Problems With the Keystone XL Pipeline

Exporting dirty fuel to the word market, transporting corrosive tar sands oil, and potentially contaminating sensitive habitats are just a few problems with the Keystone XL pipeline that citizens, environmentalists and U.S. politicians are debating.
By Kale Roberts
February/March 2014
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Many protestors around the United States are voicing concerns about the Keystone XL pipeline.
Photo courtesy TarSandsAction/Milan Ilnyckyj

Oil from tar sands is particularly corrosive and, therefore, problematic to transport safely by pipeline. A proposed oil pipeline that would transect six U.S. states in order to transport tar sands oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast has cleaved its way into the center of U.S. political debate about the wisest course for future energy policy.

If approved, the 1,179-mile Keystone XL pipeline would carry about 1 million barrels of crude oil a day from Alberta, Canada, to refineries in Texas, crossing sensitive bioregions such as Nebraska’s Sandhills and the Ogallala Aquifer. Although TransCanada, the company heading up the project, touts the pipeline’s potential to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil and to create jobs, opponents warn a massive influx of crude would push the United States to export dirty fuel to the world market, do nothing to increase U.S. energy security, and sustain fewer than 40 permanent jobs, all while threatening the environment. Whether to approve Keystone XL falls to President Obama, who, at press time, has yet to make a decision. To read the project’s Environmental Impact Statement, which provides detailed discussion of problems with the Keystone XL pipeline along with public comments, visit the U.S. Department of State Keystone XL Pipeline Project.

Kale Roberts is an assistant editor of MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine. His interests include renewable energy, real food and sustainable rural development. You can find him on .

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2/20/2014 8:22:16 PM
Linda, don't reply to the trolls...

2/18/2014 11:30:30 PM
I support the Keystone XL Pipeline. By researching it the environmental impact is minimum. It creates a lot of jobs. Helps stop are dependency on middle eastern countries. May help lower gas prices.

2/16/2014 10:54:45 AM
Richard H., this was a very unintelligent and unproductive comment and a waste of time to all readers of this blog. As a Colorado resident,I believe our time would be better used discussing the facts instead of making vindictive and threatening comments. The facts are that all of the independent studies have indicated there would be little to no impact on the environment. Make no mistake, this oil is going to be brought out of the earth and transported somewhere, whether we like it or not. To be independent of middle eastern oil would be a blessing and a boom to the thousands of jobless. I would rather the US benefit from this alliance with Canada, instead of China.

2/15/2014 11:08:23 AM
I say shut down all drilling and oil production and let the ignorant bastards freeze in the dark...

2/15/2014 8:32:11 AM
How about the fact that many high profile liberals protest the pipeline because they have vested interests in opposing companies? Don't let them fool, you the only thing they oppose is the dent to their own pocket books. They care little to none about environment or their constituents. There have been numerous independent studies done all saying the impact is little to none.

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