President Obama vetoes the Keystone XL pipeline: questioning its environmental risks

On Wednesday, March 4, the Senate failed to override President Barack Obama’s veto of the 1,179 mile long Keystone XL oil pipeline. It would be added to the already existing Keystone pipeline and it would stretch from the oil sands in Canada to Nebraska. The pipeline would have the capacity to carry 830,000 barrels of oil each day. However, the Keystone project as a whole is rather complex.

Firstly, Canada already sends 55,000 barrels of oil each day to the United States through the existing Keystone pipeline. However, because the Keystone XL addition crosses the border between the US and Canada, presidential permission was required for the project to begin. According to BBC News, President Obama turned the project down because of “an inadequate envScreen Shot 2015-04-23 at 2.02.20 PM ironmental assessment.”

There is a lot of controversy surrounding the Keystone XL project. Many environmentalists are highly against such a pipeline because petroleum would be extracted from Alberta oil sands, and this is an unconventional energy source that requires a lot more fuel to extract compared to conventional oils and gases. Additionally, oil-sands petroleum creates 17% more carbon pollution as opposed to conventional oil.

In fact, environmentalists have several more arguments against the pipeline. To begin, some people fear that a leak from the Keystone XL pipeline could be more harmful to the environment than a leak from a standard oil pipeline because of the oil-sands petroleum. Plus, many acres of the Alberta forest has already been destroyed for the sake of extracting oil.

Nevertheless, other people argue that it would help to support the economy. For instance, it would create approximately 42,000 temporary jobs and about thirty-five permanent ones. It is also estimated that the project would add $3.4 billion to the American economy. Next, some people suggest that it would help to enhance an alliance and trade relations with Canada.

It is even argued that the Keystone XL pipeline would be one of the safest pipelines in the US. TransCanada, an energy company highly involved with the Keystone project, has agreed to fifty-seven safety procedures to ensure the system is well protected. Moreover, satellite technology would be used to keep track of 20,000 data points on the pipeline.

Overall, this debate is not likely to come to an end anytime soon, for many people are passionately for and against the project. For example, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said that “The president’s veto of the bipartisan Keystone Bill Represents a defeat for jobs, infrastructure, and the middle class.” Meanwhile, writer Jeff Goodall said: “Is it in our national interest to overheat the planet? That’s the question Obama faces in deciding whether to approve Keystone XL.” However, for now, the Keystone XL pipeline remains at rest.

By Lydia Bashor, News writer

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