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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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Opinion: Keystone XL pipeline project to pollute environment

Oona O'TooleThe proposed Keystone XL pipeline, extending from Canada to Texas which extracts bitumen, a molasses-like substance, which can be refined into useable oil has been causing concern about future environmental impacts from its construction.

The drilling of the substance is said to release twice the amount of carbon already emitted by fossil fuels and is one of the most carbon intensive processes on Earth. This will seal our planets warming fate if these carbon stores are exploited.

After a judge in Lamar County, Texas ruled that the pipeline was “for the greater good,” and allowed the project to claim eminent domain, TransCanada cleared one of its major obstacles. Whether or not Keystone XL will be for the greater good is easily contested.

How is something that exudes 240 billion metric tons of carbon, destroys an ecosystem and costs us the chance to reverse global warming for the greater good?

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The Canadian tar sands in question are located in Alberta, and could bring about disastrous consequences for the Boreal Forest, one of the largest intact ecosystems in the world. Constructing this pipeline will not only release large amounts of carbon, but also destroy the homes of indigenous groups and spoil the water and land where they thrive.

Because Canada is a reliable and friendly country, sourcing crude oil from them allows politicians to play the “energy independence” card once again. But how is sourcing oil from a foreign country energy independent? We are still reliant on their output for our countries gain.

Supporters claim that the construction of Keystone XL will create jobs for struggling Americans. However, according to a study done by Cornell University, the pipeline will ultimately result in fewer jobs than TransCanada claims due to “additional fuel costs in the Midwest, pipeline spills, pollution and the rising costs of climate change.”

Other supporters claim that if we don’t commit to the project, China will. And if China gets their hands on the bitumen they will process it more crudely than American refineries.

But it is likely that China and other foreign countries will still have access to the oil coming from Canada through Keystone XL. According to reports from the Natural Resources Defense Council, the oil is going through the United States, not to it. This oil will be exported from the Gulf of Mexico where buyers are not required to pay U.S. taxes and where the price of oil is raised internationally.

Since the oil currently being pumped to the Midwest will be diverted to Texas, the pipeline will force Americans to see an increased price at the pump. Shrinking the supply to the Midwest, where most consumers get their oil from, will drastically change American gas prices for the worst.

Regardless of all the contention concerning the pipeline, the area is likely to be extracted. The hope is that if the U.S. rejects TransCanada’s proposal it will slow the excavation of the Canadian tar sands.

All of the reasons given to the U.S. to go through with constructing Keystone XL are faulty and put our country in an unfair position.

America should prevent the mining of the Canadian tar sands because it would put a bullet through the heart of our planet’s future.

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