Keystone XL Pipeline is a project proposed that is expected to offer energy security to the US and strengthen its economy. The crude oil pipeline is expected to cover 1,897 kilometers and estimated to be of 36 inches in diameter. The pipeline is expected to run from Hardisty, Alberta to Steele city in Nebraska. The pipeline is also expected to improve the American economy by opening up the American Midwest markets and the markets found along the Gulf Coast of the US. The Keystone system consists of different operational phases that include phase I, II and III, the Gulf Coast project and a projected division, phase IV. The pipeline project gives American and Canadian companies that produce oil easy access to great refining markets. In the year 2012, TransCanada had requested a permit from the US government to allow them build a pipeline across their border as it progressed with the Gulf Coast Pipeline project (Canada, 2010). The pipeline is expected to transport a capacity of up to 830,000 oil barrels to the Midwest refineries and the Gulf Coast. America is likely to benefit as its dependence on the Middle East and Venezuela oil will be reduced. This project is, therefore, likely to bring about economic growth and development in the US. Erecting the Keystone pipeline is anticipated to have negative effects on the environment.
Erecting the Keystone pipelines will result to the exposure of the tar sands that will have a negative impact on the environment. Researches show that disposing of the recoverable tar sands through burning will tend to increase the global temperature by a minimum of 3 degree Celsius. Trying to curb the resultant temperature effects will result to diverted financial resources that will cut off the Gross Domestic Product by 3%. The oil sands could act as a gateway to emission of extreme carbon fossil fuels. Some oil sands contain coal substances that are high in carbon components and could lead to extreme pollution (Avery, 2013).
The Interior Department based in the US also warns that the construction of the pipeline may disrupt wildlife and have damaging effects. Though the department argues that the effects may be short term, the wildlife living around the area of construction is likely to disrupt the ecological balance. Operation and maintenance activities are likely to be carried out throughout the project meaning that the habitats for wildlife will be interfered with permanently. The harms likely to be caused include; an increase in electrocutions due to collisions with energy lines, increased nest parasitism, increased predation degrees as well as increase in poaching. Poaching rare species of wildlife could lead to extinction of these animals; therefore, the construction of the pipeline will have negative effects on the wildlife (United States & Walker, 2014).
The establishment of the pipeline is likely to lead to the emission of greenhouse gases through the greenhouse gas effect. The greenhouse effect is defined as a process in which exceptional radiant heat reaches the earth. The effects of greenhouse gases may be devastating. They have effects on the rising of the sea level, occurrence of less ice and snow as well as supplemented drought and flooding. The greenhouse gases may also affect the weather incidents and interfere with the structure of climatic seasons. Temperature rises when the weather warms up and leads to a matching effect in evaporation from both sea and land. In some regions, an increase in temperature will lead to increased drought that may lead to famine and crop failure. The existence of high humidity due to higher evaporation will cause flooding in other parts of the globe. In relation to less ice and snow, increase in temperatures leads to shrinking of glaciers and melting of ice. Areas that depend on meltwater for survival could be affected severely by inadequate domestic supply of water as well as drought (Yuan & United States, 2011).
The pipeline project may lead to oil spills that have severe short term and long term effects on the environment. The effect of an oil spill may have variations in devastation regarding the magnitude of the oil spilled. Its nature of the interaction with the environment also influences the side effects likely to be experienced. Ecological attributes, as well as, the current weather conditions will determine the effects it will have on the microorganisms and small animals found on the surface of the environment. Oil spills may also interfere with the nutrients found in the soil by reacting chemically. These reactions could produce harmful substances that kill crops and microorganisms. The reactions may depend on the species’ sensitivity to oil effluence. Oil leaks may also impact the surroundings through chemical toxicity, ecological changes and physical choking of organisms by heavy oils (United States, 2011).
Construction of the Keystone pipeline may lead to displacement of people and their settlements. Due to cost cutting incentives, the pipeline company will want to lay out pipes at very minimum costs and shortest distances possible. This act of resettlement may lead to poor compensation to some people compared to the value of land they leave behind. Most people are rigid to changes and would, therefore, tend to cause complications in issues of resettlements.
Avery, S. (2013). The pipeline and the paradigm: Keystone XL, tar sands, and the battle to defuse the carbon bomb.
Canada. (2010). Reasons for decision in the matter of TransCanada Keystone Pipeline GP Ltd: Section 52 application dated 27 February 2009 for the Keystone XL Pipeline Project. Calgary, AB: Canada. National Energry Board.
United States. (2011). Draft environmental impact statement, Keystone XL Project: Applicant for Presidential permit, TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, LP. Washington DC: the Dept.
United States, & Walker, G. (2014). Final supplemental environmental impact statement for the Keystone XL Project: Applicant for presidential permit TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, LP.
Yuan, A., & United States. (2011). Supplemental draft environmental impact statement for the Keystone XL Project: Application for Presidential permit, TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, LP. Washington, DC: United States Dept. of State, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.