On January 18, 2012, President Obama rejected the Keystone XL Pipeline proposal. For those of you who are unaware of what the Keystone XL Pipeline proposal is, here is a brief background:
TransCanada, a Canadian oil and gas company, proposed a $7 billion bid to build an oil pipeline linking the tar sands of Alberta to the oil refineries on the Gulf of Mexico. This would be a 1,700-mile route stretching through the United States. The bill had major support from Republicans and labor unions.
The major support behind the bill that sparked huge protests in Washington D.C. and all over the world (as you saw on Moving Planet Day) came from the common debate over economy vs. the environment. The building of the pipeline was projected to create thousands of American jobs. As such, the President has been criticized for his decision. However, there are major consequences for building such a pipeline that the President (luckily!) took into account.
Tar sands production is a major source of pollution. In fact, during just tar sands production, the carbon dioxide emissions are three times that of conventional oil drilling. According to the Friends of Earth organization, the construction and use of the Keystone Pipeline would bring enough carbon emissions to equal six million new cars on U.S. roads. Tar Sands also create a large amount of water waste. For example, for every one barrel of oil received, three gallons of water are used. This polluted water would then enter and disturb the habitat and species reliant on those habitats. The communities, especially near the refineries, already face a largely polluted neighborhood. The tar sands would significantly increase the amount of pollution in those neighborhoods, exposing those people to major diseases like cancer.
The Obama administration's rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline bid is a huge victory for environmentalists in our country. However, it does not mean that there is no future to the pipeline. The Obama administration is still facing tremendous criticism for their decision. The truth is, while the economy is not good, environmental issues do not become a priority. Thanks to President Obama, this particular issue was made a priority. However, one thing I would like to point out is that the rejection of the bill only came after thousands and thousands of protesters gathered together around all parts of the country. We showed the Obama administration through our protests and letters how powerful our opinion is. So the next time a pressing environmental issue crops up in politics, do your part and get the word out there. The rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline is proof enough that when we all make a resounding effort, our politicians do hear us.
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