It’s bad enough that the Keystone XL Pipeline would feed the the world’s oil addiction (and by default, our climate change problem), but it’s also a serious threat to the drinking water of millions of people. Are you one of them?
As Ted Turner wrote in a piece for CNN, the thick tar sands crude oil must be pumped at “extreme” pressure and temperatures to sludge through 1,700 miles of pipeline between Alberta, Canada and the Gulf Coast. This sets the stage for spills that will almost certainly happen — in fact, the original Keystone Pipeline spilled more than 12 times in the first year of operation.
When oil spills, it contaminates the water in nearby farms and communities. For example, a tar sand spill from the Enbridge pipeline in 2010 polluted water for 30 miles in Michigan, and cost $700 million to clean up.
As Turner notes, a spill anywhere along the Keystone XL could contaminate aquifers and municipal water supplies. For some areas, like Houston, Texas, this could be devastating. Turner is left questioning the safety of his own land in Fort Pierre, South Dakota, which is 15 miles downstream of the proposed pipeline expansion.
Keystone XL Pipeline Environmental Impact
If you live near the pipeline in states like Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas, you may have the most immediate reason for concern. But ultimately, the Keystone XL Pipeline affects everyone in the world.
In a written statement to the U.S. Senate, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune laid it all out beautifully. He cited a report that the pipeline would enable oil production to leap by 500,000 gallons per day, which would amount to the pollution from 46 new coal plants.
More pollution means faster climate change. In a world that’s already seeing more than its share of droughts, severe storms and extreme temperatures, increasing climate change would be a step in the wrong direction — one that’s difficult to reverse.
And while Keystone proponents shout that the pipeline will decrease American dependence on foreign oil, the truth is that much of the oil is headed for export, and might not make a dent in our foreign consumption. Oil production in America is up, not down, and we don’t need any more.
This is a time when we need to focus on alternative energy sources like wind and solar power, not boosting oil production. The science is clear: the Keystone XL pipeline spells bad news for local drinking water and the entire planet.