For those of you who think the Keystone Pipeline project is something that’s been created by President Donald Trump, think again because it already exists. Currently it covers a whopping 2,000 miles or more starting in Hardisty, Alberta stretching all the way down to Houston, Texas where it splits across to Nederland as well.
It doesn’t travel in a straight line either. Turning at almost right angles, it goes East to Elm Creek, Manitoba before it heads down again through to Steele City, Nebraska. If that wasn’t “wobbly” enough for you, at Steel City it goes East again across to a couple of villages located in South Illinois. Given the difficult accessibility of the pipeline route, I’ll bet it left a few construction guys scratching their heads over which chainsaw to get next, or which excavator would be small yet powerful enough to get there.
When you hear the term Keystone XL, this is what’s new as far as the project goes and is the brain child created by TransCanada Corporation. If it’s to be completed the project will mean building a new pipeline which goes in a completely different direction to the current route. Essentially a shortcut will be created starting in Hardisty before continuing south to Baker, Montana and finally reaching it’s end in Steele City.
The proposal doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the previous project, so the original pipeline will still be in use. However, the new one will have larger pipes than the older one. This is because bitumen will be sent through it, and as you probably know this stuff is as sticky as molasses! In fact, before it can be transported it has to be diluted by mixing it with a lighter oil.
Obama Wasn’t Happy With Keystone XL
I’m not going to get heavily political because for me, what side you “bat” for is as personal a decision as which religion you follow. That said, I do feel the need to explain why the Obama administration outright rejected the proposal from TransCanada.
Many people think it was because of the environmental impact. What’s known as dirty bitumen would be processed and then burned, contributing towards climate change. Plus, there was the issue of spills due to leaks which wouldn’t help either.
However, there were more reasons for the government at the time to reject the project. The amount of jobs it was to create for instance were vastly over estimated and they wouldn’t have been permanent anyway. The steel used to construct it wouldn’t have been sourced locally, and the oil used was half owned by a Saudi Arabian company.
America Wouldn’t Benefit
Aside from the reasons above which prove that America and its people wouldn’t benefit from the construction of Keystone XL, the economy as a whole wouldn’t either. In fact, Canada would stand to take more from the project. The main reason for this is the oil that will be transported belongs to Canada and there will be more jobs in the country as a result (even though they would be temporary).
Before you think the Trump administration has gone a bit mad (and I would forgive you for it), it is in negotiation over these issues. For example, it wants the steel to come from the U.S and not Canada or India. Plus, it wants some sort profit share deal on the oil.
Is It a Confident U-Turn?
There are two sides to this argument. On one hand the economy in America could benefit if negotiations are successful in favor of the Trump administration and we all know this is something that’s badly needed in the country at the moment. On the other hand, it still means we would be relying on energy produced from fossil fuels rather than clean energy.
This isn’t good for climate change or the environment in general and sends us in the opposite direction with regards to clean energy projects. It’s not just the environment we should be concerned with either because investing in renewable energy projects would ultimately help the American economy long-term whereas Keystone XL is only for the short-term.
Is It Possible to Find Another Way?
Other modes of transport for bitumen have been discussed like rail, boat and road but these carry risks that are considered to be higher than if a pipeline is used. Rail for instance can contain a spill, but carriages are at risk of exploding, and what could happen on the roads would be disastrous.
I guess the best thing the average person can do is to watch this space.