The Keystone XL Project

Rachel Chou, Opinions Editor

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On Nov. 6 President Barack Obama rejected the Keystone XL oil pipeline proposal, ending a seven-year argument over what has become a symbol of the political battle over climate change. Since 2008, TransCanada Corporation has been seeking approval for the construction of a 1,179 mile pipeline that would connect existing pipeline networks in Canada and the United States to transport crude oil to refineries across countries.

 

Obama argued that the approval would undermine the United States global leadership in the fight against climate change, however the actual truth is that the United States doesn’t need the pipeline. Supporters of TransCanada argue that the pipeline would have created thousands of construction jobs, strengthened energy security, and helped to relieve a surplus of oil in Northern America. However, the United States is currently undergoing the greatest oil boom in this nation’s history. Last summer, the nation surpassed Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer with about 3.6 million additional barrels a day being produced since Obama took office. This surge in oil is primarily due to new technology, mainly fracking, which has allowed the oil industry to reach pools of oil that they couldn’t before.

 

Can we actually name ourselves leaders in the fight against climate change? The Obama administration has done little to block this growth in fracking, which has a multitude of health and environmental consequences. Ground water contamination, methane and air pollution impacts, earthquakes, and gas explosions are only a few of the many environmental risks of hydraulic fracturing. Fracking is dangerous not only for the workers but the people living in the surrounding area due to the many health risks involved with the process.

 

I think it’s great that Keystone XL was unapproved. It’s definitely one step in the right direction. But I don’t think we can call ourselves environmental heroes just yet, when there are so many other environmental issues being left on the back burner.

 

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