4.16 The Keystone XL Pipeline, Black Snake or Deliverer of Prosperity?

My 10 year old son's class was read a book by their teacher called We Are Water Protectors.  In it an oil pipeline is described as a black snake that leaks and poisons the water supply.  Are oil pipelines that carry black crude oil, like terrible black snakes that poison our water supply or are they a safe way to deliver prosperity and wealth?  I did some research to find out.

Beneath the wilds of northern Alberta’s boreal forest is a sludgy, sticky deposit called tar sands. These sands contain bitumen, a gooey type of petroleum that can be converted into fuel.

The Keystone pipeline delivers that crude fuel from Canada to fuel refineries in the United States that convert it into fuel that can be used to heat buildings and to power trucks and factories.  According to the Lakota law project pipelines leak all the time.  They wrote that "the Keystone pipeline, ... ruptured in the last week of Oct., 2019, causing over 383,000 gallons of oil to contaminate surrounding wetlands."  They also wrote that: "Public concerns over dangerous pipeline leaks are far from ungrounded, as more than 1,650 individual leaks have occurred in the U.S. since 2010, spilling more than 11.5 million gallons of oil."  This is a lot but trucks and trains have had more leaks than pipelines.  On the other hand pipeline spills can be bigger.

Trans-Canada the company who owns the Keystone pipeline proposed extending it so that it could carry a lot more oil to market.  They called the extension the Keystone XL pipeline.  They applied for permission from the United States government to build the pipeline.  The U.S. conducted two lengthy and thorough environmental impact studies that concluded that the XL pipeline would be safe. 

If the Lakota law project people are correct and pipelines leak all the time and if the Keystone pipeline already leaked in October 2019 it makes one wonder how environmental impact studies could conclude that the pipeline would be safe.  Maybe it is because the company making the pipeline Trans Canada planned to make it the safest pipeline in North America.  They planned to use high carbon steel which is hard to puncture and which is corrosion resistant.  They planned to coat the pipe with epoxy which would add more corrosion resistance.  They planned to put shutoff valves every 20 miles and extra valves in locations where the pipe crossed water to ensure that if there was a leak the oil flow would be cut off quickly.  They planned to keep an eye on the pipeline with satellites and to install 13,500 sensors to detect leakage.

Despite the conclusion of the environmental impact studies President Obama vetoed the pipeline.  The video below was made before he vetoed it.




When president Trump came to office he approved the pipeline.  Trump talks about that in the video below.


Neal Craptree is one of many people who lost his job when President Biden signed a decree cancelling the Keystone Pipeline.  He talks about it in the video below.


Neal mentioned that 11,000 people immediately lost their jobs when President Biden ended the pipeline.  In the long run more people lost because the pipeline would have lowered the price of energy and the lower the price of energy is the more money is left in the economy to create jobs.  The Democrats say in the video that their plan to spend money to combat climate change and build infrastructure to do so (electric cars, electric power stations, windmills, solar panels, batteries) will provide jobs for people like Mr. Craptree.  Politicians who want to spend the public's money almost always make that promise and the promise is always broken.  That's because the money they spend has to come from job creators.  It either comes from taxing people and companies or siphoning off their purchasing power by printing money.  Those companies can't hire as many people after that and people can't buy things and provide the money for jobs to make those things.  It's also because the government is spending money on replacing cheap energy with expensive forms of energy and energy infrastructure.  That means less money for jobs.

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In 2006 a movie called An Inconvenient Truth was made that showed that the ice in Greenland was melting fast.  If it keeps melting what will happen?

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