Under Construction

Global Warming | Other Fuel Problems | Renewable Energy | Energy Stats | Green Living | Green Buildings | Transportation

The Keystone XL (KXL) oil pipeline would carry tar sands from Alberta Canada through several U.S. states to refineries in Texas. The project was originally developed as a partnership between TransCanada and ConocoPhillips.

Pros:

  • The pipeline could supply up to 800,000 barrels per day (4% of US consumption) and could offset oil from Venezuela (4.8%). (The Middle East and N. Africa currently supplies 11.6%)
  • It would provide jobs to help in the economic recovery.
  • Canadian unconventional oil is only 5 to 15 percent worse than conventional crude according to the Washington Post.

Cons:

  • Pollution from tar sands oil greatly eclipses that of conventional oil. During tar sands oil production alone, levels of carbon dioxide emissions are three times higher than those of conventional oil, due to more energy-intensive extraction and refining processes.

    During the tar sands oil extraction process, vast amounts of water are needed to separate the extracted product, bitumen, from sand, silt, and clay. It takes three barrels of water to extract each single barrel of oil. At this rate, tar sands operations use roughly 400 million gallons of water a day. Ninety percent of this polluted water is dumped into large human-made pools, known as tailing ponds, after it's used. These ponds are home to toxic sludge, full of harmful substances like cyanide and ammonia, which has worked its way into neighboring clean water supplies.

  • A 2011 study by Danielle Droitsch of Pembina Institute, says that "a good portion of the oil that will gush down the KXL will probably end up being finally consumed beyond the territorial United States". It also states that the project will increase the heavy crude oil price in the Midwestern United States by diverting oil sands oil from the Midwest refineries to the Gulf Coast and export markets.
  • Over 100 miles of the pipeline pass through Native American reservations. Many Native Americans and Indigenous Canadians are opposed to the Keystone XL project for various reasons, including possible damage to sacred sites, pollution, and water contamination.
    In summer 2010, a million gallons of tar sands oil poured into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan from a pipeline run by another Canadian company, Enbridge.
  • EPA has estimated that Keystone XL would increase annual carbon emissions by up to 27.6 MMt CO2e annually - the equivalent of seven coal-fired power plants operating continuously or having 6.2 million cars on the road for 50 years.
  • The only independent study on Keystone XLs job impacts, produced by the Cornell Global Labor Institute, projected that Keystone XL would have a negative net impact on employment in the United States. See KeystoneXL-101.pdf | SierraClub.org.

Links:
Keystone Highway | WashingtonPost.com
The Keystone XL oil pipeline distraction | WashingtonPost.com
KeystoneXL-101.pdf | SierraClub.org
Keystone XL pipeline
Climate Impacts from the Keystone XL Pipeline | The Energy Collective
US Oil consumption


Return to Environment

last updated 10 Feb 2013