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The Controversial Issue of the Keystone XL Pipeline

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The Keystone XL Pipeline has been a major controversial issue in the news lately regarding the expansion of a pipeline from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. This pipeline will cross six states including Montana, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Texas. This pipeline will transport 830,000 barrels of crude tar sands oil to the United States. Despite the immediately benefits for the economy with the installation, the decision is to decline the Keystone XL Pipeline proposal. This decision is based mainly on two factors: the environment and the economy in the long run.

One of the main objections to the Keystone XL Pipeline is the amount of greenhouse gases (GHG) it will release. James Hansen, one of the most-respected climate scientists at NASA, said, “The tar sands of Canada constitute a deadly threat to our planet.” He explains that producing oil from tar sands result two-to-three times GHG than conventional oil. It is projected that during the construction period 0.24 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (MMTCO2e) will be released per year. During operations, “1.44 MMTCO2e would be emitted per year...The total lifecycle emissions associated with production, refining, and combustion of 830,000 barrels per day of oil sands crude will release 147 to 168 MMTCO2e per year.” These numbers add up to a potential increase of 200 parts per million (ppm) in the atmosphere. According to Hansen, the safe level of GHG in the atmosphere is 350 ppm, and

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