XL pipe with XL problems


Posted Thu, Feb 28, 2013

Thousands of people rallied in Washington, D.C, on Feb. 7, forming the largest climate-related protest in American history.

Denver climate protesters rallied on the Auraria campus and marched to the State Capital. [Photo by Melanie Rice]

Denver climate protesters rallied on the Auraria campus and marched to the State Capital. [Photo by Melanie Rice]

The event, which was organized by 350.org and the Sierra Club, was held because of the Keystone XL pipeline, a proposed $7 billion pipeline that will extend across the boarder from Canada into the U.S. It will add to an already existing Keystone pipeline, but make a connection from Alberta, Canada to Houston.

The company behind the Keystone XL pipeline, TransCanada, has been lobbying to build the pipe for several years, but a multitude of difficulties have prevented them from building, including the suggested route and the environmental impacts.

“Part of the problem is that we don’t know for sure what will happen,” said Dr. Barbara EchoHawk, professor of geology at Metropolitan State University of Denver. “You have to look at leakage history of similar pipelines; how soon it’s detected, how easily it’s cleaned up. I think a lot of the concern is the potential for contamination of groundwater because the pipeline’s going over an aquifer.”

TransCanada’s official website states that “if oil were to reach groundwater, movement of oil and any resulting contaminants that enter groundwater would be slow and limited in scope, likely to hundreds of feet at most.”

However, many people are still concerned with the high risks involved in such a massive project. Historically, accidents do happen and the impacts of such accidents could be extreme.

“I think it’s really important to weigh the pros and cons of all of these developments,” EchoHawk said. “It’s not just the pipeline, but everything that we’re doing.”

Denver Rally

Protesters are waiting for President Obama’s decision on the controversial pipeline. [Photo by Melanie Rice]

The Keystone XL pipeline is quickly becoming a multi-layered complex issue. A key force behind the project is economics. TransCanada claims that this project could create thousands of American jobs and stimulate the economy. Opponents are saying it might not be as beneficial to American workers as it seems.

“I don’t think it’s going to generate as many jobs as people who are saying it’s a good thing are saying,” EchoHawk said. “Temporary jobs, maybe, but a lot of the workers that come in to work on projects are actually from the home country and the home company. So they have Canadian citizens, for example, come in and deal with a lot of the pipeline work.”

Another issue that protesters have focused on is that the pipe will require President Barack Obama’s approval. Former green jobs advisor for President Obama, Van Jones, spoke out at the rally on Sunday.

“President Obama,” Jones said, “All the good that you have done, all the good you can imagine doing, will be wiped out, wiped out by floods, by fires, by super storms, if you fail to act now to deal with this crisis that is a gun—a gun—pointed at the head of the future. Everything you have done. History will judge you 20 years from now based on one decision alone.”

This important decision comes on the heals of the President’s State of the Union address, where he said, “we must do more to combat climate change.”

Since President Obama has already endorsed the project several times, it seems unlikely that he will reject it now, even after the unprecedented protests. The necessity for oil will outweigh the cons of an environmentally dodgy operation.

“As resources are diminished, there is higher demand because people aren’t willing to see their lifestyle change,” EchoHawk said. “At the same time, with more people the ecological world is shrinking and so we have to be really careful about the resources we have left.”

Keystone XL fact run-down:
• Last Sunday’s protest in Washington was the largest climate-related rally in history, with an estimated 50,000 people in attendance
• The Keystone XL will have 2,000 miles of pipe extending across the Canadian/U.S. boarder
• It will be the longest pipeline in North America, trumped only by pipes in Russia and China
• The pipes will be transporting oil sand from the Alberta, Canada
• Oil sand is about 90 percent clay, sand and water. The other 10 percent is made up of bitumen, a highly dense form of petroleum.

About Maureen Bayne

Maureen Bayne grew up in the small town Aztec, New Mexico. Later, she moved to Bakersfield, CA, where she graduated from Bakersfield High School. After attending Colorado State University for two years, she moved to Berkeley, CA, where she studied art at Berkeley Community College. She is currently living in Westminster, CO and is seeking a degree in magazine journalism at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

View all posts by Maureen Bayne

4 Responses to “XL pipe with XL problems”

  1. Ashley Says:

    I’ve heard a lot of rumors about the XL pipeline, and this answered a lot of my lingering questions. I have several friends that talk about working for the pipeline, but it’s more dangerous than most people realize.


  2. Davy Says:

    Well reported story. Good pictures used.


  3. Emily Pennetti Says:

    Good story. Keystone XL fact run-down was great for those of us that don’t know too much about this.


  4. S.L. Alderton Says:

    Good job covering this event. I would have liked to hear a little more from the other side of the argument, but overall this was good.


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