Environmental Hazards

Keystone Collateral

The Keystone XL Pipeline is a proposed 1,179-mile, 36-inch diameter crude oil pipeline.  If built, it would begin in Hardisty, Alberta and extend south to Steel City, Nebraska.  The pipeline would grow the fuel production of the United States, create jobs and help strengthen critical infrastructure necessary for fuel production.

So, what could be wrong with that?  It sounds great!  Yes, in theory, it does sound good.  However, that doesn’t take into account what types of environmental and wildlife damage could occur if built.


oil pipeline nature damage
Oil pipelines have the potential to devastate nearby wildlife, land, and populations.
Image: Shutterstock

President Obama has waffled over whether to allow the pipeline.  At one point, at a summit on climate change, he stated, “Our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution. The net effects of the pipeline’s impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward.”

However, later he said, “Today, I’m directing my administration to cut through the red tape, break through the bureaucratic hurdles, and make this project a priority, to go ahead and get it done.”

While the TransCanada Corporation has proclaimed that this will be the safest pipeline in history, there is no proof of that. Although they have changed the proposed route to decrease environmental damage, no pipeline is completely safe.

Friends of the Earth, an environmental group asks you not to be fooled by the oil company’s rhetoric.  They say the truth is that the pipeline has the capacity to do massive damage.  One problem is that they extract dirty tar sands oil contributing to climate damaging emissions upon burning.  Further, extraction of just one barrel of oil takes three barrels of water.  The spent water is so dirty and contaminated it has to be stored is special containers.  When these leak, they end up contaminating the surrounding lands and our water supply.

The tar sands extraction threatens the Boreal Forests of Alberta and its caribou.  “Not only have indigenous communities been forced off of their land, but also those living downstream from tailing ponds have seen spikes in rates of rare cancers, renal failure, lupus, and hyperthyroidism. In the lakeside village of Fort Chipewyan, for example, 100 of the town’s 1,200 residents have died from cancer.”

So, please consider the Keystone collateral before supporting it.


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