Keystone XL Threatens Air Quality for Surrounding Communities

We have all read about Keystone XL pipeline’s adverse effects can have an impact on the environment as a whole, but I want to take a closer look at how it affects the air quality in the surrounding areas. According to National Nurses United, more than 40 percent of Americans live in areas affected by air pollution with levels of particle pollution that can cause higher incidents of asthma, heart attacks, and premature death. This statistic could worsen for people living in areas near the Keystone XL. The Keystone XL will multiply carbon emissions are a major factor in intensifying climate change; that higher air temperatures can increase bacteria-related food poisoning, such as salmonella. The ground level ozone contaminants can damage lung tissue, reduce lung function, and increase respiratory ailments.

Based on a report done by Jeffrey Simpson from The Globe and Mail, bitumen oil produces 17 percent more greenhouse gas emissions per barrel than crude oil refined in the U.S. He went on to say that, bitumen oil shipped via Keystone would produce somewhere between 1.3 and 27.4 million metric tons more carbon a year than heavy oil now being used in the Gulf refineries – the equivalent of emissions from 270,833 to 5,708,333 passenger vehicles, or from 0.4 to 7.8 coal-fired power plants. Based on an operation run by the Koch brothers, they have created petcoke, which has proven to be significantly harmful to the environment. Forest ethics estimates that if production triples as the industry wants, it would mean a 230 percent increase in nitrogen oxides pollution, a 160 percent increase in sulphur dioxide emissions, and a 190 percent increase in particulate matter – each of these can damage both human and environmental health.

The harmful effects of the Keystone XL if the project continues to 2030.

The harmful effects of the Keystone XL if the project continues to 2030.

So what is petcoke? Petcoke is a refining byproduct of tar sands oil, and when burned is substantially dirtier than coal and contributes drastically to greenhouse gas pollution. Numerous parties invested in this pipeline fail to mention these facts because it would effect the profit they would make off of the Keystone XL. The price of increasing climate change and health risks is a far higher risks for the residents who will be affected by this pipeline.

Toxic black dust covers a working class community in south Chicago when strong winds pick up Koch Industries owned petcoke piled high along the Calumet River.

Toxic black dust covers a working class community in south Chicago when strong winds pick up Koch Industries owned petcoke piled high along the Calumet River.

Everyone deserves to have access to clean air, so we shouldn’t let the Keystone XL take that away from them.

keystone pipeLIES: KXL will lower gas prices

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One of the reasons supporters of the keystone pipeline back the project is because they believe that it will bring lower gas prices. Americans seem to care more about saving a buck than they do about their health and the environment. But the truth is gas is a global commodity and its price is set by global markets. It rises and falls based on all sorts of factors, including current demand, demand forecasts, global economic conditions, and international events that affect distribution channels. Local supply fluctuations rarely have any but the tiniest impact on gas prices. New pipelines carrying tar-sands oil might extend the lifespan of climate-wrecking fossil fuels by a few years, but they won’t bring down the price at the gas pump.

In fact, in the Midwest, Keystone XL might actually increase the price per gallon. according to researchers at the Cornell University Global Labor Institute, TransCanada, the proposed manufacturers of the pipeline, admitted that “KXL will increase the price of heavy crude oil in the Midwest by almost $2 to $4 billion annually.” The Cornell study explains that this will happen as a result of “diverting major volumes of Tar Sands oil now supplying the Midwest refineries, so it can be sold at higher prices to the Gulf Coast and export markets.”

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Fox expects us to to believe that building KXL could result in gas prices dropping “20 to 30 cents a gallon”; indeed, Asman responds to his claim by saying that the Gulf executive is “on the retail side of the gas business, so you know” how gas prices come about.

But the Cornell University study estimates nearly the exact opposite of the claim, estimating that building the KXL pipeline could increase domestic gas and diesel fuel prices in some states by between “30 to 40 cents more per gallon”

Gasoline is a significant cost for most Americans, and especially for those with lower incomes and residing in rural areas. Also, refined oil products like gasoline and diesel are very widely used throughout the economy especially in agriculture and commercial transportation. So higher fuel prices due to KXL would ripple through the economy and impact a very broad range of people and businesses.

The Pipeline Won’t Meet American Demand

One of the main reasons that many proponents call for Keystone XL pipeline because it will supply a steady supply of oil to the United States. On TransCanada’s website it states that the United States would be able to reduce the amount of oil that is imported from Venezuela and the Middle East. TransCanada argues that the United States will continue to import 3.5 to 7.5 million barrels per day until the year 2035. However, these claims by TransCanada are currently irrelevant, as the United States are currently experiencing a boom in domestic oil production.

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Due to Shale and other unconventional oil production, the United States is on the verge of becoming one of the largest oil producers in the world. Thus the energy security argument that TransCanada has framed is in fact unneeded in our country. By having these innovative forms of oil production the United States will be able to have lighter oil than the heavy crude oil that would be pumped from the Keystone XL pipeline. Ultimately, by moving forward with the cleaner oil, the United States would benefit by moving our own domestic production to the market.

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Another argument that needs to be exposed is that Canada at the moment does not have enough tar sands oil to fill current pipelines. According to the NRDC, there is still two million of empty space in a pipeline from Canada to the United States. It is estimated that the Keystone pipeline is only able to export half of what TransCanada states they will be able to export. In fact, the pipeline will not be able to truly export the amount that TransCanada claim they will be able to export until 2025. Therefore Keystone XL pipeline will not be able to meet the current demands of the American pubic. Thus our country must continue to build upon innovative forms oil than build an unneeded pipeline that will cause more harm than good.