The organizing around stopping the Keystone XL Pipeline has been nothing short of incredible. Across the country, people have come together to stop this devastating project. We’ve encircled the White House. We’ve signed pledges civil disobedience. We’ve shouted and protested and written countless letters. And we’re getting just the kind of attention on this pipeline that we need.
There’s just one thing to keep in mind: the Keystone XL Pipeline isn’t the only pipeline we should be watching. Not by a long shot. In this piece from Tara Lohan, we’re introduced to five other pipelines that have the potential to devastate local communities and accelerate global climate change. We’re sharing this piece not so that we can become new members of the wet blanket brigade, but so that we can keep the fire and energy that have driven the organizing around the Keystone pipeline going into other arenas.
By Tara Lohan
By now most people have heard of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline and the fact that, after five years of deliberation and protest, its fate still hangs in the balance (the southern portion is already built, but the northern portion that crosses the Canadian-US border awaits a permitting decision). The issue has galvanized the environmental movement, inspired dozens of high-profile demonstrations and captured media attention. But while the impacts from Keystone XL are significant, it’s not the only tar sands pipeline project in town.
Usually pipelines don’t draw much attention unless something goes wrong — like when a suburban Mayflower, Ark., neighborhood was flooded with heavy crude from the Alberta tar sands last May courtesy of a busted Exxon pipeline. But increasingly, communities aren’t waiting until catastrophe strikes to voice their opposition to new or expanded pipeline projects — partly because of environmental and public health risks from spills and partly out of concern for increasing the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.
When Keystone XL was brought into the spotlight, people began to understand that not all pipelines are created equal — a pipeline carrying “dilbit,” or diluted bitumen from tar sands — poses different (and often greater) risks than a conventional oil pipeline. Hazardous chemicals and other hydrocarbons need to be added, along with high pressure and heat, to move viscous dilbit through a pipe. And when spills occur, the oil doesn’t sheen at the surface; it sinks — making cleanup difficult (or impossible). Just ask communities along the Kalamazoo River in Michigan where a 2010 dilbit spill of close to a million gallons is still causing headaches even after $1 billion in cleanup operations.
And then there are also the environmental implications that come from the mining of tar sands, which have devastated the boreal forests of Alberta, creating massive lakes of toxic chemicals, clear cuts, and polluted water and air.
Read the rest of the article at BillMoyers.com.