from a spill to be easier. Not that it is even easy to begin with. For tar sand oil, a spill into a major river or water-way would prove to be detrimental to the surrounding population and ecosystem because you can’t clean up a tar sand oil spill. The pipeline is planned to run through six US states in the Midwest passing near the Missouri River, Yellowstone River, and Red Rivers. A spill into one of these three rivers alone would destroy the environment and spread quickly to the surrounding states. The creation of the pipeline exponentially increases the risk of another major oil spill only this time, it has the potential to be worse than ever.
Now it may seem that President Obama would easily reject the proposal for the Keystone expansion because he just recently demanded companies to increase renewable energy usage, but he has yet to do that. Just this past March, the 2,000 day anniversary since TransCanada first proposed the expansion passed and the Obama administration is still considering it. It is despicable to see that it is still being talked about. In a time when our economy is struggling, can the government truly afford to clean up an oil spill from the pipeline? Only 35 permanent jobs would actually be created. Instead, why not develop public works projects for renewable energy that not only helps the economy but also supports the environment.
We have to learn to coexist with our surroundings. No longer can humans have the egocentric idea that they dominate over everything. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the water and food the Earth provides us. Why risk contaminating something that is so crucial for our existence when we are already destroying the planet?
[Image Attribute: Price of oil.org]