By Rachel Roberts
Highly controversial, and heavily debated, the Keystone Pipeline was finally voted on by congress last Tuesday. The bill was narrowly rejected with 59 votes in favor and 41 against; 60 were needed for the bill to proceed. Thomas Steyer, the founder of the environmental advocacy group NextGen Climate said in a statement regarding the vote that “today, the U.S. Senate decided to stand on the right side of history. This is a legacy-defining issue where one’s position signifies whether they are standing up for or against the next generation on the issue of climate.”
Mr. Steyer’s statement regarding the Keystone Pipeline is exactly right. It was not just a vote on whether or not tar sands would be transported across the United States from Canada to the Gulf; it was a vote reflecting our stance on climate change, greenhouse gases, water quality, and land use.
We should let this vote represent a turning point in American Energy Policy as one moving away from fossil fuels, to one invested in sustainable energy Let tar sand oil remain in the ground, and instead create jobs repairing aging infrastructure, and developing new, clean and sustainable energy.
Even the President himself recently said that he has to “constantly push back against the idea that Keystone is either a massive jobs bill for the U.S. or is somehow lowering gas prices. Understand what the project is, it will provide the ability for Canada to pump their oil and send It through their land down to the Gulf where it will be sold everywhere else.”
Oil is only valuable if producers are able to transport it to a market where it can be sold. A pipeline would be the least expensive way for TransCanada to do so. Thus, the XL Keystone Pipeline could provide massive economic gains for oil companies, especially TransCanada, but remains questionably beneficial to most of the United States.
Producing oil as a result from tar sands produces about 17 percent more greenhouse gases than does traditional oil drilling. Furthermore, although it may generate about 42,000 jobs, and 2 billion dollars in earnings (some facts and figures are currently disputed), the pipeline would only create about 50 permanent jobs.
The continued use of oil and coal, perpetuated by the advancement of the XL Keystone Pipeline, will only continue to harm the planet—and later ourselves. Although this vote served as a victory for the environmental movement, we need to remind our elected officials how seriously we take environmental pollution, and the negative effects it has on our planet, our livelihood, and future generations. Many republicans hope to bring the bill back in January once the new Senate reconvenes. Let’s not let these senators forget who they represent, and what issues are important to the people.
Brady, Jeff, and Scott Horsely. “What You Need To Know About The Keystone XL Oil Pipeline.” NPR. NPR, 17 Nov. 2014. Web. 20 Nov. 2014. <http://www.npr.org/2014/11/17/364727163/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-keystone-xl-oil-pipeline>.
Casey-Lefkowitz, Susan. “Senate Rejects Bid to Force Approval of Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 18 Nov. 2014. Web. 20 Nov. 2014. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/susan-caseylefkowitz/senate-rejects-bid-to-for_b_6181858.html?utm_hp_ref=green>.
Davenport, Coral. “Keystone Pipeline Pros, Cons and Steps to a Final Decision.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 18 Nov. 2014. Web. 20 Nov. 2014. <http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/19/us/politics/what-does-the-proposed-keystone-xl-pipeline-entail.html>.
Davenport, Coral, and Ashley Parker. “Senate Narrowly Defeats Keystone XL Pipeline.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 18 Nov. 2014. Web. 20 Nov. 2014. <http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/19/us/politics/keystone-xl-pipeline.html>.
Saenz, Arlette. “Keystone Pipeline Fails to Get Through Senate.” ABC News. ABC News Network, 18 Nov. 2014. Web. 20 Nov. 2014. <http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/keystone-pipeline-fails-senate/story?id=27005358>.