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Keystone XL Oil Pipeline Worse for Environment than Previously Understood

Keystone XL 300x200 Keystone XL Oil Pipeline Worse for Environment than Previously UnderstoodThe environmental group Oil Change International (OCI) analyzed the climate change impacts of the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline and discovered that it would move so much tar sands oil that 181 million metric tons of greenhouse gases would be emitted annually.

In stark contrast, US State Department consultants had previously maintained that completing the pipeline would have zero impact on greenhouse gas emissions because it was assumed the tar sands oil would flow anyway.

OCI’s new report challenges the State Department’s assertion that the tar sands oil would flow anyway. Alberta, Canada is where the tar sands are stranded and there are few good pipeline prospects there. Options like train or truck are not realistic for such huge quantities. The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) says that using any other transportation form other than a pipeline would triple the cost of moving the oil.

However, if the pipeline moves forward and 830,000 barrels of tar sands oil flows south every day, climatologists say the results will be unacceptable. These climatologists are concerned that governments are allowing the development of any fossil fuel that is found, including unconventional oil like tar sands and shale oil.

Experts predict that Keystone’s 300 million barrels a year would result in more pollution than 37.7 million passenger cars could emit.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that Keystone XL tar sands oil could cause a level of greenhouse gas emissions to rise to 27 million metric tons annually, compared with conventional oil. The tar sands oil would be a substantial amount of potential carbon emissions, and carbon emissions from tar sands have already increased by 16 % since 2009. Keystone would increase this already alarming rate.

Opponents to the pipeline hope the Obama administration will reject the Keystone XL Pipeline proposal, and stress the social ramifications, property loss, agricultural impacts, and health care and believe the social cost could amount to $4.5 billion per year.

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About the author

Leigh is a Senior Technical Communicator working in the energy sector in Dallas, Texas. Prior to her work in the energy industry, Leigh spent years specializing in life saving engineering projects for the US Department of Defense. In her spare time, Leigh pursues her passions of environmental awareness, vegan baking, dog rescue, and defending the place of art, literature, and music in a world that values science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

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