Pipelines! Pipelines! Pipelines! In the United States and Canada, climate change activists are fighting against pipeline projects such as the Keystone XL pipeline. Because the U.S. Senate had proposed a bill “that would expedite its approval and “short-circuit” the State Department’s pipeline environmental review,” the activists took part of a week- long protest movement. From March 16th to the 23rd, it was the “Week of Action to Stop Tar Sands Profiteers” for Americans and Canadian activists. There had been over thirty protests over the past week in several different U.S. states, all of which had been coordinated by fifty different grassroots organizations.
However, some of the protesters saw the riskier side of voicing their opinion. Thirty-seven protesters have been arrested “for disrupting business as usual at TransCanada and their investors’ offices, with more actions planned in the coming days.” In the opinion of many environmental activists, TransCanada’s “business as usual” means death and destruction for our communities.” On the Tar Sands Blockade website, they have been trying to spread the word and convince other citizens that: “Together we can stop this multinational corporate bully and their toxic profiteers.” They have also listed several TransCanada offices so that others can hold our own solidarity action for the week.
As the Tar Sands Blockade stated on Wednesday, March 20th, : “Organizers seek to expose green-washed corporations like TD Bank, a top shareholder in TransCanada, and force them to divest from the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.” Some of the highlights included: Hundreds of people occupying the TransCanada office in Westborough, Mass, holding a “Funeral for Our Future”, protesting at TD Bank branches , twelve people arrested for blockading a pipeline in upstate New York, and a bike tour in Portland, Oregon, that held a bike tour of the city’s worst polluters.
The native leaders from both Canada and the United States on Wednesday, March 20th, turned to the Canadian parliament in order to fight against the Northern Gateway and the Keystone XL pipeline, -”telling lawmakers that an alliance of native groups on both sides of the border are preparing to fight the pipelines in the courts and through unspecified direct action in the coming months.”
By Annie Lai
By Sydney Emo, Grade 10
TransCanada has always been fully committed to the Keystone XL Pipeline Project, which aims to transport oil from Alberta’s oil sands to several different locations in the United States. However, the U.S. government has recently announced its decision to reject the establishment of the Keystone XL pipeline. The U.S. Department of State has ordered that the pipe be re-routed so as to avoid contact with the Ogallala aquifer, which supplies water to millions of people living on the plains and which is one of the largest freshwater reserves in the world. If the route is changed and re-planned, the project will have to undergo environmental review yet again. This could potentially delay the realization of the pipeline project for another year or two.
The Keystone XL pipeline has been extremely controversial ever since its proposal. The impact that such a huge pipeline would have on the environment is unbelievable. All of the areas that it would pass through could be subject to oil spills, because no pipelines could guarantee zero leakage. Frequent spills contaminate water and wildlife. Another concern is that the pipeline would, at some point, go through an active seismic area. Should an earthquake occur again as it did back in 2002, the pipeline would break and the spilt oil would completely destroy the surrounding environment.
Despite all the protests and opposition, it seems unlikely that the Keystone XL pipeline project is fully off the table, especially not if the oil companies and the Canadian government are giving their full support to the project. Steven Harper says: “This outcome is one of the scenarios we anticipated. While we are disappointed, TransCanada remains fully committed to the construction of the Keystone XL.” TransCanada will re-apply for permit; right now, they’re hoping to have the pipeline up and running by 2014.
On the other hand, Obama claims that his administration is working on ways to strengthen America’s energy security. He says: “We will do so in a way that benefits American workers and businesses without risking the health and safety of the American people and the environment.” At the moment, it seems as though the United States is actually seeing the big picture and putting more thought into the effects that this massive project could have on the world.
Unfortunately, this does not mean that the U.S. is saying “No” to this project completely; they are simply stalling. With Canada doing everything it can to get a “Yes” from the United States, there is a possibility that it will be revived. According to the John Boehner, the current Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Republicans are eyeing a massive highway bill as a way to resurrect the Keystone XL pipeline—by attaching it to the bill as an additional condition. Meanwhile, Republicans (as well as some Democrats) in the Senate are planning to introduce a Keystone bill.
Nonetheless, the new delay resulted from the Obama administration’s denial of Keystone permit proves that there is always a chance for things to change in a positive direction.
Visser, J. (2012, January 18). U.S. rejects Keystone XL, TransCanada not giving up. CTV News. Retrieved from http://www.ctvbc.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20120118/obama-administration-keystone-xl-pipeline-decision-120118/20120118?hub=BritishColumbiaHome
Lum, Zi-Ann. (2011, November 10). U.S. to TransCanada: Find a new route for Keystone XL. Vancouver Observer. Retrieved from http://www.vancouverobserver.com/world/2011/11/10/us-transcanada-find-new-route-keystone-xl
Savage, L, Ch. (2012, January 18). TransCanada: will try again, hope for pipeline in 2014. Maclean’s. http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/01/18/transcanada-will-try-again-hope-for-pipeline-in-2014/
Dixon, K. (2010, January 29). Keystone to be linked to U.S. highway bill: Boehner. Reuters. Retrieved from http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/29/us-usa-congress-keystone-idUSTRE80S0IX20120129