If there were environmental battles exemplifying a Ping-Pong game, they would relate to the Keystone XL pipeline story.
Since proposal of the project (also known as the KXL) in the year 2008, through the seven years of being plagued by citizen protests and the numerous conflicting legislative orders from the federal government, plans for the controversial pipeline have never been smooth. Let me explain further.
In the year 2015, for example, the then President Barack Obama acknowledged its permeating threats to the ecosystems, public health, drinking water sources and advancing national commitment to reducing reliance on unclean energy.
After taking office, President Donald Trump differed with Obama’s pledge and concerns. In January 2018, the president signed an executive order that would boost and set into motion the Keystone XL and the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The United States Department also offered pipeline developers with their long awaited cross-border permits, reversing course on a previous decision. They claimed that the project would support the United States priorities relating to the economic development, energy security and the infrastructure. Here is an overview on the pipeline:
About the Keystone XL Pipeline
TransCanada, energy Infrastructure Company, proposed the XL pipeline extension in the year 2008 to facilitate the transportation of the dirtiest fossil fuel on the planet, to the marketplace, faster. Thus the The XL Pipeline was born, an extension of the existing Keystone Pipeline System, that has been transporting Canadian Crude oil to various processing hubs in the United States from Alberta.
The project would facilitate the processing of 168 billion barrels locked up in the boreal forest. Actually, it would transport around 830,000 barrels of tar sands from Alberta per day to the refineries on the Gulf Coast of Texas.
Keystone and Tar Sands
The sludgy sticky deposit, known as tar sands, is found beneath the boreal forest within northern Alberta. The sands, comprise of bitumen (an icky form of petroleum), which can be changed into fuel. Extraction of fuel from the tar sands is not a small feat, and comes with huge economic and environmental costs.
However, with the increase of gas prices in mid-2000, most oil companies worked up production and looked for additional ways to transport the product from those remote tar sands fields in Canada to the Gulf Coast and Midwestern refineries.
Leaks and the XL pipeline
Tar Sands oil is not only thicker, but it is more corrosive and way more acidic than the lighter conventional crude oils and that ups the chances of the XL pipeline leaking from time to time, now, and in the near future.
A more recent study showed that the pipelines transporting the tar sands oil within the Midwestern states, between 2007 and 2010, spilled at least 2-3 times more per every mile than the average pipelines transporting conventional crude oil throughout the United States.
Within the first year of operation, TransCanada’s Keystone Pipeline System (the original system) leaked 12 times.
The first incident happened in North Dakota where the pipeline shot into the air, 60 feet or 21,000-gallon geyser of the tar sands oil.
On top of that, leaks are very hard to detect and whenever when they start leaking, these leaks pose heightened explosion risks due to their high volatility.
They are also very hard to clean compared to any conventional oils.
There are no known ways of cleaning the tar sands oil after it sinks in waterways. So, you tell me , is it a good idea or Now? .