Last week, President Obama vetoed the measure that would allow the construction of Phase IV of the Keystone Pipeline. Referred to as Keystone XL, Phase IV would create an additional pipeline from Alberta, Canada to Steele City, NE. There are a lot of environmental concerns regarding the pipeline including potential spills and increased greenhouse gas emissions. Though millions of dollars have been put into environmental impact research, a lot of the data are still inconclusive. In response to questions of environmental safety, TransCanada looked at different potential routes through Nebraska in order to avoid major water sources. Ultimately, all states involved in the construction of the new pipeline have approved a route.
There are several issues at stake when it comes to the Keystone XL pipeline. The oil that is to be transported for refinement comes from oil sands. Crude oil sand pollutes much more than conventional crude oil due to the additional energy required for the extracting process. However, research done by the Department of State shows that, if the pipeline is not built, significant amounts of the oil will be shipped by train. According to the Department of State, oil transported by rail will be more likely to cause environmental damage due to higher chances of spills.
Environmental safety is paramount, but as a society we should not discount the potential economic growth that could come from the pipeline. Projections have shown that nearly 20,000 jobs could be created in the construction of Keystone XL, and nearly seven billion dollars would be spent on the project. Without Keystone XL, the added expense of shipping the oil sands by train would not make it competitive against conventional crude oil. The influx of oil would help both Canadian and American economies.
If environmental and economic effects are not enough to think about, then consider the political effects of the Keystone XL. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has controlled oil prices for a long time. Though their primary purpose is to sell oil, they have significant political power in their ability to sway oil prices so drastically.
Currently, OPEC is competing against US production by maintaining oil prices below $50 per barrel. By purchasing more oil from Canada, the U.S. can further cut out Saudi Arabia and other OPEC countries that may not share all of its political interests. Over the past five years, the U.S. has slowly declined its purchase of oil from OPEC. With the Keystone XL, the number of barrels per day that the U.S. purchases from OPEC countries could decrease even more.
As oil prices continue to fall, it is possible that OPEC, Russia and Iran may lose political power as one of their main bargaining chips is further devalued.
I personally support the construction of the pipeline, as the positive economic effects seem to outweigh potential environmental hazards. There are a lot of things to consider when it comes to the Keystone XL pipeline. A majority of Americans are in support of its construction, but there are still a large number of those who object.
Regardless of the side we end up on, before we decry the Keystone XL project as dangerous, we should look at the available data and make an informed decision.
Hawkins is a senior majoring in business administration. He can be reached at email@example.com.