The Craving for Oil: The Keystone XL Pipeline

Keystone Cartoonby Josh Wehrbein

The Keystone XL Pipeline has become one of the most controversial and debated topics in U.S politics today, a constant battle between both environmentalists and the fossil fuel industry. According to the U.S. Department of State, if approved, the Keystone XL Pipeline would stretch from Hardisty, Alberta, Canada to Moore Junction, Texas, carrying nearly 700,000 barrels of crude oil per day to refineries along the Gulf Coast (“Environmental Impact OF The Keystone XL Project” 296). Today, the southernmost portion of the pipeline has been approved, while the northern segment that would pass through Nebraska, still awaits authorization (“Introduction and Background” 6). From this point forward any discussion concerning the “pipeline” will be understood as the northern segment.

Americans would be involved and affected by the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline in three crucial, yet different ways: money, jobs, and energy security. It is for these reasons that the United States government should approve the Keystone XL Pipeline. Although each of these reasons are significant, one in particular stands out in my mind, and that is energy security. For starters, anyone who drives any type of motor vehicle is involved. Now, most of us drive some type of motor vehicle on a daily basis. Imagine for a moment if there was no oil to produce gas to fuel our cars, such as in the gas scare of the 1970’s where people could not purchase fuel for their cars because there was a shortage of oil. This would prove to be a major problem for the majority of Americans because many of us rely on our car on a daily basis. Who would have thought that something as large as the Keystone XL Pipeline could have an effect on something as simple as driving a car?

Most Nebraskans tend to be against the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline because of their concern for the Ogallala Aquifer. The pollution of the Ogallala Aquifer due to a potential leak within the Keystone Pipeline is one of the largest issues contributing to the delay of its approval. Nebraskans, along with Midwesterners in general heavily rely upon the aquifer as a water source for both drinking and irrigation purposes. As a farm kid from rural Cass County Nebraska I can understand this concern, as I was also against it at one point. Though through extensive research I have come to understand that with the technology incorporated into the Keystone Pipeline, the likelihood of a leak is very small and could be controlled very quickly. One particularly interesting and important piece of this technology includes state-of-the-art electronic shut off valves that sense when oil is leaked, and then inhibits the oil flow to the leaking section of pipe. It is for this reason, along with the benefits and the need this country has for a domestic source of oil, that I support the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

The construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline would provide the U.S. with energy security, meaning the United States would not have to depend as heavily on foreign, less friendly countries for its oil supply. For example, the United States could decrease the amount of oil imported from countries such as Mexico and Venezuela. The direct supply of crude oil via the Keystone XL Pipeline would also be of benefit to U.S. refineries because it would create direct access to a reliable supply of oil, from a friendly source (“Keystone XL Pipeline Overview” 292). The pipeline would be an alternative to transporting oil across the ocean, which unfortunately entails high risks because of potential oil spills. According to the “Keystone XL Pipeline Overview” article, “These arguments [U.S. energy security arguments] have taken on additional weight in light of the ongoing political unrest in the Middle East, which has disrupted oil production in Libya, a significant oil exporter, and has caused a spike in global crude oil prices” (“Keystone XL Pipeline Overview” 292-293). Energy security can also come into play on a personal level. As mentioned earlier, something as simple as driving a car is affected by energy security, because as individuals we are dependent on the U.S. to provide a source of oil for refineries, which produce gas, which we use to fuel our cars.

The Keystone XL Pipeline would be extremely beneficial to the United States from both an economic and energy security aspect. The chances of a pipeline leak is very low and could be controlled very quickly if it were to happen. Along with energy security, the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline would also create thousands of jobs, boost the economy, and generate millions of dollars in government revenue. Who wouldn’t want that? As quoted by astronaut Neil Armstrong, “There can be no great accomplishment without risk” (Rosenberg 2). This statement says it all. So support the Keystone XL Pipeline today to ensure domestic energy security along with thousands of jobs for America’s future generations.

Works Cited

“Environmental Impact Of The Keystone XL Project.” Congressional Digest 90.10 (2011): 296-  320. Academic Search Premier. Web. 19 Sept. 2013.

“Keystone XL Pipeline Overview.” Congressional Digest 90.10 (2011): 290-295. Academic         Search Premier. Web. 19 Sept. 2013.

“Introduction and Background.” Nebraska. Department of Environmental Quality. Nebraska:       Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality. 2012: 1-18. Print. 3 Oct. 2013

Rosenberg, Jennifer. “History Quotes.” About.com. About.com, n.d. Web. 3 Dec 2013.

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6 thoughts on “The Craving for Oil: The Keystone XL Pipeline

  1. Great article! I also believe that the pipeline should be approved! There are already thousands of miles of pipelines crisscrossing the United States. Many of those going through Nebraska!

  2. Fun anecdote: Back when this was a hot button issue just in Nebraska, before it was taken to the national level, Keystone started playing ads on the radio to garner support for the pipeline. There was one time I was listening, and one of those ads played, claiming how safe and secure the pipeline was designed to be, and then a news story started playing and it was about an oil leak in a keystone pipeline that they couldn’t shut off for like 20 hours because they didn’t know it was happening. I always thought the coincidence was a little funny.

    Anyway, I don’t understand why the pipeline needs to go through the area the aquifer drains. I realize it’s the shortest path, and therefore the cheapest and easiest, but at this point wouldn’t it be better to route it a different way, so it didn’t have any chance of hitting the deepest part of the aquifer, and Keystone could also get it done without spending tons of money garnering support and lobbying to have it built? I dunno, that’s my two cents on the issue.

  3. This article was very interesting to read and to be honest, I did not have much pre-knowledge of the Keystone XL Pipeline. You make some very intriguing points as to why the pipeline should be approved and after reading this article I agree that it should. What concerns me the most (and clearly many other Midwesterners) is the possibility of an oil leak that could contaminate our water supply. On the other hand, I would be happy to see less oil being transported across the ocean, in the hopes that this could lower the chances for oil spills which pollute natural habitats and animals living in them. Overall a very well done article!

  4. I enjoyed reading this article, it was well written and informative of the facts of he pipe line. I agree with your stance on the pipeline. The pipe will create jobs in our country and also help strengthen international relationships. I like that you were able to connect your article to the audience.

  5. Overall, this paper was written nicely. I agree that the Keystone XL Pipeline will be very beneficial to the United States. The only major problem would be if the pipeline were to leak. That may cause the economy to have a downfall. In my opinion, the Keystone XL Pipeline should be built in the United States because it would provide employment and help the economy grow.

  6. As a fellow Nebraskan I also share your concern about the potential that the pipeline could leak and possibly pollute a vital source of fresh water. A well written piece with lots of detail and concern on the subject.

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