The Keystone XL debate steps up a gear



By Anders Lorenzen


If there is one thing advocates of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline don’t need on their hands right now its an oil spill from another tar sands oil pipeline, but that is exactly what they have just got.

The Exxon owned ‘Pegasus’ pipeline, which runs from Pakota in Illinois to Nederland in Texas and carries more than 90,000 barrels of oil a day, ruptured on Saturday near the town of Mayflower, leaking crude oil into it’s neighborhoods for over 45 minutes. At this point, Exxon are not yet clear how much oil has been spilt but say they have so far recovered 12,000 barrels of oil and water. One local resident recorded this video and this is what another resident’s garden looked like.

One residents garden after oil spill.

Environmentalists, such as Greenpeace USA’s CEO Philip Radford, have jumped at the chance to bring Keystone into the picture, pointing out that that if Obama were to approve it, this scene could be replicated across many communities in the US.

Senator Bernie Sanders, another opponent of Keystone, repeated on MSNBC why it should be rejected, reiterating that the pictures of the oil spill circulating on social media would only strengthen opposition.

Another well known opponent, NASA climatologist Dr. James Hansen, Monday announced his retirement from NASA in order to concentrate fully on fighting climate change. The 72 year old veteran scientist, who is also a well known activist, has taken part in several civil disobedience events to highlight the danger of tar sands and Keystone XL, which have earned him both criticism and praise in the scientific community. As he has put it  ‘’At my age I’m not worried about having an arrest record.’’

Up until the spill, it looked likely that Obama would approve Keystone XL but safety rather than CO2 emissions have always been his strongest argument for rejecting oil projects; these were the reasons he rejected the Keystone XL pipeline last year and ordered the review into Shell’s Alaskan Arctic drilling project. The big question now remains whether, in the wake of this recent spill, he is satisfied that Keystone XL can be built and run safely.

Sub edited by Kirstie Wielandt

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