From fighting for ownership of land rich in oil to the ever-intensifying debate centered around greenhouse gas emissions and the harsh environmental impact of oil extraction and refining processes, oil has always been a controversial resource. It has become even more controversial with plans for the Keystone XL pipeline from the Canadian oil corporation TransCanada that would stretch from Alberta, Canada to the gulf coast region of Texas, traversing roughly two thousand miles, including three hundred in Montana. The pipeline poses a serious threat to our state and nation. We as Montanans and Americans must stand up for ourselves and not be bullied by giant foreign oil corporations like TransCanada.
When pipelines leak, it can take months to fix them and years to clean up the waste. According to a recent investigation by Global News, Alberta’s oil pipeline network has experienced almost 29,000 leaks in the past 40 years. That is an average of two leaks per day. Although most of these leaks are caused by minor cracks and dents, there have been numerous instances in which hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil have leaked, contaminating residential areas, natural resources and fragile ecosystems. On top of that, the Keystone XL pipeline would be carrying tar-sands oil, the dirtiest form of oil with the highest carbon content on the planet, directly over the nation’s largest source of water, the Ogallala aquifer in South Dakota. If the pipeline were to be implemented, every time it leaked oil anywhere near the aquifer, it would contaminate the drinking water of millions of people in the midwest along with a third of all water used for agricultural irrigation in the U.S. In other words, the pipeline would put at risk the health of the environment and citizens of America for the sake of profits.
To make matters even worse, profits from the pipeline wouldn’t even benefit America whatsoever. Proponents of the pipeline love saying that the Keystone XL pipeline would make America more “energy independent” as it would rely less on foreign oil from the Middle East and more from our friendly Canadian neighbors. However, this is totally not true. Not only is Canada already America’s primary source for oil importation globally, rather than the Middle East as many people think, the oil would not even benefit the U.S. since TransCanada openly admits to intending to export all Keystone XL oil to foreign markets.
Along with destroying the environment for the sake of foreign profits, the Keystone XL pipeline would actually raise gas prices by creating an artificially decreased supply of oil as the pipeline carried more and more oil away from the States. Due to the incredible amount of money it costs to extract and refine tar-sands oil in lieu of more traditional, cleaner crude oils, the argument that the pipeline would lower gas prices for Americans is simply wishful thinking for U.S. citizens and political propaganda for those who have a stake in TransCanada’s profits. As any American can attest to, especially Montanan farmers and ranchers with big diesel trucks and tractors, higher gas prices is the last thing this country needs.
Many proponents of the Keystone XL pipeline claim that the labor needed for the construction of the pipeline would create 20,000 jobs,” some of which would of course go to Montanans. However, TransCanada stated that the construction would only create about 4,000 jobs maximum for a duration of only two years.
The most recent phase of construction for the Keystone XL pipeline, running from Oklahoma to gulf coast Texas, began shipping oil a few weeks ago. The only section needed to complete the pipeline is the northern leg, which would stretch from Alberta to Nebraska, crossing through Montana. Construction for the northern leg is currently idle as TransCanada waits for approval from the Obama administration.
You have the chance to submit a public comment to the Obama administration by March 7 by visiting the U.S. Department of State Keystone Pipeline XL Project homepage at the web address, http://www.keystonepipeline-xl.state.gov. Montana does not need the Keystone XL pipeline, but the Obama administration does need your opinion!