The Keystone XL Pipeline: Counting the Cost

Earlier this month, the controversial Keystone XL pipeline cleared another hurdle towards implementation.  Following a State Department survey of the potential environmental impact of the pipeline, proponents of the Keystone XL were thrilled to hear the agency claim the project would have a negligible impact on greenhouse gases.  However, many opponents of the pipeline questioned the results of the study, claiming ties between the contractor of the survey and the oil industry.  According to the New York Times, the ultimate decision regarding the pipeline now lies with Secretary of State, John Kerry.  Through the executive order of the administration of George W. Bush, the Secretary of State has the power to decide on issues involving cross-border pipeline projects.  As a longtime advocate of environmental protection, many activists hope that Kerry will halt the construction of the Keystone XL. Bill McKibben, of 350.org, says that Kerry and President Obama have ample evidence from the survey itself to prevent the passage of the pipeline, citing a line in the report which states: “total direct and indirect emissions associated with the proposed project would contribute to cumulative global greenhouse gas emissions.”  The importance of this pipeline project cannot be overstated.  Not only do we have reasonable evidence to suspect irreparable environmental degradation from the Keystone XL, we also look to the pipeline project as setting the precedent for the future of North American energy.  If natural gas and the associated practices of fracking are allowed to take over the landscape of our energy consumption over the next 100 years, our access to clean water could permanently be altered.  Is it worth it to pay $2 dollars at the gas pump if you end up paying double that for your water?  The Keystone XL project represents a crucial fork in the road for our society, and the decisions we make today could influence the landscape of our continent for many generations to come.

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