Last May, after the original Keystone XL Pipeline proposal had been rejected by the Obama Administration, TransCanada submitted a new modified proposal for a shorter, more direct route for the same pipeline to pipe saturated tarsands “oil” from Alberta, Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast. After
Dear Sir or Madam,
I am writing to express my deep disappointment and serious concern regarding the potential approval of a revised Keystone XL Pipeline project. Based on my own research, it is quite clear that the KXL would not only be an environmental catastrophe, but would not produce an abundance of jobs as many have claimed, and would in fact lead to higher gas prices (also in direct contradiction to stated claims) to go along with the aforementioned ecological disaster.
Even the premise of the pipeline “lowering gas prices” is absurd on its face. WHY would any company lobby so hard and spend tens of millions to push a project that would REDUCE their profits?
Reading the latest report on the revised pipeline proposal, right from the beginning I find myself gravely concerned that what is to be pumped through this pipeline being referred to as “oil” as it is not. It is in fact an oily sludge called “bitumen” that must be extracted from the sand and converted into oil. Thick bitumen sludge does not flow like oil, so it must be mixed with water… and LOTS of it (a minimum ratio of 3:1) to liquify it to the point it can be “pumped” like oil. That’s a horrendous waste of fresh water at a time when record heat means record drought.
Upon arrival at its destination, much of the water must then be extracted before the refining process may begin. The waste water… now a muddy chemical sludge, is dumped into giant “tailing ponds” of toxic waste that seep into the ground water, poison the soil for centuries, and kill off local wildlife.
The resulting “heavy-sour crude” is unsuitable for the production of gasoline (which relies on “light-sweet crude”), making it only suitable for producing “diesel” for export to Europe & South America. American refineries will have to give up roughly 15% of their existing refining capacity to convert this sludge into diesel, diverting gasoline production intended for the U.S. market to diesel production for export. Less gasoline being produced means HIGHER prices, not lower.
And there is no question “export” is the ultimate goal. Why else build a pipeline to the Gulf of Mexico? Wouldn’t it be cheaper/faster/easier to simply build a refinery in Canada (or anyplace between Alberta and the Gulf Coast?)
So TransCanada (the owners of the resulting “oil”) gets to export its oil and reap huge profits, while we get higher gas prices, toxic waste ponds and a leaky pipeline bisecting the nation and endangering ground water (and it WILL leak, as the sandy sludge “sandblasts” the thin metal pipeline transporting it.)
We also learned this past week that construction of the pipeline itself would produce no more that 42,100 temporary jobs and only between 35-50 permanent jobs. That’s a FAR cry from the “nearly 1 million jobs” falsely claimed by the pipeline’s supporters.
The solution to America’s energy problems is not to further embed our dependence on fossil fuels from one of the worst sources of oil on the planet, for an energy supply that would last only a few years (not “100+” as claimed), wreak havoc with our environment, increase gas prices and not produce anything close to a significant number of jobs to justify such a costly project. For a fraction of the cost, making our energy grid more efficient and investing in Green energy technology would produce FAR more “bang for the buck”… more jobs, better paying sustainable jobs with an actual future.
The idea that a revised pipeline proposal might be approved simply because the “new” proposal isn’t as an environmentally devastating as the first one is simply insane.
In the same report that says the pipeline is “unlikely” to have any affect on the GPA (“Great Plains Aquifer”) because the groundwater runs too deep and below bedrock, just three bullet points down it says this:
There are 2,537 wells within 1 mile of the proposed Project, including 39 public water supply wells and 20 private wells within 100 feet of the pipeline ROW. The vast majority of these wells are in Nebraska. Those wells that were in the vicinity may be affected by a petroleum release from the proposed Project. – Executive Summary, pg.12.
Tell us again how the pipeline is “unlikely” to affect the ground water?
UPDATE: A week after release of the report (March 9th), an investigation revealed that this latest report claiming a negligible impact of the Keystone XL Pipeline on the environment was not prepared by neutral government officials, but instead:“Environmental Resources Management (ERM) was paid an undisclosed amount under contract to TransCanada to write the statement.” Color me shocked.
Just for fun, and a reminder of what once was, the intro from the 2008 Apocalyptic comedy “Zombie Strippers” joked about “Bush’s Fourth Term”:
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