In November, the U.S. Senate narrowly failed to pass the hotly debated bill that would have finally seen the construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, a measure that had been approved in the House just a week before.
Keystone XL Pipeline
The Keystone XL pipeline is an extension of TransCanada’s existing Keystone pipeline. The extension would stretch across 1,664 miles and transport 830,000 of crude oil per day from Canada to Texas.
Keystone XL Pipeline Proponents
Some, like the Canadian government, oil companies and unions are in favor of the project and claim it will create jobs and facilitate the flow of oil from a friendly ally and neighbor into the United States. Refineries in the gulf coast are particularly attracted to receiving heavy crude from Canada because they’ve already invested a lot of money to upgrade their facilities to process the oil.
Local politicians and residents in North Dakota and Montana also heavily support the project because the pipeline would mean they could begin shipping shale oil – the stuff they are extracting from the Bakken Formation in each state – to the Texas refineries.
Keystone XL Pipeline Opposition
Many environmentalists and landowners along the proposed route oppose the pipeline because they feel it will contribute to the emission of greenhouse gases by expanding production in Canada’s oil sands. The extraction of bitumen emits roughly 15% more greenhouse gas emissions than the production of a typical barrel of crude oil we use here in the United States. Bitumen is a low-grade type of petroleum found in the oil sands. Climate experts argue that if oil is continuously extracted from the oil sands, it would be a “game over” situation as far as ever stabilizing the climate.
Opponents also feel the Keystone pipeline will make it incredibly difficult for America to transition away from fossil fuels and toward more sustainable energy sources like solar and wind power.
We Haven’t Heard the Last of the Keystone XL Pipeline
Though the debate seems to have ended, republicans have vowed to reopen the political wound in the new year, once they take control of Congress, and that will no doubt begin a very messy veto confrontation with President Obama.
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