The Keystone Pipeline- What You Need To Know

With the swish of a pen, Donald Trump has signed yet another controversial executive order involving the highly debated oil pipelines, Keystone XL and the Dakota Access Pipeline. It’s an issue that many people, from environmentalists to oil proponents, feel incredibly strong about- for various, opposing reasons. You’ve likely heard either friends or celebrities expressing their concern over the pipelines, but if the extent of your knowledge ends there, the Lala’s got you covered with everything you need to know.

Let’s Back Up.  

Over the last few months, you probably noticed the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe garnering a lot of attention, with hashtags like #StandWithStandingRock #NoDAPL becoming widely used to bring awareness to the proposed pipeline. If not, you can learn all about the Dakota Access Pipeline and the backlash it created here.

For many, the Keystone XL pipeline may be a little less recognizable.

Originally proposed in 2008 and commissioned in 2010, Keystone XL is a planned, 1,179-mile-long oil pipeline that would run from Canada to Nebraska. From Nebraska, it would intersect with the pre-existing Keystone pipeline, transporting hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil every day. Proponents of the pipeline argue that by increasing the amount of oil supplied by Canada, the dependency on Middle Eastern Oil would subsequently be decreased. Keystone advocates also claim the pipeline would create a significant amount of construction jobs and would keep everyday fuel prices low.

So…What’s the Problem?

The Environment. The EPA has consistently advised against the approval of the pipeline, as its creation could pose huge problems for local communities in regards to clean air and safe drinking water. After several years of back and forth, Barack Obama rejected the Keystone XL pipeline in 2015, noting that it undermined the United States’ role as a leader in global climate change- a huge win for the pipeline’s opponents.

Environmentalists fear that a spill could contaminate the Ogallala aquifer, which provides drinking water to over 2 million people. Others are concerned about greenhouse gas emissions because the energy required to develop the oil sands is higher in comparison to conventional oil.

Why Are We Talking About it?

This morning, President Trump brought the pipeline back into the spotlight by signing an executive order that allows the government to reconsider the Keystone XL. By ignoring the warnings of environmental experts and continuing to be pro-oil rather than exploring alternate forms of energy, this order has many people worried that Donald Trump will be just as detrimental to the environment as they expected he would be.

And while it may create jobs, it probably won’t be the 28,000 jobs Trump promised. A huge portion of the jobs created would only be temporary, with the US State Department stating in 2014 that only about 50 people would be needed to operate the pipeline after completion. Yep-only 50.

What Happens Next?

Trump has invited TransCanada, the company behind the Keystone XL to resubmit their proposal for the pipeline, and they will move forward after a “renegotiation of terms.”

By moving forward with the expansion of Keystone Pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipeline, the Trump administration is ignoring the needs of our country, and the needs of Native Americans whose sacred lands and access to clean water are being threatened. Bill McKibben of the environmentalist group 350.org stated, “Before people power stopped them. People will mobilize again.”

Those people he’s referring to? They’re you and me. With the current evolution occurring in our government, it’s important more now than ever that we pay attention, stay informed, and stand up for the things we believe in- whatever those things may be.

Michaela McNamara

Editorial Contributor, Virginia Tech Major: Political Science Major, Sociology Minor Her heart belongs to: Music Festivals, her friends and family, and her dog Raleigh Her Guilty Pleasures: Justin Bieber, tattoos, and Justin Bieber's tattoos

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