The April 25 editorial “Slippery Non-Decision” about the Keystone XL pipeline came to the wrong conclusion for the wrong reasons. The editorial states that the reasons for building the pipeline are for energy independence and jobs, and it should be approved. After temporary jobs needed for construction, only 35 permanent jobs will be needed to operate the pipeline. The pipeline will not contribute to energy independence since most of the tar sands oil will be refined into diesel fuel and will be shipped to China. The primary gains achieved will be those seen by TransCanada corporation.
This is to be weighed against the potential problems with a pipeline across the United States’ heartland. The contents will not be normal crude oil but will be diluted bitumen (dilbit), oil that is too thick to flow and is therefore diluted with other petroleum products so it can be pumped into the pipeline. The bitumen will sink after the inevitable leaks, thus making cleanup of any spills very difficult, if not impossible. The pipeline will cross many rivers and streams and also crosses the Ogallala Aquifer, which is the primary water source for much of the food that is grown in the United States. The consequences of a major spill into that aquifer could do untold damage.
Also the tar sands oil is very high in carbon and will contribute large amounts of CO2 to the atmosphere, thus adding to global warming problems. This oil should be left in the ground.?