In honor of Earth Day, I am switching from my theatre theme to write about something that is of great environmental importance. Those of you who have read my blog for some time know that I have written frequently about the XL Keystone Pipeline and all the reasons it is bad for our country.
Even though the infrastructure for the north/south route of the pipeline – which will stretch from Canada to the Gulf Coast – has been under construction for sometime, final approval by the U.S. State Department has not been given.
In an article in the Huffington Post, Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, listed several good reasons for why that approval should not be given. In the article, she described the process of mining for the tar sands oil that devastates areas as large as Chicago in Canada’s boreal forest. It takes at least two tons of sand to get a single barrel of tar sands crude called bitumen, a low-grade, high-sulphur hydrocarbon that takes considerably more refining to be turned into fuel.
According to Beinecke, “Producing tar sands crude is so energy intensive that it generates up to 4.5 times more climate-changing carbon emissions as the production of conventional crude oil. In fact, producing, refining and burning tar sands the KXL pipeline would increase our carbon footprint as much as putting up to 4.3 million additional cars on the road, the Congressional Research Service reported last month.”
That’s even before considering the environmental impact of spills when pipes break, and they will, no doubt about that. It’s already happened in Kalamazoo, MI, where the Kalamazoo river was contaminated when the Eastern leg of the pipeline has been in place for some time.
I first heard about the XL pipeline three years ago when several local landowners formed an action group STOP Tarsands Oil Pipeline to formulate a plan to lobby against the pipeline, which is coming through some of the prettiest land in East Texas. One landowner, who has natural springs on his property that feed a creek so clean you can drink directly from it, did not want the pipeline to come through because of the potential for contaminating the water.
|One of the clear, clean pools in East Texas|
That concern is magnified when you consider the pipeline is slated to cross the major water tables in the heartland of America, as well as aquifers in North and East Texas. A leak would contaminate those water systems for hundreds of years.
There is another issue at play here, and that is the use of Eminent Domain to acquire the land for the pipeline if owners refuse to sell. Eminent Domain is only supposed to be used if the property taken is somehow going to have a large enough benefit that it trumps ownership. Those in favor of the pipeline say that the tarsands oil will reduce the price of gasoline in the U.S. Wrong. The oil will go into foreign markets first.
If you would like to meet some of the East Texas people who have been impacted by this, here is a link to Land Owners Against Trans Canada Pipeline. If you would like to join the cause, there are links on that site for sending feedback to President Obama and others to ask them not to approve the pipeline.
And if you would like to celebrate Earth Day with something just for fun, you can check out the Google doodle for today. It is very clever.