Keystone Xl Pipeline : A Step Backwards

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PHY-100-002HY 21/10/15 Keystone XL Pipeline: A Step Backwards The debate regarding the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline is one that we must look at very carefully, as this proposed project not only affects the petroleum industry, but has greater far-reaching consequences that many people may not be aware of. Some of the primary concerns raised against the project are safety, effects on the climate, and the impact it will have on the economy in America and abroad. To discuss the safety of the pipelines, it is important to make the distinction between traditional crude oil and the tar sands that are to be transported using the pipeline. Tar sands, unlike oil, are composed of a mixture of different substances: clay, sand, water, and…show more content…
The condensate vaporizes from liquid to gas.” (cleanhouston.org) We know the risks involved in pumping crude oil and the potential damage it may cause if mishandled, but by comparison, the mixture of tar sands seems to be much more difficult to manage if the pipeline does experience spillage - it will be a lot more difficult to deal with the carcinogenic gas released into the atmosphere. As it stands, the potential for accidents to occur is greater with tar sands than with crude oil. Not only would the Keystone XL Pipeline pose a safety issue, it would also pose a threat to the issue of climate change. The aforementioned process of refining tar sands requires a large amount of energy - even more than the processes used for crude oil. It is also important to mention that processing tar sands will emit enormous amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, contributing to the growing issue of climate change. According to The Environmental Protection Agency, the “tar sands greenhouse gas emissions are 81 percent greater than those of conventional oil.” (nrdc.org) The reasoning for this is all in the extraction method. While crude oil can be obtained by means of strip mining - removing layers of rock and soil, tar sands are obtained by even more harmful methods. In order for tar sands extraction to be profitable to these companies, they must use a technique involving injecting steam underground in order to efficiently

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