With an increasing global population and ever industrializing society’s, environmental concern is rarely given priority over economic incentive. But what people fail to realize is that our environmental failures, and relative apathy about it set up a plethora of problems for future generations to deal with. One of the most important decisions president Obama will face in the next year will be whether or not to approve the building of the Keystone XL pipeline, a massively sized, and massively controversial oil pipeline that would stretch all the way from Alberta Canada, to American oil refineries along the Gulf Of Mexico.
Despite the economic incentive present, the building of the Keystone XL pipeline should not happen because of the environmental risks posed, and the fact that it bolsters our dependence on fossil fuels. Oil pipelines are prone to environmentally devastating spills, and have never proved to be an effective long term solution for the transport of crude oil. A pipeline the size of the Keystone XL would simply be a disaster waiting to happen.
The proposed pipeline would stretch over 2,000 miles, and go directly above the Ogalalla Aquifer in the central United States. The Ogalalla aquifer is one of the largest, and most important in the entire United States, “About 27 percent of the irrigated land in the United States overlies this aquifer system, which yields about 30 percent of all ground water used for irrigation in the United States. The aquifer system supplies drinking water to 82 percent of the 2. 3 million people (1990 census) who live within the boundaries of the High Plains study area.
” (Dennehy) The sheer size of the aquifer makes it so that the Keystone XL would have to go over it in order to reach it’s destination, so what damage a spill would have is only magnified by the agricultural importance of the aquifer. There have been 24 oil pipeline spills in the US alone over the last decade, spilling over 680 thousand tonnes of oil. (List of Oil Spills). And even despite a recent spill in Arkansas, proponents of the pipeline still have failed to properly look into it’s potential impact. “…
the study is missing some critical elements, including an in-depth review of pipeline safety issues, added pollution in refinery communities and a special assessment of the impact on wildlife…. Keystone XL is rife with issues that exacerbate climate change and environmental injustices. ” (Mogerman). Rather than be concerned with the issues presented by the pipeline, or the past precedent of failure many pipelines have had in the US, Keystone supporters seem to only be focused on the profit it’s building would turn.
And many wealthy supporters have turned to lobbying News programs into downplaying it’s risks. “TV Outlets Mentioned Jobs Benefits Twice As Often As Spill Risks. Television outlets overlooked the threat of Keystone XL to the sensitive ecosystems along the pipeline route, mentioning the risk of a spill in just 20 percent of coverage since Election Day, November 6, 2012. Meanwhile, 43 percent of television coverage promoted the jobs benefits of the pipeline.
” (Fitsimmons) The media is the most effective way to get a message to the public, and wealthy oil corporations have proved they’re willing to spend money to get a persuasive message across to the public, “Keystone pipeline supporters outspend it’s opponents 35 to 1… Some of this money going to news stations to encourage a positive view be portrayed. ” (Israel) If the Keystone pipeline is built, a potential spill poses immense environmental risk to humans and wildlife alike, but supporters fail to acknowledge these risks and continue to push for it’s production.
America should be moving toward widespread usage of renewable energy, for the sake of its economy and environment; the building of the Keystone XL pipeline would only further our national dependence on non-sustainable sources of energy. America, like many countries worldwide has been making a push toward sustainable energy on all fronts, and as public support of the shift becomes more and more apparent, “85% of Iowan’s support wind farms, and this number is an accurate gauge of the approximate public attitude nationwide.
” (Haugen) large energy companies, and other companies like car manufacturers become more and more likely to jump on the bandwagon and help the progress, “Green car madness has taken over. This year we have seen more electric and hybrid vehicle startups than ever before. ” (Morrison) Nearly everyone recognizes the benefits of the shift, both in terms of how it would help our environment in the long term, but also the economic impact it would have, (reduced gas costs, lower electric and other utilities bills… etc. ) But still, many large companies work to impede the progress in favor of
maintaining our dependence on fossil fuels. The American Petroleum institute has worked with many oil industry protection companies to stymie the renewable energy movement, even in some cases, “posing as environmentalist groups in order to attract the support of environmentalists while simultaneously pushing their anti-renewable agenda. ” (Blankenhorn) Many of these companies striving against renewable energy also support the building of the Keystone pipeline, using the justification that the building of the pipeline would lower gas prices.
But what they fail to acknowledge is the basic economic fallacy of this, “Fossil energy prices are not going to fall. The more you remove carbon-based resources from the ground, the more it costs to get more. ” (Blankenhorn) The law of supply and demand dictates that as supply lessens, demand goes up, and as does price. So even if prices are lowered in the short term, the fact that crude oil is a non-renewable resource assures that the pipeline is in no way a permanent solution to gas prices so many people worry about. Perhaps a more permanent solution to gas prices would to eliminate gas altogether.
Rather than pumping money into a project like the pipeline that would simply increase our dependence on fossil fuels, more money should be put into the research and development of sustainable energy. With the US dollar that will go into building the Keystone pipeline, “Approximately 12. 2$ billion” (TransCanada), with that money alone, we could afford to put a whole home solar panel system on over 1. 8 million homes across the country (Wholesale Solar), or purchase a Nissan Leaf electric car (no gas emissions, 108 mpg) for over four hundred thousand people.
(Gunther) Supporters of the Keystone Pipeline argue that the jobs created by the pipeline, and the money that would in turn be pumped into the economy validates its building. Approval of the pipeline would immediately add many job opportunities to the American workforce, “It’s estimated that the Keystone XL project would help create at least 20,000 new American jobs in manufacturing and construction, said House Speaker John Boehner. ” (Shierter) This immediate influx of jobs would benefit the national economy and reduce unemployment.
Supporters also say that it’s building would help reduce gas prices throughout the country, a pressing issue that effects a large number of people. “.. they say the few pipelines that do connect Canada’s oil production region to the US currently flow where refining capacity is limited. This means less gasoline for your tank. The result would mean more supply for US consumers, and therefore, lower gasoline prices. ” (Sanati) With the pipeline carrying nearly 800,000 barrels of oil a day directly into U. S. Refineries, our foreign dependence would be significantly reduced, and the ‘everyday person’ would see a drop in their gas prices.
Supporters say that these economic incentives are enough enough to outweigh the environmental risks of building the pipeline. While the fact that the pipeline being built would immediately create 20,000+ jobs for American people is a fact, and can’t be refuted, what supporters like John Boehner fail to acknowledge is the permanence of these jobs. The national energy panel came out with a report regarding the economic impact of building the pipeline, saying “… once up and running, the operation of the pipeline would only support 35 permanent and 15 temporary jobs, mostly for inspections, maintenance and repairs.
Based on this estimate, routine operation of the proposed pipeline would have negligible socioeconomic impacts. ” (Buford) What good in an influx of 20,000+ jobs if, once done with their initial job are no longer needed? The idea that the jobs created by the pipeline should be enough to make us want to build it is a short-sighted evasion of facts. Rather than thrust people into impermanent jobs related to the pipeline employers nationwide should be pushing people toward working in the field of renewable energy, “The field of renewable energy has expanded vastly over the last 10 years, creating over 2.
3 permanent jobs worldwide. A number expected to continue increasing. ” But America has yet to embrace this shift as other countries have “In the United States, federal policies have been weak and inconsistent over the years. Still, a study for the American Solar Energy Society found that the U. S. renewables sector employed close to 200,000 people directly in 2006 and another 246,000 indirectly. ” (Bezdek) The potential is there for renewable energy to emerge as a power player in terms of national employment in the U.
S, other countries show it’s massive potential, “In 2006 Germany had some 259,000 direct and indirect jobs in the renewables sector. The number is expected to reach 400,000-500,000 by 2020 and then 710,000 by 2030. ” (Buhler) Yet the U. S still seems wary to make a commitment to renewable energy, in many ways do to powerful oil companies and other people with economic interests in oil working to impede a national shift. Rather than focus on the short term employment that would come from the Keystone Pipeline, the American government and energy companies should work on shifting from fossils fuels, to renewable energy.
It would not only benefit the environment, but expand an already existing field of permanent jobs. The risks posed by building the Keystone XL pipeline outweigh it’s economic potential by a large margin. It’s building would only further delay us as a country from moving toward widespread renewable energy. As inhabitants of this Earth it is our responsibility to preserve and protect the Earth and it’s natural resources for future generations, to build the Keystone pipeline would contradict that philosophy.
Many people have stepped up for the cause and publicly opposed the pipeline, whether through petitions, letters to political figures, or actual demonstrations, this public pressure is what convinces politicians to support a stance, and this will to protect is exactly what will end up preserving our Earth. “We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity, belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, then we may begin to use it with love and respect. ”