The 2013 State of the Union address has passed and President Obama sang the same old tune about environmental stability. Many embraced his enthusiasm about addressing climate change concerns, front and center to that issue is the Keystone XL scheme. Many of those same constituents praised him for delaying his decision back in November 2011. It is important to remember that the pipeline scheme does not rely on congressional approval; it squarely rests with President Obama and his administration. This lack of action leaves many to question what has been done to earn such praise. Are people actually contented with mediocrity and the lack of presidential leadership and wherewithal?
February has been one of the most active months for protesting the Keystone XL project in DC. Once more, rather than listen to constituents, paddy wagons full of tax paying citizens have been arrested for exercising their legal right of assembly. The latest protest had more than 35,000 outside, in the cold, performing their civic obligation to protect America from foreign occupation and demand the government abide its own laws. Its principle organizer was the National Defense Council (NRDC), which has over 1.3 million members that focus on the legal ramifications surrounding environmental issues. The NRDC focuses on impartial scientific data, compiled over decades, in conjunction with their pristine knowledge of the law. Whether people consider themselves right-wing, left-wing, or independent, there are enough concerns from all perspectives to indicate the Keystone scheme is a tremendously bad idea.
Real Issues with Real Consequences
Before people render blind opinions based strictly on party line perspectives, one should do minimal research to eradicate myths that the pipeline is meant to help America achieve fossil fuel independence, lower gas prices, and create jobs. On numerous occasions TransCanada, the Canadian owned company of the pipelines, has had to recant such proclamations as they were overreaching. While the oil from the pipeline would be refined in Texas, the toxic bitumen is slated for China’s fossil fuel needs and not America. If people do a little more digging, they will find the reason the United States wants to get involved in the project, is to reduce their debt load to China.
The conservative argument is straightforward. For the government to allow Canada to build this pipeline requires the United States to give Canada eminent domain over all affected American soil. This means that Canada, a foreign country, would be legally allowed to take away personal property without having to negotiate fair and equitable settlements with every landowner. In a vast majority of cases, those who refuse to simply hand over their land are sued by Canada to force landowners into bankruptcy. The reality is that this pipeline could not even be envisioned without allowing Canada to steal land from Americans, as this scheme is intended to run straight through the country. To reach a fair market value on each property would prove too costly to make the project a reality.
Beyond matters of property, this scheme is quite a bit more concerning. Tar Sands is not oil, it is a thick toxic bitumen sludge that is 20 times more acidic and 10 times more sulfuric than crude and is highly corrosive. Yet, to move this sludge through the pipelines, it is first mixed with chemicals that are prone to explode because of combustible pressure buildup. Further, to avoid blockage, the pipes must maintain a super-heated temperature of 158Â°F (70Â°C) at all times. If that were not concerning enough, the United States authorized special permits to allow TransCanada to forego following the minimum United States safety requirements. These permits allow piping that is thinner than minimum regulatory standards and authorizes consistent pressures that are higher than the maximum allowed by American safety standards. In the event there is any question, the piping material is made in, and shipped from India, not America. Additionally, TransCanada is spraying toxic chemicals to kill off plant and wildlife in the path of the pipelines. The chemicals are indiscriminate and have the potential to kill off crops, domestic and farm animals, and create health problems for families.
There are more protests scheduled over the coming weeks, which means this issue will not go away quietly. Whether a person is concerned with financial interest, climate change, pollution, or animal welfare, the cessation of the keystone scheme is an issue of common interest to all. For those interested in demanding that President Obama act, please sign the Stop the Tar Sands Pipeline petition.