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Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Keystone XL Pipeline’s Dirty Secrets

What Republicans Don’t Want You to Know

During the course of last three years, we’ve had many accidental oil spills stemming from pipelines. These events are casting more shadows over the already controversial “Keystone XL Pipeline”, which thanks to President Obama’s veto hopefully will stay buried.

Here is a little history on some other pipeline spills:

The “Shell” Pipeline had to shut down their operations in Texas when thousands of gallons of “dirty oil” spilled from a pipeline near Houston.  The oil then made its way through the bayou and ultimately into the Gulf of Mexico. It was estimated that approximately 50,000 gallons of dirty oil was spilled.

The “Exxon/Mobile Pegasus pipeline” also had a spill which dumped thousands of gallons into Conway Lake which is located in the small town of Mayflower Arkansas, about 25 miles north of Little Rock. Authorities were forced to evacuate residents from their homes.

Nearby graduate students from The University of Central Arkansas that had been cleaning the animals noted that there is a major difference between crude oil and tar sands, also known as “dirty oil”. The dirty oil that was coating the land and animals was much thicker and seems to cause blistering of the skin at a much higher rate than “crude oil”.

Wait; there is more … 

Seems the folks at Exxon/Mobile claimed to be exempt from taxes that would support the “Oil Liability Trust Fund”, (which is a fund that is set up so we already have monies in place in the event of such emergencies) because the IRS doesn’t count tar sand as “conventional oil”. 

So, reading between the lines, once again we’re forced to not only deal with the devastation, but also had to pay for its cleanup!

Another spill was located in northern Ontario and dumped roughly 17,000 gallons of the dirty oil when a Canadian Pacific Railway, Ltd. freight train derailed, which has become all too common.

There is much heated discussion as to if it’s the pipelines themselves that are so dangerous, or what’s in them. 

There is a major difference between crude oil and pipeline sand tar oil, which again, is not even considered oil by The United States. 

It’s a pleasant mixture of some lovely chemicals like diluted bitumen, or as it’s called “Dilbit”. 

According to the Scientific American, with the use of Dilbit – a heavy oil (sludge) extracted from the tar sands of northern Alberta pose more of a risk compared to conventional crude because it must be heated to much higher temperatures, which has been linked to increased corrosion of the pipe itself. It also flows at a much higher pressure, which may also help contribute to these simple little mishaps.

Here is a brief explanation; tar sands are not in a liquid form, they are not pumped from the ground like traditional sources of the liquid gold, but rather mined. To make this even more complicated, in order to get the oil out of the tar sands it would require extraction, separation and refining. Then, it’s moved through the pipeline.

Studies have also linked American’s failing infrastructure and the use of Dilbit to many of the spills. I’m only citing three but this is not a rare occurrence and happens quite often, you just don’t hear about it.

The Keystone XL Pipeline, while thankfully on hold for it’s expansion, currently carries oil from Canada into the United States, and is ultimately used for export, not consumption. It travels to terminals in Illinois, Nebraska and Oklahoma. The massive Keystone XL pipeline would have added new routes that would bring it from our Canadian borders all the way to Texas, then out the door.

The pipe, which would have only create approximately 5000 temporary jobs that would only last during the construction phase, and only yield about 300 permanent positions. Yes, great idea Republicans, lets further damage our environment so we can create 300 jobs and continue to help pad the pockets of huge corporations and politicians so they can export the sludge.

More importantly, the line itself would have traveled over the “Ogallala Aquifer,” which is an underground lake that provides clean drinking water to millions of Americans and also irrigates about 20% of our agriculture.

Seems like just yesterday when the anti-Obama crowd was moaning about him putting the brakes on Keystone XL.   Nebraska politicians, whose state is dependent on the water from the Ogallala Aquifer, have been very outspoken about rerouting the pipeline. 

I mean come on now, since 2014 the Keystone pipeline has only failed about 24 times, and based on its track record, it’s estimated that it will continue to fail at least two times a year. It will also add to our current air pollution problem by releasing more greenhouse gas emissions and toxic fumes! 

I for one can certainly see why people were outraged that we stopped and took a look around and ultimately the expansion was vetoed.

So, to wrap this up; we would have created almost no new jobs, don’t consume the product, cause catastrophic messes and a good portion of the profits go to the Canadian based TransCanada, while this process does absolutely nothing to lower our dependency on fossil fuels or even lower gas prices.

President Obama has acknowledged climate change as one of humanity’s most challenging issues, so I’m thankful he continues to stand his ground and rejects the expansion of the Keystone XL Pipeline .

Nancy Feldman is a political and news columnist with a background in TV and film production. Follow her on Twitter @nygchicklet