Connecting the Dots on Connecting the Pipes: The Debate Surrounding the Completion of the Keystone Pipeline

by Anna Lee on April 4, 2014

Every day the United States imports about 800,000 barrels of dirty oil. A portion of this oil is streamed through an underground piping system originating from Canada’s oil sands and running south from North Dakota down through Texas.  On the table right now is an addition to the Keystone Pipeline that would run diagonally through the heart of the United States, bypassing the pipeline spanning the states of Dakota. This spring, Obama is set to release his final decision regarding the fate of this pipeline.

A sketch of the potential placement of the new Keystone pipeline

A sketch of the potential placement of the new Keystone pipeline

There are two sides to the argument surrounding the addition of Keystone XL (the name given to the proposed pipeline). If built, the new line would import between 500,000 and 700,000 additional barrels of oil every day.  The system would also be more efficient than the existing line, as it provides a shorter route from the oil sands. Economists state that the additional oil could lower national gas prices and decrease our international dependence for dirty oil.

Those in opposition of Keystone XL have assumed an environmental and social welfare standpoint, arguing that the line would ultimately destroy the heart of American soil as well as the surrounding communities. The pipeline would pose a great threat to the terrain that it would impale with risks of leakage into public water systems and damaging soil quality. Protesters have been extremely vocal in these past months leading up to the final decision regarding the pipeline. A large protest was recently staged in Washington DC, where about a thousand college activists rallied at Georgetown University and marched to the white house. They staged a human oil spill, laying down on a black tarp and proceeded to chain themselves to the White House fence where 398 students were then arrested.

If Obama signs off on the construction of Keystone XL, he will be making a strong statement regarding his views on the future of energy. The pipeline would support and continue the United States’ use of dirty oil for future generations. It would pose a strong voice against the belief in renewable energy as a sustainable resource.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

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