The Keystone Pipeline Project is one of the most prominent energy decisions ever taken by the US government. This problem has been debated for a long time, but no decision has yet been drawn as to whether the TransCanada Company headquartered in Calgary will continue with this building significant pipeline or accept defeat in the U.S.‘ national interest’. If installed, the pipeline will extend 2000 miles from Alberta, Canada, in the United States of America to Texas (Kadrmas, Lee & Jackson, Rooney, 2009). It is expected that the critical stone pipeline will move about 830,000 barrels a day from Canada to American refineries in Port Arthur, Texas (the United States, 2011).
As many hopes have already been built on it, this $7 billion energy infrastructure project is expected to have a widespread and a tremendous effect on the population both ways if the government approves it.
As the protestors and activists tried to force the government to take any action against this controversial project, the Canadian government was making continuous attempts to pursue the American legislators moving ahead with the Keystone XL pipeline project. However, on January 18, 2012, President Obama made the permit for this project redundant. On the same date, TransCanada proclaimed to reapply for the presidential consent to the U.S. Department of State.
Some arguments for and against the business of this pipeline have been bought under consideration of the decision-makers. The Keystone pipeline will be designed to carry one of the world’s dirtiest and highly contaminant fuel, tar sands oil. The amount of pollution that evolves during the refining process of tar sands oil is nearly three times as much as that produced during the refinement of regular oil. Since the procedure involves more sophisticated energy-intensive extraction and refining techniques, vast amounts of carbon dioxide and other atmosphere injuring gases are expected to be released into the environment daily.
These green house emissions would result in global warming and other related risks. Not only air pollution but also the waters, nearby lands and wildlife will be affected mainly by the installation of this pipeline. The process also requires vast amounts of water each day for the separation of extorted products, which are too polluted and dumped in tailing ponds after they have been consumed. These tailing ponds are made up of highly toxic chemicals that eventually find their way to clean, surrounding water.
However, the argument put forward in contrast to this by the Canadian government is that the emissions are no more hazardous as compared to the conventional oil on a lifecycle emissions basis and also that Alberta has planned procedures to reduce these emissions in due course. According to the Canadian government, the pipeline plan has met and even gone beyond all the permitting conditions that should make it more acceptable for both the countries and their people (Canada, 2007).
There’s a lot more environmental damage that would be caused because of the construction of the keystone pipeline. Where the greenhouse gases are being expected to increase, forests are also under a greater peril to annihilation. According to sources, more than 4 million hectares of Canada’s Boreal Forest is at a clear threat of extinction. These forests would be purposely cut down to gain admittance to the underground tar.
Oil spills are besides a natural threat along the extensive course that the pipeline covers. Other pipes made by TransCanada have also been subject to oil spills (Stansbury, 2011).
Even after the Canadian government’s assurances about the appropriate measures and safety regulations being in place, the environmental risks of the Keystone pipeline are extremely hazardous shall they materialize.
On the other side of the coin, this pipeline not only ensures a proper supply of oil for both the nations but it also involves the creation of thousands and thousands of jobs across the border which are going to be a definite boost to the economies of Canada and the United States. The keystone pipeline is expected to create over 20,000 direct jobs and 118,000 indirect jobs throughout its construction. It is also anticipated to contribute $5.2 billion in property taxes once the pipeline commences its operations and have other considerable effects on the country’s wealth (Canada, 2007).
On the contrary, these jobs are only temporary. They would last till the construction period is over, and most of these jobs would go to existing employees and constructors of TransCanada. These jobs are not going to be high paying and high quality, and it is said that the estimated number of posts by this company is an idealistic approximation with only 5,000 to 7,000 construction workers and staff required.
The Keystone pipeline is further accused of creating a dependence on the American government towards a fuel that is exhaustive and untrustworthy because of its very nature and the way it affects the financial markets. The worst part about this whole controversy being that the United States itself would not consume this oil, but it is going through all this criticism to export it to other countries. The United States is an independent nation, and such a massive venture with Canada is sure to create a dependency.
In contrast, this endeavour can further fortify America’s position internationally as the oil reserves in the East are also being exhausted. Even if America does not use this oil itself, it can always store the excess, and that can enhance its oil security in the global supply (Parformak, P. W., & Library of Congress, 2011). America has to fulfil its oil requirements through purchasing oil on global markets, if this venture goes ahead as planned, America will have to buy oil from Canada, which has always been a close and reliable ally and a secure oil supplier. Therefore, the United States dependence on Canada is better than its reliance on any other country.
In conclusion, environmental and social concerns are inevitable with such a large project in question. Still, the Keystone XL pipeline has made many people watchful of the government’s integrity and priority for its people and their safe and secure future.
- Canada. (2007). Reasons for decision in the matter of TransCanada Keystone Pipeline
- G.P. Ltd: Section 52 application dated December 12, 2006, for the Keystone Pipeline Project. Calgary, AB: The Board.
- Canada. (2007). NEB approves Keystone pipeline project. Calgary: National Energy Board
- Dakota. (2009). Crude oil pipe pipeline feasibility study: Bakken to Keystone pipeline system. Bismarck, N.D: North Dakota Industrial Commission.
- Kadrmas, Lee & Jackson., Rooney Engineering, Inc., & Industrial Commission of North Dakota Public Service Commission. (2007). [TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, LLC]. Bismarck, N.D.: Public Service Commission.
- Parformak, P. W., & Library of Congress. (2011). Keystone XL pipeline project: Key issues. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress.
- Pipeline Safety Trust., & Natural Resources Defense Council. (2011). Tar sands pipeline safety risks. New York, N.Y: Natural Resources Defense Council.
- Stansbury, J. (2011). Analysis of frequency, magnitude and consequence of worst-case spills from the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Lincoln, Neb: University of Nebraska Water Center.
- Swift, A., Shope, E., Casey-Lefkowitz, S., Sierra Club., National Wildlife Federation., The United States. (2011). Keystone XL pipeline project final environmental impact statement. Washington: U.S. Dept. of State.